Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Saint Judas. Together we discussed religion, their influences, their EP “Sidewalk”, blood rituals, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to Saint Judas for joining them at Music Shelf. How is everyone doing?
Thanks so much Mustard! I’m doing very well, super grateful to be joining you as well!
2. According to your Spotify bio “you are some kind of emo.” Can you clarify what kind of emo Saint Judas is?
Uh… I think I put “some kind of emo” mostly because I’m not really sure what kind of music I make. It’s too soft and folky for midwest emo, but too pop punk and emo for folk or indie rock. I’d say the kind of music Saint Judas is a kind of indie rock with major emo and pop punk influences: a dash of power chord riffs and a splash of open tuning twinkles. I think the closest term is “bubblegrunge” but I’m not exactly sure if that correct. Kind of like Slaughter Beach, Dog or Nana Grizol. Lots of depression and lots of anxiety.
3. Mustard has observed that Saint Judas is a religious figure. Would Saint Judas consider themselves religious?
Saint Judas is not religious, but I used to be. Christianity played a major role in my life growing up thanks to formative indoctrination, and the deconstruction of my religion was a major turning point in my life which helped define my personal worldview and direction in life. The name of the band is a sort of homage to that part of my life as I untangle the various traumas that I experienced. I’ve always said my music is a form of therapy, and the artistic process has served as a way to vent these feelings in a healthy manner. And Judas Iscariot was a figure that always fascinated me, both during my time as a Christian and afterwards as a nonreligious person. He gets a bad rap.
4. If Saint Judas could fix one impossible cause what would it be and why?
Oooh I love this question. I would definitely fix the impossible cause of dismantling our global capitalist systems. Fuck billionaires, power to the working class, dismantle the bourgeois. It would have a domino effect in changing income inequality, quality of life and happiness, systematic racism and transphobia, international poverty and hunger. The whole shebang, People deserve to live and exist and not be marginalized for who they are, and anyone that profits off of hate and bigotry is a piece of shit.
5. Mustard wonders how Saint Judas formed? What is your origin story?
Saint Judas was formed during the absolute lowest point in my life. Without getting into explicit details or having to use trigger warnings, I was at a point in my life where all of this anger and despair and depressive turmoil had built to the point that I was no longer safe in my own skin. I needed to get it out of me and previously I had used a lot of…. not good things to try and escape. Eventually I picked up a guitar and just started screaming how I felt to the tune of power chords and it felt… cathartic. It was like a release I was desperately in need of. One night I wrote a song and showed it to a friend of mine that was a musician and they loved it. I told him why I wrote the song and he said that I should keep writing, to let all those feelings out.
And I did. I didn’t really know what I was doing at first but 6 years later, I think I’m starting to get the hang of it and that original purpose remains my driving force in creating music. I write songs to help me navigate all the fucked up feelings I have and make sense of them in a healthy way. And on top of it, now, looking back, I see all the music that had helped me get through the lowest points and saved my life. I remember feeling so alone and then hearing music that expressed exactly what I was feeling, and I want to do everything I can to pass that feeling along to anyone else and let them know that they aren’t alone in how they feel and that they can get through it and survive. I don’t know if I’ll ever do that or have a meaningful impact on someone’s life like that, but I wanna try.
6. Who (or what) influences Saint Judas?
Influences? Well, for as for music, I’d say my big influences are Modern Baseball and Slaughter Beach, Dog. That’s where most of my pop punk and emo influences come from originally. But artists like Nana Grizol, The Mountain Goats, Sufjan Stevens, and Field Medic played a big part in the folkier sound I gravitate towards, making the amalgamation of the two different sounds. Nowadays, I’d say DIY emo pushes me and influences me currently, with bands like Riley!, Hodera, Big Aluminum, Palette Knife, Fox Teeth, I could go on. The DIY scene is always influencing me and pushing me to discover new things and hone the sound I want to make.
If you aren’t talking about musical influences, I’d say what influences me is my desire to create art. The passion we put into the creative process and desire to make something meaningful. Artists of all forms influence me in that way, and the people in my life that I truly love continue to influence me in my pursuit to create art and a life that I can be proud of.
7. What is Saint Judas’s creative process?
My creative process is fucking awful. It takes me forever to write my songs and then it takes longer to just get them recorded, produced, and released. Oftentimes, I feel like I’m too slow or as good as my peers when it comes to how quickly they can write songs that are (in my opinion) better than anything I’ll ever make. The imposter syndrome is suffocating. But I try to remind myself that everyone’s creative process is different, and paced differently too. And music is subjective, and it’s unfair of me to constantly compare myself to others. We can all create amazing things and that doesn’t make one inherently better than another, all it does is make a lot of great music and push us to improve.
All that said, my process specifically is that I will usually just play around on my guitar and sing nonsense as I play. I’ll try new things, like a different tuning, or different chord structures or guitar techniques, and as I’m playing I’ll sing along. Usually nonsense, but most times it reflects how I’m feeling (which is usually very depressed and anxious). It’s almost like I’m tinkering with a puzzle, and eventually I’ll land on a guitar part I find interesting and new with a line or two of lyrics that I really like and think could become an interesting song. I consider that moment as a sort of seed that I create, and once I plant that seed, I let the rest of the song grow from that one spot, and I explore what I want the central theme of the song to be lyrically. And I start building the instrumentals around it as well, finding riffs, guitar licks, bridges, playing around with the music of the song until I can transpose whatever’s in my head as the vision of the song into something I find really cool.
It might be a messy process, but creating art is messy and exciting and fun. I’m always learning new things as I go, and having new ideas that I want to explore.
