In theory, I ought to find it easier to write about Judith than any of the other Front Page News characters I’ve had the fun of talking with. I’ve talked to drummers, guitar players, bass players, producers of the techy side of sound and video. I’ve talked to a brew master. I’ve talked to a multi-talented world traveler. I admire all of them, but I will never quite get into their headspace. Even though they’re all creatives, they’re just enough The Other that I write about them as a witness to their cool superpower without quite getting where they’re coming from.
Judith’s a little different. I’m not her—she’s not me. But the way she’s a storyteller reminds me of the way I’m a storyteller—her choices and hang-ups and reasons.
Should be easy to write about. It is, to some degree. It just feels like making assumptions for some reason.
Judith tells stories with her songs. Sometimes the stories are about feelings, made to give the feelings something to live in so that listeners like you and me get to feel them too. Sometimes the stories are about the people she knows and the feelings those people radiate into the world. Sometimes the stories are about pirates and how they feel. Like any great storyteller, she gets the fundamental truth: stories are feelings sculpted into memories you haven’t remembered yet.
Judith comes from everywhere. Her family is from all over the world. She has Irish, Spanish, Russian, German, Japanese among her immediate relatives. “Musical household” describes the circumstances of her upbringing. She says that she remembers her dad was always singing, and she says she started writing songs in her early teens.
She did me the courtesy of dividing the eras of her songwriting for me, which would be convenient if I were an art historian, trying to figure out her Blue Period or whatever. As is, it helps to frame this narrative. So here goes:
Early days, Judith’s songs tended to be moody. They were, she suggests, possibly some of the more honest songs she wrote. They lacked as many filters, and she gave herself over to the rawness of the feelings. She almost always wrote in the third person—she, it, they, etc.—and her songs had a narrative element. She narrated the stories of characters inhabiting the feelings under scrutiny.
Later on, Judith thinks it’s possible that her songwriting advanced in a technical sense. She says that the songs of more recent years might have less rawness, less of a direct current from her mood into the words. She says she writes more in the first person recently, though, turning . The songwriting might, she alleges, have matured. She has been inhabiting her songs as a narrator of feeling as herself.
The point, ultimately, is the feelings. Judith’s songs are about feelings.
Feelings are sort of like gold and silver and gems if she were a jeweler, perhaps. She takes feelings and refines them, heats them, shapes them, uses her tools and skills on them, and then gives them a pretty shape so that the rest of us can maybe feel them too.
Ask her for music recommendations. She’s a genre-eschewing singer-songwriter herself, plays guitar, plays piano, and writes the kinds of songs that “probably could be movies” (she says it, and I believe it). What she listens to surprised me. And it may surprise you too.
I asked Judith—because it’s the question people always ask me—how she decided to write. What was the thing that inspired this part of you to come to life? Surely there was some inspirational person or event that switched it on. Why are you this way? I asked her.
Essentially, and in the kindest possible way, she said, "I just am."
She’s one of these people that’s just tuned in. Into what? Feelings—moodscapes—attitudes—character—personality. Everything that guides the flow of how we live but that we don’t always give a lot of thought to. That’s what she takes in, and her output is feelings turned into jewelry.
Ed. Note: Judith is Act of of 3 Concerts in 1 Night 27 February 2021. €17 is a ticket from 6 to 9:30 pm. Three Musicians sing their hearts out, and vj baby k does live visuals. Seats are very limited. There will be zero tickets sold at the door.