Harding and Peters are by no means newcomers to the South African music scene, nor is this their first project together as they were both members of the band Jac Sharp. Peters is also one of the many musos who have, at one time or another, called themselves members of the legendary Plush. It’s this long-standing involvement in the industry that goes some way to explain how they’ve managed to rope in so many revered musicians for their self-titled debut.
When I call from a soggy Johannesburg, Harding tells me it’s a beautiful day in Cape Town and that she and Ben are about to “…go for a surf just now”. At least the water’s cold, right? She puts me on speakerphone and I begin by asking the duo how it is that they’ve seemingly appeared on the scene fully formed, album in hand and touring schedule fit to burst.
Peters laughs, “GoodLuck has actually existed since the summer of 2009. It was originally an offshoot of Jac Sharp. We seem polished and slick because we took a strategic decision to fly under the radar. We believe in honing a product until it’s ready. We didn’t do any press or release any tracks so that when we did, we could really be proud of the results. We don’t want to do anything that’s half-baked. Really, we’ve just been very, very sneaky.” [more laughs on the other side of the speakerphone.]
Having both been in successful acts before GoodLuck I ask the duo for a concise rundown of how they’ve ended up where they are today. Peters (not so concisely) explains, “Jules and I found we shared a love of electronic music, which I sort of introduced to Jac Sharp towards the end of its lifecycle. Jules is actually more comfortable with electronic sensibilities than rock ones. We were both in Jac Sharp before this, and some members of Jac Sharp were, slash are, also in Plush. So anyway I got my start as the drummer for Plush in 2005, and the band was already a professional entity by that stage.”
He continues, “I used to get very frustrated with the sounds I wanted to get out of the songwriting process. Now that I’m a producer my musical ear can grab what it wants. As a drummer in the previous bands I wasn’t integral to the songwriting – I didn’t get caught up with a good vocal hook or guitar riff – I think I honed my producer ear that way and was most critical of the songs. These days we write a lot of stuff together, but I try to keep that distance I felt before because I’m also producing and mixing. Thankfully, Jules is very understanding when I’m critical,” he laughs.
Subsequent to all this the duo decided to put all their focus on the GoodLuck project; “It just became impossible to maintain all three acts and we realised that this was where our passion really lay. I had never mixed or produced before, let alone run a studio. At the time it was overwhelming, but the creativity of it drove us through it. Also, it’s so much fun! We tear each other’s hair out in the studio, but we’re also just a really good team.”
The credits of their debut are littered with the names of well-known musicians, so I ask Peters how they’d gotten such an impressive supporting cast involved in a band with no track record. “I’ve known Lee [Thompson] and Sean [Ou Tim] since the Plush days – ironically we’ve all played together in Plush at some point. It’s really just about my knowledge of the Cape Town scene. I have an idea for a song and I then get musicians in to fill in the colours, if you will.”
Harding adds, “One of the great things about being in Cape Town is that we have these insanely talented people all around us who are keen to get involved in all sorts of projects. They come in, we bounce ideas around, and we lay something down. ‘Lots of talent and no money’ is what we all have in common, along with a love of music.”
Although strictly a duo, GoodLuck often includes a third member when performing live… “Raiven [Hansmann] is a great asset to our live show. We realised our live format was missing something and we wanted to include Jac Sharp members in the new format,” Peters explains. “His jazz background and performance experience is exactly what we were looking for. He’s able to improvise and he’s such a consummate performer.”
There are two versions of GoodLuck’s debut, one with an accompanying DVD and another with a disc of remixes. I’m curious as to how they managed to get the likes of Wez Clarke, Miami Inc, Lissat & Voltaxx and The 808s on board. “The answer starts with a K and ends with a son… Karl Anderson. He’s a bloody legend. We think we work pretty hard, but Karl makes us work even harder. He just makes stuff happen. We think he might actually be a woman because no man multitasks that well,” chuckles Harding.
Peters continues, “He’s got this incredible reach with people around the world. We are so lucky to have his experience…” “We seem to have a lot of good luck,” Ben adds with no sense of irony in his voice. “So Anderson was instrumental in getting Lisa Kekuala [the voice behind the Basement Jaxx smash hit from which the band takes their name] to agree to perform the vocals on your track Harlem,” I ask thinking I have cleverly joined the dots for them.
“Well… oddly, no,” says Harding. “I was Googling who sang Good Luck. I looked on Facebook for her fan page, then found her actual page, dropped her a message, she asked for the track, gave it a listen, and was game to be on it. She recorded the vocals in California and sent them to us. I love her voice. That diva, crazy, raw, deep south vibe she’s got. We want to write a song for her voice specifically now.”
Finally, before I let them hit the surf, I asked the duo how important sponsorship is in an age where even the best records are lucky to move units in the four-figure region. “It’s crucial,” Harding affirms. “Musicians are relying more and more on brands for support because artists don’t make money off album sales anymore. We wanted to pick brands that are aligned with what we represent though. I’d say don’t pull the ring out of it if you’re looking for sponsorship; you have to be true to your brand too for it to fit.”
Check out our review of Goodluck’s album in album reviews.
Written By : Craig Wilson