(Photo credit: Vanessa Dos Santos)
Few tracks have captured my imagination like Twin Jude’s “lvr bby blu.” The track begins with the sound of ocean waves crashing against the shore. Then the melody kicks in. Is that a guitar or a keyboard that sounds like a guitar? I love that I can’t tell.
Her music immediately strikes me with a gentle power that is both haunting and wistful. This is music that seems to have been created inside a dream — literal “dream pop.” At first, it strikes me as a bit Cocteau Twins-esque (latter period Cocteau Twins, but I digress…) and then — Jude’s gorgeous vocals arrive. Hearing her coo softly, then shift effortlessly into a singing style that’s intimate, emotional and filled with longing — pulls me in further. I just want to listen to this again and again and again.
I started to wonder about the person who made this music. What is she like? What’s her story? What inspires her to make such extraordinary sounds? I wondered if she might be an intimidating person. I had nothing to worry about. When I met Jude at a DIY music and arts show in September 2018, she couldn’t have been more approachable and easy to talk to. Of course, one of the things we talked about was the possibility of Twin Jude playing WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE.
It took a while for the stars to align, but they finally did in June 2019. To my absolute delight, Twin Jude will be playing tonight’s WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE. Our mutual friend Hannah Burris, who plays viola for TEETHING VEILS, COVEN TREE and now TADZIO, will be guest djing. It’s going to be an incredible night of music, friendship and celebrating DC’s underground arts community.
Leading up to tonight’s show, I had the opportunity to find out more about Twin Jude via e-mail in our 5 Questions feature. As you can see, Jude has a lot of interesting things to say about her creative process, what it’s like making music in DC as an LGBTQ person of color, and where her creative muse is taking her…
1) The music of Twin Jude has an ethereal, dream-like quality – it’s almost like a soundtrack for that strange period where we drift between being awake and sleeping. What draws you to such wonderfully moody and atmospheric sounds?
Jude: First, this feels like such a lovely compliment for me, so thank you. I think my inner world feels like much of what you described. As a child (and still as an adult), I had a very engaged imagination and found myself feeling in between worlds at times. My personal connection with the natural and spiritual world feel intertwined. When I am required to be immersed in just one facet of being (i.e. the material world as we know it, especially interpreted through capitalism) I feel cut off from who I actually am, and have to find some way to return back to this place or realm of my own creation. Something about the outer world around me always felt a bit off and “unreal” to me. I think I’ve always been searching for something more than what western society at large has presented to us. These atmospheric, dream-like sounds feel like inner-ruminations and searchings for what is beyond the veil to a world unknown.
2) Can you tell us a little about your creative process? What’s it like for you to put together a track like “lvr bby blu”? Do you usually start with a vocal melody?
Jude: I have several processes actually. It usually depends on the resources and tools I have available at the time. Often, I’ll have a melody stuck within me, drifting in and out of both my sub-conscious and conscious mind, and have an almost compulsive need to flesh it out. Other times, I will start by creating with my synth first. Layering patterns and sounds and finding someway to challenge myself in terms of melody instead of more traditional rhythms and vocalization.
“lvr bby blu” actually has several versions, and is actually much older than most know. The version released on “MĒM” was formed through collaboration, and is a complete recreation of one of the OG version taken much further. Originally I was working with one of my friends named Ainsworth. He creates amazing sounds in a duo called “Cruza.” He created much of the foundational sounds of “lvr bby blu.” A year and some change passed between us working together, I wanted to flesh it out a bit more than it’s previous state. My friend Machell André helped me recreate much of the song by implementing more samplings of my voice and rhythms completely altering the atmosphere. I don’t have many people that I am able to work with to be honest, but in this collaboration, I felt very supported and encouraged to articulate some of the sounds I wanted to shine through that I may not have had the language for at the time.
3) What’s your take on DC’s underground music and arts community? As a woman of color and member of the LGBTQ community with a unique sound, how has your experience been so far?
Jude: In my opinion, DC’s underground music and arts community is very nuanced and layered, and I am completely in awe and in love with this community as a whole. I wish more folks knew what a treasure we have here of individuals pushing themselves and their work forward into the unknown. I feel that especially the Black and brown folks in the scene are actively pushing to create a culture where we can celebrate each other, hold each other accountable, and build intimate connections and infrastructure of support for each other.
As a Black and gender-noncomforming individual, my experiences within the community have varied depending on the setting. All-in-all, I have found myself among some very loving and open people. There are times when people’s outward perceptions about my race or gender presentation have created polarizing situations for me.
Larger institutions have definitely let me down and showed me that no matter how “progressive” these institutions like to appear, there is still much work to be done in terms of accountability, equality and respect to Black, brown, and queer creatives in DC, and the distribution of resources to the beings that are literally giving their life-force so these same institutions can have “diverse programming”.
The community itself is growing and changing continually. Currently, there are some people within this community that I am so proud of and completely believe in. I feel that more people are finally showing up for black women, showing up and becoming more educated on how to support transgender individuals, holding each other accountable and requiring a certain level of transparency amongst each other.
4) You recently took some time off from playing live to focus on writing and recording – what was that period of time like for you? I know you released a new track in April.
Jude: It has felt like womb of development. I’ve grown so much. I’ve changed so much. My sounds have transformed and informed me of how I have internalized and processed certain experiences that have happened over the past year. At times, certain things that I’ve created have even surprised me, and cause to really reflect on what we call frequency and sound. I feel much closer to my most authentic self and my loved ones though, and very grateful for that time.
And yes, in April, I released a work called “Palm.” It is actually a re-work of “té”. This re-work came about as I was preparing to open for Yaeji last year at Flash with No Intimate. It really struck a cord, and I wanted to be able to release it into the world as I was still developing and exploring other sounds.
5) What’s next for Twin Jude? Are you looking to make a full-length album in the near future? Or will we see more individual track releases and/or EPs?
Jude: I’m actually very excited to be releasing some new works as part of a collection very soon…I think I’d much rather have the work speak for itself in the manner that it decides to come out. 🙂
And check out Twin Jude’s live performance at the Friday, June 7th edition of WE FOUGHT THE BIG ONE at Marx Cafe (3203 Mt. Pleasant St. NW DC 20010) at 10pm.
(Photo credit: Vanessa Dos Santos)