Stepping boldly onto the South African music circuit in 2011, GoodLuck has gone on to establish themselves as favourites in the live electronic scene both locally and internationally playing to sold-out concerts around the world.
Since the release of their first single Taking it Easy, something about the unique blend of electronic production, live vocals and live instrumentation has set the trio apart and sent their career on a stellar upward trajectory, one Top 10 radio hit after the next. They have shared the stage with many famed music makers including Basement Jaxx, Groove Armada and The Pet Shop Boys and, a massive coup, were selected to open for Pharrell Williams as part of his 2015 world tour.
The trio, hailing from Cape Town, comprise of founding members Juliet Harding (vocals, songwriting) and Ben Peters (producer, beats, electronic percussion), with their newest member Tim Welsh (saxophone, keyboard) joining a couple of weeks before lockdown hit.
In a baptism by fire, with only a week to learn the repertoire, Welsh’s first performance was at one of Cape Town’s biggest music events — Huawei KDay — to an audience of 10 000 people. Incidentally, it was also his last performance because two weeks later, COVID-19 toggled the off-switch on the entertainment industry and cancelled all plans.
Almost exactly a year later, I’m sitting across from the band at their beautiful Get Lucky Studios in Muizenberg for a long overdue catch-up on how lockdown’s been treating them. Peters takes me on a tour of the studio – where they spent most of their lockdown – and from polished floor, high-rise ceiling to wooden staircase and lumo lights, it’s a thing of beauty.
Peters beams with pride as he walks me through the architectural work of art that he played a pivotal role in designing and by the time we make it back upstairs and into the studio, I’m ready for them to spill the beans on the year that wasn’t — except in their case, it really was.
I ask Peters to take me back to just before lockdown. “We’d done one gig together, then Jules and I go away to the Seychelles for two weeks on holiday and came back the day before lockdown…” he recalls. Welsh, a South African College of Music jazz graduate, had just started a digital marketing course when he was offered a bandmate position, “I dropped out of where I was studying and we had this full-year planned — we were gonna go on all of these overseas tours, so it was a dream come true, my big break. We played one show, and then everything shut down,” he recalls with disbelief.
All five of their international tours cancelled, Goodluck saw this as an opportunity to take a step back from their crazy schedules, subsequently recalibrating and reinventing themselves within three days of lockdown with the launch of their livestream show The Luckdown — the first of a number of new projects.
“For Jules and I, the flow hasn’t been there for a while, [so] the beautiful thing is that things happened effortlessly — we segued into hosting live streaming concerts but none of us knew anything about cameras and streaming equipment,” explains Peters of the transition. Harding finishes this train of thought, “We all just became experts in being agile.”
Being the newbie in the band, I ask Welsh about the pressures of stepping into a 10-year legacy. “A positive of [joining just before lockdown] was that I got to know Jules and Ben from a different angle than if we’d just been on tour,” Welsh explains thoughtfully, “when shows stopped it was like all these things were starting from scratch, and we’re developing this new thing and all of our ideas are being listened to,” he reasons.
Harding reveals a darker time in their career, directly after former bandmate Matthew O’ Connell left, “I was on the edge of depression, I was not having fun. And even though we were so busy and successful, I was struggling lots, and so was Ben, so now that we’re out of it, it’s feeling much more fun,” she confesses, adding, “I think the point is that the team has never been stronger [than with Welsh] and as a result, a lot of awesome stuff is manifesting.”
Their biggest — and potentially most exciting — project born out of lockdown, is their upcoming release Up Close, which sees South Africa’s favourite electro-pop act drop an unplugged acoustic album, something that nobody, least of all them, could ever have seen coming. They handpicked some of the hottest session musicians on the Cape Town music scene to reimagine some of GoodLuck’s biggest hits in a more relaxed, acoustic form and the result is something completely unexpected, but equally genius. What started out as a cute collaborative idea has evolved into a musical work that pushes them out of their comfort zone and into the next chapter of their colourful legacy.
Watch the story behind the record here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoH7rFbV8n0_QGPplwaHcyg