Christian Jude releases a new album full of retrospective and emotion, exploring his self expression on mental health, hope, and helplessness. The album, Peanut Butter Skies & Strawberry Clouds invites elements of music from the 70's drawing inspiration from the likes of Bob Marley, Seals & Croft, and The Bee Gees, while twisting them with a modern indie flare.
"My Heart, My Throat", one of the songs on the album, takes us back to post-Indian influenced Beatles with what appears to be the use of a sitar, an Indian style guitar that provides a unique sound which the Beatles used often. Add to that beautifully layered vocals, an abundance of percussive instruments, and a orchestral chorus and you can see that Christian Jude really enjoys that 70's vibe. There is even a song on this album that is solely a calming piano piece accompanied by elements of saxophone, lead by a beautiful picturesque spoken word poem.
Every song on this album has a completely different feel to it, while maintaining a singular theme. The song "7" provides a Herbie Hancock like groove that leads us into a calming state of euphoria. If you want a fun upbeat song to dance to, then "Chasing Rainbows" is the one for you! Colorful lyricism paints a picture for your mind to wander through and take you on a journey while the music itself entices you to get up and dance.
We got with Christian Jude to chat about where the ideas for this cohesive yet broad album came from and what the whole experience was like.
FITT: So what inspired the album's name?
Christian: So interestingly enough, the genesis for the entire album was triggered by an image I saw. I think I was Googling blue sky and pink cloud wallpapers and I found this image of a pink cloud that resembled a strawberry. An artist superimposed a silhouette of a hand holding it, and I thought to myself "wow a strawberry cloud, I love that aesthetic!" And from there, the overall aesthetic of the album started taking shape. This laid back, relaxed, introspective feeling is what I picked up from seeing that image and that carried through the songwriting process for the album!
FITT: Everything in this album is wonderful and so easy to sit back and vibe with. Can you go more in depth with the themes that the album explores and why you decided to write some of these songs?
Christian: Once the aesthetic of the album was in my mind, I was able to start putting ideas around it. What eventually started flowing out of me was this idea of honest self expression and self love which really steered the creative process. When I was writing most of these songs, mentally I was in a difficult place battling anxiety, depressive episodes, and an overall feeling of being lost in my life, even in spite of having so many good things going on. This idea really culminated into "When Will It Be My Turn?" which was the first track I finished writing for the album. It's asking "I see all these people finding happiness, finding love, finding their own homes, finding healing, when do I get to have that?" And I think this sort of introspective questioning and discovery permeates all of the songs throughout the album. I guess I really wanted the album to express emotions that would make the listener feel safe-- I think of "I'll Be Me" and "Love Yourself Instead" which are both pieces about self love and my own conclusions that I had to reach on my relationship with myself. "My Heart, My Throat" is this kind of realization about possibly my two biggest virtues--love, and communication/self expression-- and how I feel toward them. Driving the sonic aspect of the album was very much the softer acoustic sounds of the 70s. You can really hear those influences directly in "Roots" and "Chasing Rainbows" with their retro sounding compositions. But I was also trying to strike a very particular sound that I have come to associate with my style. It's somewhere in the realm of Whitney meeting Fleet Foxes meeting Seals and Croft, who are all some of my BIGGEST influences. However, all of this was blended with eastern sounds and motifs, especially with how much I used sitar and percussive elements. Actually, the whole album has a lot of eastern ideas and themes. "My Heart, My Throat" references the chakras, "What Heaven Feels Like" recognizes the present moment as the only thing we really have and that time doesn't necessarily exist. So all of these things came together nicely to give the album its unique flavor!
FITT: What was your recording process like? Where did all this happen? Did you have any help with writing/recording?
Christian: The recording process was grueling, yet really efficient. I had so much stress when I was creating my first album "Trippy Love", but I learned how to be more efficient with the writing, recording, and mixing process because of it. Plus, once I proved to myself that I COULD write an album, making the second one seemed less daunting. I think the biggest thing that helped the process is that I finally came to a place to trust my writing and especially my words. I'm not someone who goes back and feverishly edits lyrics. I trust that the words I wrote down when I was writing a song were the best representation of my feeling at the time, and any attempt to edit it is me trying to change who I was and what I was feeling at that exact moment. Recording probably is my least favorite element of the album making process mostly because you can spend an hour recording one take. Mixing was fairly easy because I use automated mixing plugins and EQs. I'm not even ashamed to say that because I know HOW to do all that stuff, but the automated plugins allow me to make music faster and strike while the iron is hot. Other than that, everything else on the album was done exclusively by me, other than the wonderful violin solo on "When Will It Be My Turn?" To me, that makes the album a true reflection of myself and my ideas and what I hear in MY head. I think from start to finish, I created "Peanut Butter Skies & Strawberry Clouds" in just under 4 months!
FITT: What can we expect from you down the road?
Christian: I am already working on album number three which should hopefully be released before the year is over. I'm looking forward to making a more minimalistic album with the majority of the emphasis on the writing, as well as guitar and vocals. I also have some singles in the works! One thing I REALLY want to do more of is collaborate with other artists-- I love being able to play or sing on someone else's work and add my own flavor to things! I love being part of a team to make something awesome happen! 5. Do you have a favorite track from Peanut Butter Skies and Strawberry Clouds? I would have to put "Love Yourself Instead" as my favorite song tied with "When Will It Be My Turn?" When Will It Be My Turn is the most honest song I have written and I just think the lyrics are on point and communicate the message I was trying to convey in a really efficient way. "Love Yourself Instead" was a huge challenge with the multiple harmonies going on, strings, keyboard... but I was thrilled with the final product and how it just really came together exactly how I envisioned it in my head!
You can listen to this Peanut Butter Skies & Strawberry Clouds here and connect with Christian Jude below.