Jude Icarus


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About Jude Icarus

I used to play a game.

Give me any three consecutive words from any Beatles song, and I could tell you the title, album, track number, and principal songwriter. I was 6 years old with a mop-top haircut and a violin.

I wasn’t interested then in the etudes and minuets I was playing. Hell, the first time I squeaked out ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ I was standing in front of an art festival crowd next to hip hop violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR). No long-dead, powdered wig requiem could compete with that vibrant, dreadlocked high. Not for a kid who worshipped at the altar of Ziggy Stardust. “There’s a Starman waiting in the sky. Amen.”

I pored over the lyrics of Lennon, Bowie, Elvis Costello, my sacred texts, rediscovering and relearning language as a picket sign, a paintbrush, a scalpel. This study wasn’t limited to music, though – visual art, film, literature, and comic books were all part of the curriculum. Basquiat and “Winged Victory” by day, the Marx Brothers by night. Read Amazing Spiderman and The Phantom Tollbooth for Monday. But faith without works is dead, so all that wordplay and imagery and mythology had to be put to use. In kindergarten, I wrote and illustrated (though “illustrated” may be too generous a term) a book of alliterations from A to Z. In second grade, I composed a piece for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under DBR’s tutelage. I titled it “Hephaestus” after the Greek god of the forge who was cast down to Earth for his deformity. That same year, I began to write poetry, finding it the perfect medium for my linguistic explorations and flights of verbal fancy. In my time off, I busked in front of Lincoln Center, packed up gear for Philip Glass, and drew superheroes of my own imagining.

By the time I started writing my own songs in fifth grade – indie ballads about conformity, plastic surgery, wealth inequality, isolation ­– it was clear that violin, especially within its classical confines, was insufficient to fulfill my rockstar ambitions. I left my youth symphony to study klezmer and improvisation, a rebellion and revelation, respectively, but it wasn’t until I picked up an electric guitar the following year that the floodgates truly opened. Onstage, I could commune with my heroes, no longer just an observer but a vessel. Clad in platform heels, leather bodysuits, bell-bottoms, makeup, wigs, outrageous jewelry, I was Jimi Hendrix, Robert Smith, Jimmy Page, Anthony Kiedis, and, of course, David Bowie. And as I channeled their voices, their visions of the world, I began to develop my own.

Weekly trips to volunteer at food banks and community centers as a child had left their mark, and even as I sang songs of peace and love, I became increasingly aware of the strife and struggles of those around me, that the world of “Imagine” was still very much imagined. Urged by my idols and my conscience to make a difference but unable to conceive of a means without wealth or influence, I turned to the power of the people. At 13, I founded the Archimedes Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to democratizing philanthropy by encouraging people to give $2. Using this crowdsourcing model, the Alliance was able to raise over $45,000 to combat the cycle of global poverty.

Around the same time, my interest in hip hop began to truly blossom. Though I had long been a purveyor of the gospels of Kanye West, Eminem, and Talib Kweli, my twin passions for language and social justice were ignited in unison by the raised-fist poetry of Tupac Shakur.

About Cloud 9

Cloud 9 as an album is an eclectic, maximalist celebration of self-expression, individuality, language, music, and social agency. Drawing from influences spanning countless decades and genres, the album is tied together by its desire to do – and be – everything. From the orchestral bombast and swaggering introduction of “Veni Vidi Vici” to the earnest gospel ecstasy of the title track, Cloud 9 weaves together a thematic and musical narrative punctuated by moments of soulful introspection (“Me And The Music,” “Try”), blistering pyrotechnics (“Let It Go,” “Killin’ Me”), and anthemic idealism (“Rise,” “Dreamchaser”). This coalescence of genres and styles reaches its apex on the appropriately raucous “Riot,” a supercharged romp powered by ‘80s funk, soaring arena rock, and thoroughly modern hip hop.Personal, meaningful, ambitious, fun, and uncompromisingly unique, Cloud 9 presents an open invitation to dance or march towards a life and a world in which difference is celebrated and everyone – from classic rockers to funk maestros to experimental luminaries – is welcome.