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Chris Carmack and Wife Erin Slaver Continue Making Beautiful Music Together — Despite a Pandemic

People logo People 12/18/2020 Tricia Despres
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As a pandemic continues to roar outside their California window, Life on Eris' bandmates Chris Carmack and Erin Slaver have spent the past year doing their best to infuse beauty into this world, through their music. But as the parents of 4-year-old daughter Kai, the pain of the pandemic still finds a way periodically to permeate their souls, especially when they least expect it.

"There is a world that I had imagined giving to my 4-year-old … and I'm not able to give that world to my 4-year-old," says Carmack, 39, during an exclusive interview with PEOPLE. "I hope we will be able to soon, but I miss giving her the playdates and the trips to Disneyland and the afternoons at the museum and the nights where we go out to watch live music performances. For me, that's been the hardest part of all of this. I'm very sad not to be able to give her those things."

a man and a woman sitting in a tree: "Erin came to me with the idea and the more we looked at it, the more we realized how lyrical [Frost's] writing really was," the actor and singer tells PEOPLE © Courtesy Chris Carmack "Erin came to me with the idea and the more we looked at it, the more we realized how lyrical [Frost's] writing really was," the actor and singer tells PEOPLE

It's not only a feeling that parents around the world have experienced in the cruel year of 2020, but it's also this example of the dichotomy of the emotions that the year has brought everyone. Because just as the Grey's Anatomy star and his wife reflect on all they cannot give to their daughter, they witness a moment where they remember all that their little girl has given them.

a man standing next to a tree in a forest: Chris Carmack and Erin Slaver © Provided by People Chris Carmack and Erin Slaver

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"She's 4 years old, so she's resilient," Slaver explains. "She is so eager to explore anything new. Everything is exciting to them. To see the world through a 4-year old's eyes is incredible."

Indeed, to see the world through different eyes is an ability that Slaver and Carmack seem to have been able to do not only personally, but professionally as the new alt-pop duo Life on Eris. The couple's debut EP Stonewall, released back in October, touches on everything from the complexities of marriage to the beauty of reconciliation.

But just like every creative soul, the pandemic has certainly affected their creativity, something that rings true throughout their new song "Lovely, Dark and Deep," which pulls lines and inspiration from Robert Frost's poignant poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."

"It's always been one of my favorite poems," says Slaver, who began classical violin training at the age of 3. "I actually think I memorized it in the fifth grade! Obviously, I didn't grasp the depth of the poetry until I was much older. There is so much symbolism behind his words."

Chris Carmack et al. posing for a photo: Jason Davis/FilmMagic Erin Slaver and Chris Carmack © Provided by People Jason Davis/FilmMagic Erin Slaver and Chris Carmack

RELATED: Grey's Anatomy and Nashville Actor Chris Carmack Marries Girlfriend Erin Slaver

"Erin came to me with the idea and the more we looked at it, the more we realized how lyrical [Frost's] writing really was," adds Carmack, who first met Slaver while filming the TV drama Nashville. "We ended up using his words for the verses, but then we took a few liberties and rewrote a chorus to make it a little less dark."

Granted, both say that the darkness of the poem and the darkness of their Americana-tinged arrangement of that poem harkens back to the rather dark times in which we are all currently living in.

"The world is stuck in the woods right now, but, like the poem says, if we want to get back to the promise we have to keep, we have to remember that we will get out of the woods eventually," says Slaver. "We have to power through all of this craziness right now, so we can eventually get through the dark and find our way back."

This pendulum between dark and light, happiness and sadness, fear and courage – it's a pendulum that Carmack and Slaver have long done their best to balance not only during the pandemic and the subsequent quarantine, but throughout the entirety of their two-year marriage.

a man standing next to a tree: Lisa-Marie Mazzucco Life on Eris © Provided by People Lisa-Marie Mazzucco Life on Eris

RELATED: Grey’s Anatomy Star Chris Carmack Describes the 'Emotional Fallout' After Justin Chambers' Departure

"We don't always walk in the door and it's a fairytale around here," laughs Carmack, who is best known for playing the character Dr. Atticus Lincoln on the ABC medical drama Grey's Anatomy. "Relationships can be so complex, especially during a pandemic. However, I would say I feel stronger now than I did at the beginning about our relationship. We both have grown in our ability to say I'm sorry."

"I feel like, with this time, I have dealt with some things I had been putting off for many years, and I think that has changed some of the dynamics in our relationship," Slaver adds. "We understand each other and know each other better now. We used to look forward to date nights and taking trips together, but for me, I have replaced that excitement by recording a song in the studio with Chris."

And when all else fails, they look at that adorable daughter that their beautiful love story ultimately created.

"When I lay down with Kai at night, I always ask her, 'Are you a happy girl?' and she always says, 'Daddy, I'm so happy,'" Carmack recounts. "Really, that's all you need."

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