There is no denying the fact that Goodluck are one of South Africa’s most successful bands, both locally and internationally, making waves on the electronic scene since 2011.
The trio is made up of founding members Ben Peters (producer, beats, electronic percussions) and Juliet Harding (vocals, production, songwriting), and more recently Matthew O’Connell (saxophone and live synths), and the two original members were super keen to talk about the what they have planned in Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, alongside Goldfish, for New Years Eve.
I ask them about the sense of accomplishment they must feel when they check their streaming stats and see themselves on over 25 Top 50 playlists internationally. Jules starts, “It’s pretty wild. It’s mind-blowing to think that a song that you can create in your studio can have such a profound sense of reach in such a short space of time and -”
“People around the world are listening to this little band from Cape Town,” Ben interrupts. “I think ultimately what it comes down to is this very humbling emotion. As a South African you tend to think that your music isn’t good enough to make it onto international playlists but actually that’s not how people consume music. They don’t care where it comes from or who did it, they just care whether they like what it sounds like.”
Ben and Jules agree that the secret to their success was due to them focusing on creating beautiful sounds that they feel genuinely resonates with them and, in turn, their audiences. Ben adds, “Worry less about your Instagram following and all the other nonsense that goes into the current world, and your music will connect with people.”
I argue that focusing on the song isn’t always so easy, especially for new bands who have to focus on earning themselves exposure and wonder whether they’re at the point in the careers where all they have to focus on is creating the music.
Both Ben and Jules start to answer and it’s clear they are on the same page. “Don’t get me wrong, we still put a lot of effort into our social media and other aspects but I think the point that I’m making is not that social media is irrelevant. But people won’t listen to your music just because you posted a sexy pic in your bikini… which I look fantastic in, by the way,” chuckles Ben. I say pictures or it didn’t happen, Ben.
With performance being a fractional part of the music, and business playing a massive role, I ask about the hardest business lesson they’ve had to learn in the South African industry, one that they’ve had to learn the hard way.
Jules takes this one, “I think it’s creative control. You know, we’ve always been very trusting and open people, and while I fully advocate for trusting people and not scrutinising things all the time, at the same time sometimes when you let too much of the control and decisions go to other people and you get comfortable and take your foot off the gas, as to what the music and the events mean to you, you can lose sight of your way.”
“Whether it’s a song or it’s an event or a concert or a music video, your involvement has to be in a 360 degree capacity,” Ben adds. “It doesn’t mean you should be doing all the work. It’s actually very vital that you don’t do all the work. But if you aren’t conscious of all the goings on, there will be people who start trying to cut corners and not doing things the way you’ve trusted it to be done.”
“Like Ben said, you don’t have to be doing all the work but you do have to have an understanding of each role so you can make sure that everyone is in line with your vision,” Jules explains.
From recording an album in the middle of the Namibian desert, to playing international stages, music has taken them all across the world. I ask about the most incredible show they’ve ever played. There’s a lot of excitement in Jules’ voice as she says, “We performed at a festival in India called Sunburn, which is probably the biggest dance festival in Asia and it caters for 300 000 people over a weekend and it’s just crazy.”
“Architecturally, it’s something that’d make Tomorrowland look stupid!” Ben exclaims and Jules agrees adding, “It was like Disney World of stage designs. It was totally overwhelming being on that stage. The line-up was also insane. The night we performed, they had Martin Garrix and Kygo and all these massive international artists.”
We talk about the South African music scene and the genres being represented on the world stage, namely kwaito, gqom, house and EDM. Having made the move from acoustic to EDM, I wonder if they knew that electronic music was going to blow up like this. As decidedly as ever, Ben says, “Yes!” He pauses before adding, “Everything is cyclical, and I felt that hip hop and rock and R&B had had their moments. I also think that the world is in a difficult place and dance music allows people to forget their emotional baggage more easily than other genres. Electronic music gives this hypnotic escapism that a lot more people started wanting.”
It’s the time of the year to start making New Year’s Eve plans and Goodluck have got their end-of-year formula down-pat. Sharing a line-up with Goldfish, they’ll be playing two shows in two cities, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay and I have to know the logistics. “Goldfish starts playing at 9pm in Knysna, Goodluck starts playing at 9pm in Plettenberg Bay, and we both finish our shows at the same time. And then we have to drive to the airport, hop on a helicopter and hop on stage just in time for the show and countdown.”
Knysna, Plett, you basically have your night cut out for you.