If science could create talent, Jude might be Dr. Jeckyl’s attempt at a rock star gone awry. He is not a folkie or a bubble-gum pop star, not heavy metal or even alternative, but a rare combination of homogenous music styles.
Jude, better known by his mother as Michael Jude Christodal, was born in Boston, the son of a father who toured pubs in Europe as a professional musician. “I listened to a lot of oldies growing up,” Jude recalled. “My dad used to play a lot of doo-wop songs [and] a lot of folk songs.” As Jude grew older, he aspired to follow in his father’s footsteps, only to become frustrated with music. He turned to education as a way to redirect his energy, eventually earning a degree in Philosophy. Still, music was in his blood. Los Angeles was calling and Jude answered. He decided to head west.
“I was determined,” he recalled. “I wasn’t giving up. I was working at a lot of places. I was working in a computer store and I was working [as a janitor] in a building where they did casting for commercials and stuff.” As a computer salesman, Jude broke into conversation with a customer concerning music. The customer was so enamored by the quality of Jude’s song, “Cammie (I Do)”, that he advanced him $100 for a studio session. Jude entered with four songs and left with fourteen.
As he toured the L. A. music scene, Jude sustained a consistent following. The audience was treated to a show that mesmerized them each and every time. His dream was realized in late 1997 when he put pen to paper and inked a deal with Maverick Recording Co.
So, did he get to meet Madonna (Co-CEO of Maverick)? “I did,” he said keeping his comments safely at a minimum. “It was fairly inconsequential [to his signing with Maverick].”
“I listened to a lot of oldies growing up. I sent away for all kinds of Motown mix tapes. Eventually [I listened to] a lot of pop music on the radio: Culture Club, George Michael, The Gap Band and Rolling Stones and Beatles records.”
Best thing about being a musician
“Freedom. Freedom to create.”
And the worst
“Battling the influence of people around you to compromise for commercial success. That is even within yourself. You look around and you are like, ‘Man, I’ve got to get a fucking hit.’
I just want to maintain a level where I can just write music instead of doing something else. So, I think it gets less easy all the time. Everyone around you says, ‘Hey man, you’ve got to do this or you’ve got to do that.’ Other than that, it’s the best gig in the world.”
“Ninety percent of this album is written for myself. Now that I’m expanding, I am almost becoming conscious of people listening to it. I imagine that it will start to seep in. You’ve got to do it for yourself or write country songs.”
“Commercial music is a process of compromised sellout. Everyone on the radio has to [sell out] to one extent or another. I don’t even know what that means anymore. When I grew up, all my favorite music was on the radio. Thus, I wanted to be on the radio, too. For a long time I went through a period of writing where I kind of didn’t care. It takes a lot of work. You’ve got to want to be there.”
“It doesn’t bother me [to be categorized as a folk singer]. It’s a miscategorization. It’s a mistake, so if someone doesn’t understand folk music, then that’s cool. [It was] probably because during the whole first tour it was just me and a guitar.”
After some small talk about the lack of star quality in music today, we parted company. Jude left with one last tongue-in-cheek quote. “Spread the word. I’m not a folkie.”
+ charlie craine