An Interview With Christian Jude
The latest album release from Christian Jude is a colorful and harmonious record that touches on everything from classic rock to acoustic pop and does it all with heart and a wonderful folk undertone.
The Peanut Butter Skies & Strawberry Clouds album is vibrant and lush with textures and soundscapes complete with floating slide guitars and soft, melodic vocals that paint pictures and create entire landscapes you can almost see in front of you with each new track.
The songs edge on Americana and are filled with an array of beautifully performed instrumentation and a calming and peaceful yet honest feel.
This record is almost like a diary and it comes across youthful and alive with love and self awareness.
Plenty of tracks have some great messages and are very relatable, cinematic, and airy.
This is ultra refreshing and there are outstanding vocal hooks with almost every single song.
Some of this record really feels like a genuine classic rock aesthetic and it's very warming and comfortable.
It's like Beach Boys, Elliot Smith and The Beatles got together to make a record.
This was a sort of existential experience that all fans of great music should undertake and you can hear the love for his craft with all the songs.
With such a shining example of a great record, we had to have a chat with Jude about where it all comes from. Here's what happened.
TSWS: Okay so let's start off with the Peanut Butter Skies & Strawberry Clouds album. This record has some great psychedelic pop and classic rock all over it. Where did this album come from?
Christian: It's interesting that you hear those particular references in the music! To me, I was trying to strike a definite retro, vintage type sound-- by your estimation, that succeeded! Believe it or not, this album started as an image I saw on Instagram by an artist named Lân Nguyen (@19.xcv). He created this beautiful image of a cloud that looked like a strawberry and added a silhouette of a hand holding it. And I thought, "wow, a strawberry cloud, that's gorgeous." And then the aesthetic for the album took shape! I decided to really be personally expressive and honest about what I was going through mentally at the time with anxiety, hopelessness, hopefulness, and my evolving spirituality. This was combined with my fascination for a 70s, low fidelity, well constructed indie/folk sound like Whitney. And this all eventually turned into the album!
TSWS: Are you playing all the guitars and bass along with vocals on this?
Christian: Yes! All the instrumentation is my own on this album, with the exception of the beautiful violin work on "When Will It Be My Turn?" The musician's name is Betania Hernandez (@betania.sons). I do as much as I can on my own to maintain as much creative control and authenticity as I can!
TSWS: I'm hearing some killer styles on this album but who are your biggest actual musical influences?
Christian: Looking back, there are so many artists that have left their print on my music now. The Allman Brothers Band influenced me immeasurably, along with The Bee Gees, and Kenny G. Those are my roots. However, the music that has really shaped the overall sound I have would be Fleet Foxes, Whitney, Bob Marley, and Seals and Crofts.
TSWS: How did all of this start for you?
Christian: I have played guitar for 11 years now and I was always enamored with being able to replicate my favorite player's music. And for a long time I was perfectly happy playing covers in a band with my good friends. However, as I got a little older and more mature, my opinions and beliefs started to solidify more, and I became naturally more self expressive as a result. I started writing my own music about 3 years ago and it has been both a great blessing and a great challenge for me in my life. When you need a way to let things out, music is the key.
TSWS: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
Christian: I have about a million things happening at once when I'm not working on music! I work full time which is great, but I also am very into fitness, yoga, meditation, reading, spending time with my family, and being a Dungeon Master for Dungeons and Dragons! And at the end of the end of the day, it's always lovely to come home to your dog looking for a hug, so I love her very much too!
TSWS: This album feels like a massive undertaking. Is there any advice you'd have for other up and coming artists out there?
Christian: I think the biggest piece of guidance I can offer anyone either looking to start making music or a struggling artist like me is this: at the end of the day, YOU have to be proud of what you make. If you are writing music to make yourself happy, then it will never be a burden. The other huge piece of advice that gave me a lot of freedom is that there really are no rules when making music. There are certain practices that are reliable, but none of them are life or death. A good song is a good song-- it doesn't matter if it isn't EQed to industry levels or compressed in a perfect way. Allow the songs to write themselves and be a living, breathing entity. As an artist, you are the conduit for taking ideas and pulling them from the astral plane and making it into something others can see, hear, and feel. That's a beautiful purpose!
TSWS: Who are you listening to right now?
Christian: I always have Whitney playing at some time during my day, probably because "Used to Be Lonely" changed my perspective on music that I could make. Same with Fleet Foxes-- when I first heard "Third of May" years ago, that was the moment when my life changed and I knew music could TAKE you somewhere vs just being something to listen to! Kings of Convenience have been a MASSIVE influence on me and I'm studying up for their next album to drop in a few weeks! But I have been trying to expand my music acumen as well and am listening to alot of well constructed video game music to develop my ear for chord extensions and how to add more color to my songs!
TSWS: What sort of things really inspire you to write a song?
Christian: I think imagery is very inspiring for me. If I have a certain visual in my head, I will write a song around that visual. Phrases that kind of sit well in my mouth always inspire me to write as well! Also, hearing a song that really resonates in my head inspires me because I think to myself "that song is amazing, I want to give it a go and try this thing they did or that chord progression!"
TSWS: How do you actually write your songs? Is it lyrics first or guitar chords? How does it work for you?
Christian: Honestly, it starts with some sort of visual. I have to have an aesthetic in my mind that I put words and music around. I would have to be honest and say that the guitar helps craft the words, and the words flavor the chords simultaneously. It's this symbiotic approach that feels very organic and open. If I try to do too much guitar or lyrics first, I feel locked in. Songwriting is a process that needs a lot of space and room to breathe I learned!
TSWS: Will we see any music videos from you in the future?
Christian: Maybe! The nice thing about writing music is that I can do it on my own and when there's time. Music video production involves potentially a lot of people and planning. I focus more on the audio and less on the visual if I can. But for some upcoming singles that will be released in the future, there is a very high chance that a music video coincides!
TSWS: What's next for you as an artist?
Christian: I have so many ideas for albums after Peanut Butter Skies & Strawberry Clouds! Video game music, a real Iron & Wine sounding folk album...I just chip away at them and keep looking forward to the next thing to create. The one thing I know I want to do more of in the near future is performing live! I miss the raw, natural sound of live music and it helps me connect with the listeners better!
TSWS: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Christian: That I am so beyond grateful for the support, ANY kind of support you show. Knowing that my music that was once an idea and feeling in my mind, and having it be turned into something that another human understands is a blessing beyond compare. Just know I am grateful for the listens and support I receive!