St. Jude, in Catholic folklore, is the patron saint of lost causes. However, his musical namesake — transfused through the talented young London artist Saint Jude — is far from that.
Melding influences from sample-based gods (Madlib, Four Tet) to alternative guitar-greats (Radiohead, King Krule), Saint Jude’s musical aesthetic is sonically acrobatic. His story thus far is already one of great overcoming, having been diagnosed with tinnitus in his late teens, which has prevented him from going to gigs and playing live music.
Saint Jude has had to navigate his musical career somewhat differently to other artists at his stage. Honing his craft in the confined space of his own bedroom has allowed him to focus resolutely on his music, away from the noise and strobe lights of club settings.
His first sermon was a self-titled five-track EP, released in October 2019 on innovative London label and arts collective Slow Dance. Now, Saint Jude has unveiled his new EP Bodies of Water, which may just be one of the best hidden gems you’ll uncover this year.
EUPHORIA. caught up with Saint Jude (Jude Woodhead) to talk about the new EP, his dream artist collaborations, and the value that music holds in his life.
Your sophomore EP Bodies of Water is out now. Is there anything you’re hoping to communicate about yourself through this record? I think anything about myself on there is kind of by accident, I hope it doesn’t come across as about myself. I’m just trying to explore certain things and the best way to do that sometimes is in the first person.
Was there a conscious decision to carry the theme of liquidity throughout the EP? It was more something I clocked afterwards. I think I subconsciously always return to lyrics about water, or the sea, or rivers as metaphors for stuff. I’ve realized I did the same thing on the album I’m working on as well.
“Altitude” definitely carries resonances of King Krule in its sound. Would you ever consider doing a collaboration together? Who would be your dream artist/musician to collaborate with? Maybe, but to be honest I think the best collaborations are people with really different skill sets, or even singers with different kinds of voices, I think that way you get much less predictable results. Dream collaborator is a hard question — I think maybe Hope Sandoval, she’s an amazing songwriter and I love her work with Massive Attack. There’s a lot of rappers who I really rate at the moment that I’d love to work with as well: pink siifu, mavi, Novelist, Earl Sweatshirt would be sick!
You’ve worked with Slow Dance in London since 2015. Is the DIY ethos they implement across their work also important to you as an artist? Yeah definitely, Slow Dance definitely get the process of making music as an artistic thing rather than a content thing.
Can you tell us a little about the ways you’ve had to navigate through your musical career with tinnitus? Basically by avoiding gigs and clubs. I don’t play live shows and only DJ on my radio show. It’s a shame because so much of the scene is based around gigs, but you find ways to connect with people outside of gigs.
How important has it been for you to focus on taking the positives from working with your condition as opposed to solely dwelling on the negatives? Yeah really important for sure — there’s no point dwelling on the negatives; it just is what it is. There definitely aren’t any positives with tinnitus though it’s just something you have to deal with.
Do you think music would feel as valuable to you as it does now if you hadn’t gone through the challenges you’ve faced in your career? To be honest I think music would be just as valuable whatever the situation. It’s valuable to all people everywhere, so I think it’s not really about the context of tinnitus and stuff. Maybe it even makes music feel less valuable because it’s something that could potentially be taken away.
What inspired you to make a zine alongside the new EP? I’d been meaning to do a zine for a really long time — like a few years but had never got round to it for some reason, and it seemed like it was a good reason to make myself do it. I just organized it though. There are pages from loads of my friends on it and my friend Travis Barton did the same amount of work as me on the zine, so it’s way more of a group project.
You’ve received high praise from the likes of Matt Wilkinson (Apple Music) and Lauren Laverne (Radio 6 Music) for your most recent work. As an artist, how does it make you feel hearing positive comments on your music? Does it feel weird or is it something that you embrace? Yeah, it’s really good! But I don’t think about it that much. Not all of my songs have got that much attention, so if I was always measuring myself by other people’s praise it might make me wonder why more of my songs have got praise and others not, and then that could make you a bit too dependent on what other people think.
What’s in store for you in the post-lockdown world? An album in the works, perhaps? I’m working on an album at the moment. All of the songs are written and produced, I’m just waiting to mix it and work on the videos and artwork and stuff. I’m also working on some collaborations as well at the moment; I’m working with Khazali, Louis Culture, HALINA, Glows, and a few more other collab projects as well. Not sure what I’ll do after the album, but I’m writing songs at the moment, which will probably be on whatever project comes next.
Finally, what’s the ultimate vision for Saint Jude? There’s no ultimate vision, the Saint Jude thing is just a way for me to make the kind of stuff that I want to make so I’m just seeing where it goes. The ultimate thing is to be able to carry on doing this basically.