Lauren Laverne, who featured "Deaf Ears, Blind Years" as her Fantastic Beats track: "Absolutely beautiful", “glorious” Tom Ravenscroft: "Can't stop listening to that record, so so gorgeous!" Matt Wilkinson: "It's a really beautiful sound." In catholic lore, Saint Jude is the patron saint of lost causes; however, his musical namesake is far from that. Saint Jude has overcome trepidation to create highly focused work that teems with bright colours, shimmering textures and raw emotion at every turn. His vibrant second EP, Bodies Of Water, is out physically and digitally 16th April 2021, with the teasing of his debut album on the horizon. Alongside this EP marks the beginning of a partnership between his long-term UK label and collective Slow Dance Records and US label tmwrk Records (Grady, Molly Payton, Herizen, Onyx Collective). For an artist as many-layered and sonically acrobatic as Saint Jude, every new release is somewhat of a surprise: the South London-based producer Jude Woodhead moves rapidly from strength to strength. Sonically, Jude’s music is intricate, chameleonic; his talents as a producer were inspired by sample-based greats like The Avalanches, Madlib and Four Tet, so there’s always a richness and variety to his sounds. Influenced by club music and jazz, there are also nods to contemporary masters like Radiohead, King Krule, Mount Kimbie, Jamie XX and Nicholas Jaar. There’s a unique energy to the way he works, which could be a symptom of his forced departure from making conventional dance music; during his late teens, Jude developed the tinnitus which prevented him from being able to go to clubs, gigs, or play live. Rather than killing his passions, it made him far more focused, taking his sound away from the strobes and vast spaces of club settings, and into the confined spaces of his own bedroom. Lockdown, he’s noted, has definitely had an effect on songwriting process: ‘I’m not really writing songs as much about my life at the moment, because there's far less going on, I’m more writing about wider themes, or making up stories and characters and writing about their lives rather than my own’. Compared to the music he initially released under ‘Jude Woodhead’, Saint Jude has a fully formed, distinctive sound. He has evolved to depend on his own assured vocals and inputs original guitar lines; the result of an artist spending too many months spent in sample-clearing purgatory. The EP was made over a long period, with two of the tracks made during lockdown and mixed by Jude at his house in quarantine: Over the past year or so I’ve been using noise and distortion a lot more - I bought an akai reel to reel ¼ inch tape machine and have been using that a lot - running audio in at a high volume to overdrive the tape. I think the need to fuck with audio has been a bit of a response to a general anger I’ve been feeling at the world basically since the election late last year. I think I haven’t yet channelled that anger in a song, but I think it’s come out subconsciously in how far I’m pushing the distortion in some of these songs. The three most driven songs on this EP - Molina remix, Arms and the Archeologist were all mostly produced since then. “Bodies of Water” opens with its eponymous track, which Jude marks as containing some of the first lyrics he ever wrote: ‘I was basically trying to talk about human connection, anxiety, failures in communication, that kind of thing. I wrote the lyrics a few years ago so it was strange to release it this year.’ “Keep The Light Inside The House'' was released last April and received praise from The Line of Best Fit for having a unique ‘blend of genres lost somewhere between indie and post-club electronica’. Jude directed the music video for it himself and part-based the lyrics on Tarkovsky’s Mirror. Though dark and unpredictable as the film that inspired it, the track is hopeful, uplifting and dream-like, almost euphoric at times. “Altitude” came from a place of solitude and seems somewhat fitting to be released during these current times of widespread isolation. Referencing days ‘spent inside’ and being tormented by a ‘violent moon’ evoke how many of us experience day-to-day life in lockdown, despite being written a few years ago. Jude reminisces on the time of writing that ‘a lot of my friends had left London, I had come out of a relationship and it seemed like I had lost a bit of the sense of community that I had for the few years before that’. The visualiser for this track is made up of footage Jude shot during a road trip back from Italy while Europe was going into lockdown in March last year. With “Altitude” using the lyrical image of a tidal wave and sound effects, there is a liquidity to the entire EP. At times calm and mellow, it builds up to clashing crescendos and spans various emotional ranges. There is the sense of being on the edge, with “Keep The Light Inside the House” also talking about ‘drowning’ and previous single “Molina” a tribute to the late Songs: Ohia frontman, who died victim to alcoholism. “The Archeologist”, the focus track of this EP, is about a character uncovering things from her past, sonically inspired by Joy Division and 80s coldwave bands. Jude created distortion for this track with a broken delay pedal, and the reversed echoes on the synth sounds propel this track into something immediately striking. The video alongside this track is footage of boxers by Alex Stanley-Ruthven, filmed in Liverpool and edited to the track. “Arms” is about money, religion, rebellion, which Jude marks as ‘the reasons for violence in the world’. Though strikingly industrial sounding, the track is also a sort of heavy lullaby that ends destructively in clashing, warped discordance. Jude connects the motif of ‘brothers in arms’ with the masculine need for unity through these dysfunctional means. When Jude wrote the track, he notes, ‘it seemed like there were so many violent conflicts going on simultaneously - the use of violence by police in the US, Chile, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Malaysia, as well as the war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.’ The EP closes with the cover of labelmate Glows’ track “Molina”, released as a single in December 2020 and praised by So Young Magazine: ‘Saint Jude is a viscerally beautiful artist. A heartfelt monitor of humanity and beaten electronica, ‘Molina’ is as much a brief kiss with mortality as it is a reminder of euphoric pluck; relieving pressure by facing up to life’s shower head as stroboscopic memories drip over-head like a thousand little accolades of flashed truth.’ (Al Mills) Reading extracts from Molina’s biography and the death report over the crescendo of noise, there’s the sense of life flashing before his eyes, a darker and more intense version of its original. Working on this track in early quarantine, Jude said ‘I think I released a lot of the pent up energy I had, running layers of a Korg Sigma synth really driven into my tape machine, and distorting everything a bit more than I normally would.’ Slow Dance is a label Jude has been with from the beginning, playing their second ever party in 2015. It was founded in 2016 and remains a profoundly DIY label and collective made up of artists, musicians, designers, A&R scouts, managers and filmmakers. The collaborative nature of the organisation means that lines between art, music and industry sensibilities are blurred and evolved into something entirely new. His first sermon was a self-titled five track EP, released in October of 2019 on Slow Dance. On the label, Jude says: ‘Everyone understands the music, and it’s such a privilege to have my music put in the context of all the other music Slow Dance has released. Everyone’s really like-minded when it comes to collaboration as well’. In Slow Dance’s true multidisciplinary form, there will be a zine released alongside the EP, produced by Jude and various visual artist / writer friends.
Slow Dance is a London based music collective, label, radio and promotions company started in 2015.
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