SA electro-swing act Goodluck

SA electro-swing act Goodluck hits UK on sizzling summer tour

Last year Capetonian band Goodluck performed a sold-out gig at Half Moon Putney as part of their UK tour – this August they’re back with another show at the iconic music venue and performances at several Holi One festivals. We chatted to them about their chart-topping success, international fame and recording their new album in the Namib desert

SA electro-swing act Goodluck

goodluckLast July, while was visiting ‘the best live music venue in South West London’ to purchase advance tickets, the barmaid effervesced so much about her favourite South African band that I was persuaded to buy the last ticket. Her enthusiasm was not misplaced. It was a great gig.

Goodluck, comprised of producer Ben Peters, singer/songwriter Juliet Harding and saxophonist Raiven Hansmann has grown from a small weekly residency at Camps Bay club Karma to opening for Paul Oakenfold and Basement Jaxx and performing at clubs and festivals around the world.

Five tracks from their self-titled debut album in April 2011 went to number one on the radio charts, making GoodLuck number one in chart-topping singles off a debut album in South African history, surpassing super-bands like the Parlotones, Prime Circle and the electronic super-group Goldfish.

This time around, I was given the opportunity to interview  lead singer Jules ahead of their British and European tour.

I saw you last year at a packed Half Moon in Putney. Did you enjoy performing at such a historic venue?

Yes, it’s a very famous venue especially among expats and to sell out our show was an added bonus! We are hoping it will be the same this year, only not so warm. It was 32 degrees in London on the day we performed last year!

Did it feel strange to be so close to, even intimate with, the audience?

No, we really enjoy those kinds of gigs! We are the kind of band who can perform to 10 or 100,000 people. We will enjoy each performance as much for different reasons. Intimate performances are really raw and you have nowhere to hide so you are completely exposed. We like the challenge of that. It’s also cool to feel like the audience is very much a part of what you are doing on stage. We are all about that!

Back home in South Africa you regularly play in front of huge crowds at festivals. Do you still play similar small venues in Cape Town?

Of course! You definitely need a balance of shows to keep it interesting. If we only played the big festivals and concerts we would feel no real connection with our fans. We love the smaller gigs where we can sit with them after the show and have a drink and laugh. Those moments make for the best memories!

You’re currently in The Netherlands. How are you enjoying your summer in Europe so far?

It has been amazing! We are performing some of the festivals on our bucket list and we are in some cases performing main stage slots, so it’s really incredible that we have managed to get this far in four years. We are also loving the sunshine, the bicycles (in The Netherlands) and the bitterballen (a Dutch snack).

When you come to the British Isles you have a busy schedule of festival dates.Will you have time to write and record between shows?

We are planning some awesome collabs and some studio time as well — we are always trying to write new music. So for us it’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when. We will be working with a very cool deep house duo called Bordertown while in the UK (watch this space). We’ll also be working on some new material of our own. We love the scene in Europe and we always come back from summer packed full of ideas and new sounds. There is so much to see and do and listen to here!

Then you go back to the Haarlem Jazz Festival. First time there? 

Second time, actually. We are very honoured that they invited us back! We’re looking forward to the entire line-up, but particularly Eva Simons — she is awesome!

Goodluck “Figure of 8” Music Video from GKL on Vimeo.

You are known for your excellent videos. Do you have much input with the storylines and art direction?

Thank you! We usually come up with the storyline ourselves and bash it out with the director — naturally there is usually a difference in opinion on some of the creative elements. At the end of the day we always seem to get a cool product. We are lucky to work with some talented people!

 Any interesting current or future collaborations to report?

Yes! We have just released a collab video with Mathew Gold (very inspiring singer from Cape Town) called ‘Last Summer’. The video will be out in about a week so watch this space. It’s more dancey than we are used to and has a summertime feeling.


We are very influenced by electronic music boundary pushers – especially those who combine live instruments with electronic beats from Faithless to Bonobo and everything in between! In South Africa we listen toour friends in the scene like Micasa, Goldfish and Crazy White Boy (to name a few).

What are you listening to while on tour?

Bonobo, Clean Bandit, Kygo and a new DJ from The Netherlands called De Hofnar.

You recorded your new album, Creatures of the Night, in Namibia. Tell us about that.

Our ‘studio’ was outdoors under the stars. We recorded this second album in an extraordinary way – we took over 250kg of recording equipment into the middle of the Namib desert and made the world’s first electronic album out there. It was one of the most incredible adventures of our lives and the recordings turned out to be beautiful – there is a magic that only recording in an amazing environment can inspire! We also included some sound from the desert in the music. On our latest single we even have a zebra! It was a fantastic experience and we would do it again in a heartbeat, although we’d like to choose a different location each time to keep it interesting.

When will you release your next album?

This new album is only five months old so we will give it a little time before jumping into the next one. We are always working on new material and new songs to release as we feel they are ready.

goodluck catgoodluck cat 2






Whose idea was the Maneki-neko device?

The Lucky Cat! We love that little guy. It was my idea and it literally came to me in a dream. The cat symbolises good fortune in the East so we thought it would be the perfect symbol or mascot for our band. He also changes depending on the sound we are working on at the time. Our first album he was porcelain and breakable as it was our first album and a little fragile and unsure and then the second album he is made of  wood, more solid and organic like the music we made on the second album.

Do you collect them?

Yes, but only the ones we make – each Maneki-neko is hand made and created from our imaginations. So far we have only two. They sit proudly on top of the piano in our studio. When we aren’t there they have jam sessions and make amazing music together.

Is there any Japanese sub-text to your music?

Not really but I will say we are fascinated by eastern philosophy and health practices – Japan is a country we would LOVE to perform in and visit – definitely on the bucket list!

Jules, watching you on stage you almost seem to be joining the audience. Do you guys go clubbing when not due to perform?

I love to go out and have fun but I am not so big on clubbing. I actually prefer more intimate times with people like dinner chats and loads of tea! The reason I like to spend time in the audience is that I feel comfortable there and I love to get other people involved in the music. When I feel them feeling the music it makes the whole experience more real and so much more magical!

UK tour dates:

2 August Holi One Festival at Wembley Park, London 7pm until 8pm

7 August Goodluck at The Half Moon, Putney Doors 7pm

9 August Holi One Festival at Harewood House, Leeds 4pm until 5pm

August Holi One Festival at Donington Park, Nottingham 7pm until 8pm

16 August Holi One Festival at Royal Hospital, Dublin 5pm until 6pm

23 August Holi One Festival at Victoria Park Glasgow 7pm until 8pm

Ticket details on

By Tim Hillyer