Over the past few years, local electronic group Goodluck has cemented themselves as one of the greatest dance acts in Africa. They released their third studio album ‘The Nature Within’ late last year which has spawned hits such as ‘Thinking About You’ and ‘Find Me In The Forest’. The album sees the group take on a more commercial sound as they expand their horizons internationally. In fact, the new album just won a South African Music Award for Best Pop Album. Now, the group’s Ben Peters opens up about their new album, performing live and their hit single ‘The Open Sea’.
Congrats on your new album. Why name it ‘The Nature Within’?
Thanks so much! We wanted it to be something that could echo the sentiments we were feeling when we wrote and recorded the music. Nature has always been a strong theme in our music since the beginning (remember when we recorded an entire album outdoors in the Namibian desert?!), but this album was a bit more introspective. I guess you could say we were taking more inspiration from human nature, so we thought ‘The Nature Within’ would be the perfect name for this album.
How different is this record compared to your previous two?
If you know GoodLuck you will know that we have always been super diverse. We have always chosen to venture into many different styles of electronic music and we have never allowed ourselves to be boxed in by genre. This album still reflects that, but it is more consistent – it follows more of a thread (with a sneaky exception here and there). It is also the first album that Jules is singing entirely on her own. In the past we have featured different singers our albums – sometimes we feel a song needs a male voice or female singer whose character better suits the lyrics, but on this record this is very much Jules’ heart translated in song so it makes a nice change to have her sing all the songs she has written.
The album took you a year to complete. Why decide to take your time this time around?
I don’t think people realise how much blood, sweat and tears goes into the making of the album. With the music world moving in the direction that is has been for some time we were discussing with our label the option of sticking to a more singles based music release plan, but then we decided to throw caution to the wind and rather push for an album in 2016. The only problem was that we had a very busy touring schedule planned for the year. So we took the recording process with us on the road – this album ended up being written and recorded in 16 different countries across the world. It was an amazing process and we have never learnt so much about music and about ourselves as we did on this album!
There are many collaborations on the album. What was it like working with so many other producers?
Its always wonderful to work with other musicians and producers – there are no rules in making music and its awesome to see how other people are bending and breaking convention to create. That makes for an inspiring catalyst for song writing and production, but it also means you have to have a very clear idea of what you want to aim for with the songs as you can sometimes end up with a really cool idea that isn’t going to work on the album. Its a juggle to try and take the best ideas and hone them into something that our fans are going to love and still push the boundaries of what GoodLuck is known for.
You also recorded your first cover track. Why did you choose to cover ‘I’ve Been Thinking About You’?
Jules had the idea whilst working on a song for Tresor and she came to me and said “hey what do you think about re-working Thinking about You?” – now if you know the original you can understand why my immediate response wasn’t great! I really didnt like the vocal performance of the London Beat version and it took some convincing to get Jules to understand that I was only interested in doing this if we changed the approach to how the lyrics were sung. She came to me with this super gentle down tempo approach which revealed how beautiful the lyrics actually were and I knew we had to do it – its such a beautiful song and it was hidden by a really strange production (that I guess was appropriate to the 90’s?!) but I needed to put my own spin on it and it turned out better than I could have imagined.
Your new single ‘The Open Sea’ is a smash. What inspired that song?
It was written about that feeling that you get when you become lost in somebody for a moment of time. Those exceptionally fleeting holiday romances that would never last but they totally consume you in every way. That desire that you can feel to know somebody inside out, instantly. We also wanted to compare that sort of love to being lost at sea… you have no idea of which direction you are travelling but you don’t really care, its terrifying but incredible at the same time – you just want to be with that person for however long you’ve got.
You guys give an electric live performance. What do you think makes for a great act to watch on stage?
We have always felt that live performance is 10% about the band and 90% about the audience. I think that nowadays people want to be totally immersed in the experience of live music – they want to feel as though they are a part of it in every sensory way. We make sure to keep this in mind when creating and rehearsing our live shows because we believe that the energy should be collective. There is nothing like the feeling of thousands of people singing your songs back to you – its an incredible honour and it inspires our respect for our audience, it pushes us to go that much further with our efforts to perform and produce the best shows we can, from lighting and video to how we rearrange the songs and order our setlist, each show has to be individually tailored for the fans. The audience has done their part, they’ve arrived for the show and payed for their ticket – its our responsibility to help them hear and appreciate the songs like never before.
You’ve been playing internationally for a while now. Why do you think your music identifies with so many around the world?
Obviously electronic music is in vogue right now but it wasn’t when we started out, we were just following a passion for producing music that made us feel a certain way and brought people together and the only way we knew how to do that was with our hybrid organic electronic approach. We couple real instruments and electronic instruments together and there aren’t that many people in the world who are doing that, and then is just happens that Jules writes beautiful songs over that – and I think its that which appeals to people from all walks of life and all ages. I think its because we are not trying to be like anyone else and our songs are honest reflections of our experiences and life, as Jules always says “from our hearts to your ears”.
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