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The Balancing Act of St. Lucia

From babies to Greek mythology, see what the Brooklyn-based band was inspired by for their third album, Hyperion

The indie pop group St. Lucia is a band in every sense of the word, with five musicians all contributing to the sounds that are produced. But, in the spotlight–literally and figuratively–stands Jean-Philip Grobler, with his wife Patti Beranek by his side. The duo have been in each other’s lives for over a decade and actually made an effort at the start of Grobler’s career to keep their professional lives separate. “At one point [Grobler] just asked me if I wanted to join him and I was like, be careful because if I join the band, we are going to get signed. And we did. I did it,” Beranek playfully explains how St. Lucia became what it is today. Beranek adds that upon joining her now-husband, she knew she needed to accept that St. Lucia was Grobler’s project. “It’s easy to jump onto someone’s project when they have such drive and vision. He knows exactly what he wants to do so I had to decide to be his sous chef, and be really good at it,” she says.

St. Lucia is gearing up to release their third studio album called Hyperion. The album comes after a truly life-changing two years for Grobler and Beranek. “We made two babies. We made a human baby and a music baby,” Beranek says. Grobler chimes in quietly saying that the couple experienced a miscarriage before their son’s birth. “Women don’t talk about those things but I think it happens a lot,” Beranek adds. “I think for Jean, it had quite an impact on him. There is a song off the album that came directly from [the miscarriage].” Ahead of becoming a father, Grobler admits that with a hectic lifestyle and big ambitions, he was never totally positive that role was suited for him. Upon seeing his wife be pregnant, he says, “It brought the idea home that I was actually going to be a dad. It was a real thing and I know this sounds corny but it is such a miracle that we’re able to do that as humans.”

One of the songs on Hyperion that was inspired by the couple’s experience is “Bigger,” a bright and inspiring track laced with messages of hope and promise that there are better days ahead. Positivity and romance are two of the cornerstones of St. Lucia’s music, which can be sometimes polarizing in a world of heartbreak, grief and depressed ridden songs. “What we do musically is quite at odds with a lot of music in the world today. But, we feel like if you have a position where people hear what you have to say, you should use that to inspire them,” Grobler says.

The inspiration behind Hyperion‘s album title was two-fold, stemming from the science fiction book series by Dan Simmons and Greek mythology. After reading the book, Grobler says he became infatuated by how imaginative the world was and how there was such a positive balance of good and bad things. Upon further investigation into the term, the couple learned that in Greek mythology, Hyperion was one of the most powerful Titans, the Titan god of heavenly light and the father of the sun and dawn. “He was kind of like the juggler of the moon and the sun. He brought it to the people and explained it. I love the idea of yin and yang and I think our music is very much like that,” Beranek tells me.

Being able to interpret the album’s title in different ways is intriguing to Grobler because listeners are able to project their own experiences onto it. Though he is happy to offer his own interpretation of the album’s songs, he adds that when an artist explains a song too specifically, “it can sometimes remove the magic from a song.”

The magic on Hyperion lives in the new sounds St. Lucia created, along with the consistency of their uplifting lyrics. The album’s first two singles, “A Brighter Love” and “Paradise is Waiting” offered an eclectic introduction to this new era of St. Lucia. Grobler tells me that though “Paradise is Waiting” hasn’t garnered the level of success he was expecting yet, he’s optimistic the song will enjoy a second life later on. “It has this Motown vibe that may have thrown people off. There are always going to be people who wish things stayed the same but you need to just move forward with your story and express who you are at the time,” he says. That song in particular was recorded with a full choir, and the couple’s son (at a ripe two weeks old) was in attendance for the studio time, adding to the emotional connection for Grobler and Beranek.

By telling their story through music, Hyperion is meant to be a reflection of Grobler and Beranek at a specific moment in their lives musically and personally. “With all of our imperfections and idiosyncracies, and not trying to fix everything. In a way, [this album] is like releasing a photo of yourself un-photoshopped and without any makeup on,” Grobler says of Hyperion.

Celebrating their flaws and embracing their new roles in parenthood, the duo at the front of St. Lucia are inspiring and bold on their newest album, out September 21.

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