J.u.D. breaks Igloofest ice this Sunday

The Montreal producer is making waves on the local beat scene with dreamy, downtempo, spiritual funk.

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At 24, Alaiz-affililiated Laval-raised instrumental producer J.u.D. (born Judrick Saint-Fleur) isn’t just making waves on the local beat scene right now, but bending them into new and exciting shapes and permutations of dreamy, downtempo, spiritual funk. His newest EP, St. Flower, has received little more than unabashed praise since its late 2014 release.

A graphic designer by trade (he designs all of his own cover art), he begins a new day job Monday morning. But first he’ll open up the main stage at Igloofest this Sunday as Osheaga pairs the upcomer with TO crowd favorites Keys N Krates and Montreal electronic music forefather Tiga.

I caught up with J.u.D. this past Wednesday by phone to pick his brain about the sensibilities displayed on his latest, an authentic sleeper hit.

Darcy MacDonald: Your EP is titled St. Flower, a spin on your given name. What sparked that creative decision?

J.u.D.: It was mostly that the first name I had didn’t fit well with the songs on the album. I had a title and I had the cover, but when I was finished production I thought it was a bit too chill, very wavy and dreamy. So I scratched the name I had and went with something a lot more spiritual. I decided to invent a new saint.

DM: I read you wanted to move toward a cinematic approach. People call it “dreamy” but as the EP progresses it almost becomes paced like a soundtrack to a story. But it’s hard not to become reptitive with that pace. How did you arrange these seven tracks?

J.u.D.: At first my goal was to have 10 songs, each at around four minutes. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to finish some, and in some cases that they just wouldn’t fit the mood of the rest. After that, I just put the songs that made it on iTunes, hit shuffle, and listened until I heard an order that worked for me. I knew I wanted to finish with “Magdala” and begin with “Iris.” I changed the pitch on certain tracks to get them to fit more closely. I’ve always wanted to make film music so it was a way to get my foot in the door.

DM: The sensibility of mixing a house element with the cinematic vibe you created, and the trap influence — how did you contain that?

J.u.D.: I think it’s all in the rhythm and the emotion. I also noticed at some point that what I was making was quite sad, in quotes. I didn’t want to break that vibe. And I wanted to tell a story. I really want the listener to be able to have a voyage with this album, and bring you to a place.

It was also a major goal to have live instruments on the album, like the live guitar. And I don’t play the guitar, so that was a challege. So it really became a question of directing the project in that sense, where I had to be able to guide the players, be it strings or vocals, on how to play it, while not actually being able to do it myself. It was a challenge to compose that way.

DM: You nailed it. What other live aspects are on there?

J.u.D.: Well, there are drums, but I did that all on a computer. I contacted a guy to do it live, but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t get the sound I wanted and he was kind of young and wanting to show off a bit. (laughs)

DM: I was wondering, actually, if some of the drums were live. Do you have any experience with a kit?

J.u.D.: Not really — a little, but I’m not a drummer. My live rhythm is really different. What I did though was take sampled drum breaks and programmed more drums on top of those. Otherwise it would have been too simplistic, too squared.

DM: I really appreciate how subtly you bring in all these elements you borrow from. I can tell you have a real understanding of all the genres you are experimenting with.

J.u.D.:  Well, I think it’s that I really listen to a lot of different genres of music, but also I go through phases. St.Flower was made during a phase where I was listening to a ton of house, and a ton of trap, and nothing but, all the time. Now I’m more shifted to house and more electronic. So the result there is a mix what is influencing me immediately around me and what my own goals are.

DM: You have an interesting way of doing that, of bringing influences in and out without trying to hammer the listener over the head with it.

J.u.D.: I noticed that by doing DJ sets I learned more about to make a musical transition between genres and styles. I think that has really informed my career as a beat maker.

DM: When did you start spinning?

J.u.D.: Well, all the beatmakers in Alaiz spin, so I got on it! It was around the end of 2012.

DM: So Sunday is a big one, playing with Tiga! How you feelin’?

J.u.D.: I’m so excited. As soon as I got the call, I knew exactly what I was going to prepare for it (laughs). My own music is kinda melancholic, so I will be playing a lot more deep house and EDM and trap in my set.


J.u.D. spins alongside Keys N Krates and Tiga on the Sapporo stage at Igloofest (Jacques Cartier Pier) on Sunday, Feb. 1, 6 p.m., $20/$25