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Treasure Island Music Festival: St. Lucia's 'Ridiculous' Onstage Outfits

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Before taking the stage in San Francisco this weekend, band frontman Jean-Philip Grobler gushed about his Hawaiian shirt fetish

If you thought Hawaiian-print menswear was a reserved exclusively for the '90s, think again. Since Brooklyn-based electro synth-pop group St. Lucia released their debut LP When The Night in 2013, frontman Jean-Philip Grobler’s tropical button downs have become synonymous with the group’s '80s-inspired sound. “What I wear is a little bit ridiculous,” he admits. “But there is an element of fantasy and escape in the music, and something a little bit ridiculous about it, so I like to have that in my clothes.

Before his performance at San Francisco's Treasure Island Music Festival on Saturday, we caught up with the South African-born musician to chat about his Hawaiian shirts and being married to one of his bandmates. 

You wear a ton of bright colors and textures on stage. Where does that come from? Is there at all a South African influence?

I grew up in a house where my mom really loved ethnic fabrics and we had loads of Persian rugs — the decoration was always really eclectic — it really influenced me. When we started as a band, we dressed very normally but there just came a point where I started realizing that audiences respond to the bands that do the things that they might not. I gradually started to think that I should embody the music in the way I dress, it was a really natural thing. 

And the Hawaiian shirts — when did that start?

We were in England playing The Great Escape Festival — and we played a little acoustic set at a thrift store. The store owners gave us some money and said, “You guys can pick anything out from the shop” — and that’s where I found my first Hawaiian shirt.  At first everyone was like, “Dude, you look like John Candy, this is terrible.” But I was like, “Well f--k you guys,” and just kept finding different shirts and it became this thing. 

 
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I'm obviously insane. Photo courtesy of @alrockradionow when we played @timefest

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You and Patricia (Patti) Beranek are married. What’s it like for you to be on tour together?

It started out a little bit difficult, just getting used to being around each other all the time. But now we just have a great time, we do stuff together during the day — hiking or something, depending on the area. There is almost no separation between work and play but there doesn’t necessarily need to be. I don’t know, it just works for us somehow. 

Does she have any say about what you wear?

She does. We kind of talk about it. But this tour we’ve been wearing a lot more monochrome stuff. Because we have so many lights going on, if you wear too many colors it kind of messes with the lights. Whereas if you wear black and white it’s a blank canvas, in a way, for everything that is going on. 

What can we look forward to from you in the next year?

We’re finishing this tour; we have a bunch of big shows on the West Coast; we’re playing two Terminal 5 shows in New York and then we’re getting right into the studio to work on the next record. It’s been an awesome year for us!

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