The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

‘Music for me is pretty all-consuming’: St. Lucia’s Jean-Philip Grobler on inspiration, memories and pop-duo’s future

With over 500,000 monthly Spotify listeners, Jean-Philip Grobler sheds light on what makes him and bandmate Patti Beranek beloved by so many.
Jean-Phillip+Grober+and+Patti+Beranek+of+St.+Lucia+%28Photo+courtesy+of+St.+Lucia%29
St. Lucia
Jean-Phillip Grober and Patti Beranek of St. Lucia (Photo courtesy of St. Lucia)

The Vanderbilt community is no stranger to the magic of the electro-pop duo, St. Lucia. Back in 2017, campus was graced by the presence of Jean-Phillip Grober and Patti Beranek at the annual Rites of Spring concert when their cheerful vibes and mesmerizing LED lights made The Hustler front page. Following the release of their latest album, “Utopia,” the duo has reconnected with Vanderbilt to provide a run-down on their latest venture and accomplishments.

Critics have praised “Utopia” for balancing the line between being a homage to ‘70s and ‘80s synth-pop and a timely commentary on our world after COVID-19-induced isolation. This balance makes sense considering Grobler’s primary musical influences, which are “Prince, Radiohead, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Phoenix, Fleetwood Mac and Talk Talk,” according to Grobler in a message to The Hustler. 

“I’m most inspired by artists that seem fearless to do their own thing and follow their vision despite the pressures that the world at large and broader music industry put them under,” Grobler said. “I now know from experience that those pressures never end, but the longer you do it and listen to and trust your voice, the easier and more rewarding it gets.” 

Grobler’s musical journey has not been linear and neither has his life. No stranger to travel and change, Grobler was born and raised in South Africa. He attended university in England, lived in New York for 14 years with his wife (and the second half of St. Lucia) and now resides in Germany with their two children. 

“St. Lucia started about five years into my time living in NYC, and up until that point I’d been making indie rock that, in retrospect, was always sorta trying to impersonate someone,” Grobler said. “At some point, I started learning to embrace all the music I love, including the stuff that wouldn’t be considered ‘good taste,’ into my musical vocabulary and that’s when I really felt I came into my own.” 

Until this latest release, Grobler and Beranek had not released a new album in three years. Considering the pair is raising two young children, this is not overwhelmingly surprising. However, Grobler explained that spending time with their children acts as a source of inspiration.

“If my physical and mental health are good, I’m cooking and eating great food, exercising [and] spending a good amount of time outside in the sun with my kids, the music and ideas seem to flow naturally and effortlessly,” Grobler said. “I realize this goes fully against the drugged-out artist cliche but it’s true. That being said, I do love a good glass of wine (or five) at the end of the day.” 

As a married, indie-pop duo busy pushing the boundaries of the genre, the band has had many memorable moments together, both while on tour and when exploring together in between shows. 

“Most of my best memories come from either driving through beautiful and dramatic landscapes—like from Banff to Vancouver through the Canadian Rockies or having days off in beautiful places,” Grobler said. “We once went for an epic 10-hour hike with our friends in the band Haerts in Sedona where we got truly lost for a couple hours as it was getting dark, the day after we played in Flagstaff, Arizona.” 

The tracks on “Utopia” explore how the pandemic has shifted the ways people interact with one another and how people have changed within themselves. Grobler discussed his visions for the future of the duo. 

“I would just love to be able to continue to do this at the level where we’re able to truly express the vision of the project and hopefully continue to grow and break through the noise,” Grobler said. 

As the duo seems continuously inspired by the world around them, what lies ahead for the band is currently unknown, but to fans like me, endlessly exciting.

“Utopia” is now streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. 

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About the Contributor
Sophie Edelman
Sophie Edelman, Former Staff Writer
Sophie Edelman (‘24) is studying cognitive, child and educational studies in Peabody College. As the former Music Correspondent, she is passionate about expanding coverage of local musicians and performances. She loves fish tacos, thrifting and working at Vanderbilt’s Acorn School! She can be contacted at [email protected].
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