8. Mustard wonders if you still have work in the morning?
Haha not tomorrow, thank god! It’s my day off. But usually I do have work in the morning, 6 am sharp : (
9. 2018 saw the release of your EP “Sideways.” Could you share what it was like to put this EP together?
Sidewalks was one of the most fun EPs to create. In hindsight, it’s not my… favorite EP, though it does have some of my favorite songs to perform live like Wallflower and Hyena.
The EP was so much fun to create though! Writing it was so creatively fulfilling because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted my sound to be yet, so I was experimenting a lot with different sounds and styles which make the whole EP a whirlwind of a listen. And recording was even more fun, since it was a couple of buddies and I just goofing around recording these songs while having a blast doing it. We had a ton of fun recording since we were just creating for the sake of creating, with no intention of releasing it or hoping for a successful release, just really enjoying hanging out and playing some tunes together.
10. Sidewalks help protect humans and keep them off the road. Did the sidewalk from the EP cover help inspire this EP?
The specific sidewalk from the cover did not have any specific role in inspiring the EP, sorry there’s no fun story behind it. I knew what I wanted the cover to be and we drove around until we found a good spot to take the picture.
Fun fact: there’s a banana on the cover in the distance that I’m walking toward which is a reference to a point in the song Wallflower where you can hear me say “banana” between the 1st chorus and 2nd verse, but that in itself has a whole story behind it as well.
11. Sidewalks are funded by taxpayers. Is Saint Judas okay with this?
Sidewalks are funded by the hard-earned money of the working class, and not any of the slimey ghouls at the top that dodge taxes all together. Support for Sidewalks is support for the working class. Seize the means of production, eat the rich.
12. How does one hold a Bioluminescent blood ritual? Are their permits one must obtain?
Bioluminescent blood rituals are best performed at the witching hours, deep in the forest on a cool fall night. Pentagrams are encouraged along with a sacrifice while bathed in the light of dancing fireflies. The only permit required is a contract with the devil 🙂
13. You followed up “Sidewalks” with “Songs for Dorian.” It opens up with a second chapter of “Therapy.” Was Saint Judas working on this EP while working on “Sidewalks?” What was the process behind this EP?
I was not working on Dorian while working on Sidewalks. All songs were written after Sidewalks was released.
Dorian was a huge step for me as far as figuring out myself as a musician. I knew the direction I wanted to take the sound of the project, and I undertook the entire process as a solo project. Every aspect of the EP was done by myself, with some light mastering at the end done by a buddy of mine. I’m very proud of Dorian for that reason.
The writing process for Dorian was all done after a big move that separated me from the life I had spent building for over a decade by hundreds of miles. I had moved to Florida, right when the coast was about to be hit by the real life hurricane Dorian. I felt like the storm was a physical manifestation of a storm brewing in my own mental health as I spiraled into a deep despair from the uncertainty of what my life was and if I was happy. Sidewalks left me with subtle optimism to the direction of my life, and Dorian came and threw it for a whirlwind. All the songs were written with honest simplicity and raw emotion.
14. You’re hungover at Grandma’s house. What hangover food does Grandma make Saint Judas?
Grandma’s making French toast, my favorite : )
15. Last January you released your newest EP “Terrible Year.” Is the EP name a reference to the global pandemic?
I had a feeling while making “a terrible year” that it could be construed as a response to the global pandemic, but all the songs were written pre-pandemic. Once the pandemic hit, the songs were only being finished up and I was doing all the post-production. But if the EP resonates with people in relation to the pandemic, I’m glad. Once my songs are out there for other people, they’re not mine anymore, and the meaning can help you in any way it comes.
16. Can you describe some spooky ghost noises? Are ghosts friendly?
Bwahhhhhh wooOAaaoOaaHHHH BraaWWWAaaAAoOOOOOOooo ooggggUUUuuaAoO IiiimmaAAaa GhooooOooOOOoostttTT PLEASE BE MYyyy FriIIeenndd.
Yes they’re friendly but only if you’re nice to them. If not they’ll ignore you.
17. How would you describe your live performances? Do you have any upcoming gigs?
My live performances can be described as raw, honest, emotional and high-energy. Most of my live performances are done solo, just me, an acoustic guitar and a kazoo, but I bring a lot of energy, a lot of screaming and shouting, and (hopefully) a lot of heart. I may not have a lot right now, but I promise I give you everything I got with every performance.
And I do have some gigs coming up! Quite a few but they haven’t been announced yet ; ). Be on the lookout for the southeast and west coast, USA. I also will be performing haphazardly in Phoenix, AZ, so if you live out there, keep a lookout on my social media cause they’ll pop up every now and then.
18. What is next for Saint Judas?
What’s next? Oh god, I have no idea. Just make some really fun tunes that I enjoy and hopefully others enjoy as well. Play some shows, write some songs. Working on getting a full band together for performances so that should be fun, I think having a consistent full band experience would be super fun.
Oh, and LP1, it’s been in the works for years now. It’s a concept album and I’m really excited to share the songs with everyone. I think I’m finally comfortable with the sound for the project, so now I can focus on building something really big and meaningful with the tools and friends I’ve made along the way. Definitely the best songs I’ve ever written. And I have a few smaller releases coming along the way, so there will definitely be a lot of new songs, some sooner than you think!
19. Where can readers listen to your music?
You can listen to Saint Judas on all places you find music: Spotify, Apple, Tidal, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, cassette, CD, live shows, thanks for listening and if you stream the tunes, it means the world 🙂 Thanks so much for having me here, Mustard!