Pret-a-Reporter

Inside Music Duo St. Lucia's Artsy Abode

Sami Drasin
St. Lucia's Grobler (left) and Beranek photographed Aug. 27 at their Williamsburg residence.

The synth-pop duo and real-life sweethearts open up their Williamsburg residence ahead of their sophomore LP.

"We have a queen-sized bed, Patricia!" St. Lucia frontman and principal songwriter Jean-Philip Grobler, 32, shouts in mid-air. He’s jumping up and down on the bed with wife and keyboardist Patti Beranek, while a photographer tries to capture the moment for their Billboard photo shoot.

"You’re kneeing me every time you jump!" Beranek, 33, fires back playfully. Though the bed proves too small for acrobatics, the indie power couple, who moved into a luxury one-bedroom apartment in Williamsburg in 2009, has every reason to be giddy. The act, who has toured with Ellie Goulding and Charli XCX, has just wrapped its sophomore album, a follow-up to 2013’s When the Night, as well as a mini-run with Empire of the Sun.

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Expats Grobler, who grew up in South Africa, and Beranek, who was raised in Germany, met at university in Liverpool, England, before moving to the United States. "The longer I lived overseas, the more I appreciated being from South Africa," he says of the international touches that accent the sunny apartment. "I wanted things that remind me of home." The couple, who wed in Beranek’s hometown of Konstanz in 2012 ("It was a very drunken wedding"), admits that being married bandmates is a balancing act. "We’ve been in a relationship for 13 years," says Beranek, "and it’s not easy all the time," a topic Grobler lyrically explored on the new album. 

With the first single, "Dancing on Glass," dropping in October via Columbia, the currently untitled LP represents a shift toward the mainstream, with Grobler’s first attempt at co-writing with Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff and Tim Pagnotta (Walk the Moon, Neon Trees). "It wasn’t like writing with Dr. Luke," he jokes. "Not that I’m against that. But I don’t want St. Lucia to turn out like everything else. It might limit our appeal to everyone in the world, but it makes us more special."

GRAPHIC ATTACK: "We recently had this print from artist James Alma framed," says Beranek. "When we were looking for clothes for this shoot, we were drawn to my [Mary Meyer pants and Jean’s [Lazy Oaf] shirt. [We thought] it was the same artist!"

WORLD AFFAIRS: The Latin American folk art-inspired tapestry (above), bought at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, and the South African elephant beads (below) highlight the couple’s love of multicultural home decor. "Elephants are always good luck!" says Beranek.

WELL-DISGUISED: "My mom always had different African masks [left, above] in the home I grew up in," says Grobler. "They’ve been in our music videos, they’re going to be on our album cover ... we have a few from Mexico in the bathroom. [They] fascinate me. We’ve become collectors."

TWO FOR THE ROAD: "We use a pocket piano, which is like a really cool, random generator," says Beranek. "I also got Jean an OP-1 for his birthday, which is this really cleverly designed device from Sweden that allows you to sample from the radio. It looks and sounds like the future."

This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 issue of Billboard magazine.

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