Saint Jude: “I like the idea of thinking of music like Signals”

Over the last couple of years Jude Woodhead, aka Saint Jude, has been carefully making a name for himself as one of the most exciting artists to come out of London. Not one to shoehorn his music into a specific genre, Jude’s sound stems from a multitude of influences from electronica to punk, and everything between, enabling him to achieve an extraordinarily unique sound currently making serious waves.

Saint Judes’ raw talent is most evident within his brand new, forthcoming debut album entitled Signal. A statement of intent, the album which is set to drop mid-November showcases a self-portrait of coming of age during a time of crisis — a collage of world building and intimate songwriting which explores the tension between Jude’s inner world and outer world. With two successful EP releases under his belt, Saint Jude and Bodies of Water, the young south-London native continues to make a name for himself, delivering diverse sounds and musicality beyond his years. Releasing via London tastemaker Slow Dance Recordings, we caught up with Jude about his brand new project.

How’s things? How are you feeling ahead of your album release?

Yeah alright not bad, I’m feeling good about it. Looking forward to finally letting go of these songs so I can really start thinking of what I’m gonna do next. The whole process of releasing music makes it hard to focus on making new things, so I’m kind of just looking forward to getting it out of the way.

What did you get up to over the summer? Did you find some time for yourself and to relax?

Not really, I’ve been working all summer and using days off to work on the album and singles release and work on the live show, so haven’t really had much time off. I’m not working full time now though, and trying to get back to making music but it’ll take a while to get back into the flow again.

You have a super unique sound, but I’ve read you don’t like to categorize music too rigidly. Can you talk to us more about this?

Yeah, I think a lot of the ways people talk about genres and categories of music are kind of outdated and can be a bit limiting to how we think about and hear music. Maybe like 30 years ago it made sense to say this band is a grunge band, or this is an R&B artist or whatever, but in most cases now, or at least with most of the music I encounter, it’s really rare that an artist fits completely into one of these categories. And when these categories get put on artists that aren’t fitting in with these genre tags, artists basically get put in boxes depending on their race or gender or whatever — I know people whose music gets called rap music because they’re black and from London, but they don’t rap! Or when black men sing they’re “soul”, when black women sing it’s R&B, when white men sing it’s Indie Pop and when white women sing it’s just straight Pop music. All this shit means nothing, it’s just using social categories to limit the way we think about music. I know this isn’t on purpose – but I think it’s a laziness or unwillingness from people that write about and discuss music to find ways to talk about music that actually reflects what the music itself is doing.

Also – this isn’t me saying that my music is special and that it doesn’t fit in with these categories, I think it’s just limiting to think about music like that in general. Obviously it doesn’t make sense to never say that a song is a certain genre, but I think we need to develop a better vocabulary to talk about music with, and resist these categories when they don’t make sense.

How did you first start developing your sound? What were your early influences?

The sound is always developing — it’s never a finished product. It’s always changing and this sound is just the place that I was when I was making the album. But it’s always been changing. I started off making dubstep tunes, then was doing rap beats, then like Four Tet-type club music and then songwriting. It’s always hard to tell what influenced you when you’re young but I listened to Demon Days a lot when I was young, as well as the first XX album. And those two albums I think influenced my music a fair bit – but I was listening to Linkin Park and Green Day as a kid as well and I can’t really hear that stuff in my music at all, but maybe it has influenced me, it’s hard to tell.

You grew up in London, how has the city impacted your overall sound, as well as aesthetic?

Yeah man it’s impacted everything, I’m the person that I am because of where I grew up. There’s probably nothing about my music that isn’t the way it is because of where I’m from. So it’s hard to say how its impacted my sound because it’s everywhere.

Congratulations on your new album Signal, it is an excellent record from start to finish. Where did the title originate from?

I’m not really sure where I originally got the idea from but I like the idea of thinking of music like Signals, or like radio stations you can tune in and out of, like this interconnected web of songs and cultural influences and stuff like that. Also at its most basic, songs are just audio signals – but it’s a carrier signal for all these emotions and meanings and stuff, but it’s still just audio signals.

When crafting an album, do you go into the studio with a concept that you want to work around, an audio palette that you want to play in?

For this album I didn’t have much of a concept to work with. I just had certain things I was thinking a lot about and these things became themes on the album. And production-wise it’s the same, I have certain things that I like the sound of and it’s those things that I gravitated towards when I was writing and producing the record. For the next thing I do I want there to be more of a concept and I want my next work to be more focussed in on something.

Can you tell us more about your creative and production process for Signal?

The songs were written in quite different ways, so there wasn’t one process for the whole album. But I did produce it all myself, and I recorded everything myself at home. I worked quite a lot with samples, and if I felt that I wanted to express something that I couldn’t do myself — I got someone else to do it. I made so many songs during the time I wrote the album but they’re mostly really bad and there were another couple of songs that I initially was going to include, but I decided that they didn’t fit.

What was the most challenging track on Signal to make?

Probably “Barrel of a Gun”. There was a lot of stuff in that track that was difficult to write, I couldn’t get a lot of the sounds right for a long time, I tried re-writing the lyrics so many times, and I’m still not really happy with it. It’s one of them ones where you have to let it go basically, and decide whether or not to include it. My favourite songs I’ve made are the ones that were easiest to make, and the hardest ones are my least favourite.

You’ve mentioned the album is a “self-portrait, but also a reflection of the world as it has changed” — how do you feel about the changes in today’s society?

Not sure if that’s really what I meant – I was basically saying that I was trying to write about the world – but in my writing it gives away more about myself than actually sheds light on the world. if that makes sense. There’s a lot of changes in society and I feel differently about all of them.

You have a couple of features on the album including words from Trim and fellow emerging artist Louis Culture. How did you decide who to bring on the album and did you know you wanted these specific features before the tracks were produced?

A few times when making the album there was something I wanted to express. An emotion or feeling or whatever that I couldn’t express with my own voice (voice both literal human voice and also artistic voice), so I got someone else to try and express that thing that I couldn’t. That verse from Louis Culture for example is something that I wanted to say, but I don’t really have the flows or charisma or whatever to get that feeling across. Same with the ending of the first track Does. I don’t have the kind of power in my voice to communicate what I wanted to say, but Aga Ujma can do that.

You already have a lengthy catalogue of tracks — what does your writing process look like now? Is writing therapeutic for you or does it feel like work?

It’s always a bit of both, and as I’m trying to get back into making new shit, I’m trying to have fun with it and not make it feel like work. Because towards the end of making this album it was definitely feeling like work which is fine, you can’t be doing pure expression the whole time, but at the moment when you’re trying to make new things, its suffocating if it feels like work. You can’t approach a blank project like “this is gonna be on my next album” or whatever — that’s too much pressure.

We would love to hear more about your live show and what to expect?

At the moment the live show is me and my bro Tobias, it’s maybe a bit more dancefloor-orientated than the album is, Tobias produces house music basically so it’s got some of that in there. But the live show is a work in progress — there’s definitely things that I want to express live that I’m not able to in this live show at the moment. But I’m very new to performing live so we’ll see.

Final question, if you could collaborate with any artist, who would you choose and why?

Such a hard question. Either Kanye during MBDTF kind of time, or maybe Bjork.

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