Joel St. Julien

Following his critically acclaimed album Empathy, Dragon’s Eye Recordings presents Haitian-American artist Joel St. Julien’s, Masking. St. Julien digs deeper into personal explorations of his previous works, considering the human impulse of cloaking their true selves to better blend into reality.

St. Julien’s inspiration for the album came from a mid-life discovery that unexpectedly pushed him into understanding his neurodivergence. The idea of “masking”—the process of learning certain behaviors to conform to the pressures of seeming “normal”—made him realize that he had been hiding his struggles rather than expressing them. His work, in turn, mirrors this realization, moving away from self-blame and towards self-acceptance.

The entirety of Masking is a lush, dynamic exploration of mood and identity—each track possesses its own distinct flavor, temperature, texture. But as a whole, larger shifts take shape. Its introduction is brief and inquisitive—it glistens and shimmers like sunlight through stained glass, a hopeful entry-point into organic self-reflection. Some tracks create spacious and meditative ambience, considering selfhood with equal parts gentility and complexity. Others are much more kinetic: they entangle elements of techno and hip hop into glitchy, wordless conversations. 

Though its name suggests otherwise, “Le Grande Finale” serves as the penultimate track, anchoring the many elements of the album into a singular, gorgeous mesh; it builds with excitement until it breaks away from its own mania, and floods with revelation. 

And with the outro, “everythingischangingallthetime,” there is peace. Though just barely a minute, the track is a cinematic and wistful look back at the ground that’s been covered. St. Julien created Masking to investigate one’s awareness—what we choose to see, what is hidden, what we ignore, what we embrace—and this final track summarizes the meaningful impact of such an introspective undertaking.