Bringing Sexy Back – An interview with Sex Judas

Sex Judas is a burly black man and he speaks in a low drawl. Raised on a combination of Bourbon and Blues, he has something of a hippy philosophy in the way that he talks and I imagine him wearing a caftan when he’s home alone… Or at least, this is the first impression I get when I interview his inventor, a man that appears to epitomise the absolute contrast of the character he has created. “The whole project is based on a comic character while I remain anonymous. I see Sex Judas as a sexually active hippy, like a freak brothers cartoon.

I imagine this stranger, who I meet in a fairly quiet Norwegian bar in Olso, has more in common with the his other creation Ricky, frequent collaborator and friend of Sex Judas. “He is Sex Judas’ partner. He’s his best friend and also a sidekick. If you listen to the records; the high-pitched voice is Ricky while Judas sits in the lower registers.“ It’s this type of disparity that seems to be the general overtone of the Sex Judas project, which even becomes evident in the name when we delve further into our conversation. “I like the contrast between Sex and Judas. Judas struck me as a very interesting character and I like things that are a little bit provocative. I’ve always liked the bad guys and Judas is probably the most judged guy in history. It was fun to liberate his character.” The project probes familiar religious territory and along with the sexual element, hits upon common themes in popular music. But, before we could get caught up in sex and religion, the conversation gets steered back towards music by the enigmatic character of Sex Judas and his musical influences; Everything from very rootsy blues music to Dr John to Stax records. I like a lot of those deep groovy Memphis sounds with their elongated parts. The songs just go on and on and, in some sublime way, they try to express a feeling or an emotional state.” These influences feed into Sex Judas’ music in a very approachable dance format, with everything from Disco to Krautrock thrown into the mix. “My ambition is to tie the project together with Ricky and Sex Judas’ vocals, while I explore different styles of dance music.“ It’s the rootsy blues stuff that holds it all together according to the man pulling the strings, and developed from a need for escapism for Sex Judas’ Norwegian counterpart. I’m into black American music and it was my intention to get away with singing in this style. There’s a great distance between Norway and America; hiding behind this character, was the only way for me to do this.” It also offered a break for its creator to move out of the paradigm of another act he has been involved in – and remains a prominent part of – for some time. “I play in this other group as well, so Sex Judas is my free space to explore the studio and experiment. I’m searching for something new. Once you have a project that’s up and running and has defined its own sound, there are certain limitations to the way you can go and what is left to discover in the studio. I wanted to free myself a little more with Sex Judas.“ (Coincidently, I learned that this original project started out life as a death metal act before it moved into dance music, but I’ll leave that for another conversation.)

Sex Judas combines two disparate worlds in this process, re-assuring the underlying contrasts he perpetuates from the start. The American soulful aspect is bordered with a Euro-centric dance attribute. It brings together the improvised characteristics of blues and jazz in a predominantly house arrangement, similar to what was achieved on those early electronic records out of Chicago and Detroit. The result has been two instantly gratifying releases on Tim Paris’ Marketing Music label and a visually stimulating aspect that accompanies each release. Sex Judas goes on to share his love of vinyl later in the conversation and I agree that the aesthetic accompaniment, which he intends to develop on future releases, suits the larger format quite well. “There is another one coming out on (Paris’) label and I also delivered tracks to an Oslo label starting up. Club Jaeger has started a label and they are going to release an EP.”

As I listen intently at the future of Sex Judas, the quiet bar erupts in an altercation between two waiters. The subject of the argument is indistinguishable, but the barman quickly subdues the pair, as he makes them aware of the fact that there are still guests in the vacuous bar. This is not the first time I’ve delved into Oslo’s small, but defined music scene. After a six-year absence, not much has changed with many of the same parties and DJ’s still occupying the major part of the scene, and although Sex Judas’ character is fairly new, his creator is one of these established artists. The lack of Norwegian acts breaking through to the rest of Europe at the moment is quite startling when you consider how prosperous the scene is, but this is something that Sex Judas’ creator has a fair amount more experience with. I don’t find it too hard to tap into the rest of Europe. You have to have that drive. The ones that don’t break through are content with being here or lack the motivation.“ The labels too have been caught in this archetype and apart from Prins Thomas’ Full Pupp, most have only come about as a way to release artists like Todd Terje and Lindstrøm’s own material. “It’s a bit strange; Norwegians are not that great at organizing this type of thing, but it is because of the size.“ That makes it all the much more exciting that a new label is on the rise. “The disco community is always on the side-line from the club scene. They are just a gang of friends. Jaeger will be the first label to come from the other side of the scene.” It appears that the Space Disco sound that’s prevailed in the past, is being surpassed by this ‘other’ side of the electronic music scene in the Norwegian capital. “The Oslo Scene is very nice and there is a big love for the music. There’s a big appreciation here for house and Disco, but Oslo is mostly about house music now.”

It is good to see Sex Judas amongst this new assault heading the charge in Norway, and when I ask him at the end of the interview if there’s anything he’d like to add, a concentrated pondering tells me there’s an important part of the music I missed out on. Although he sits comfortably along side any designation in dance music, Sex Judas’ objective is to bring the sexy back into Norwegian electronic music. “I felt a lack sexual music in the Norwegian music environment. I wanted to bring this back. An important part of the character is that he’s a bit nasty, a bit jolly with a sexually liberal thing running through it. I love this sexual atmosphere in music. It’s human and its very real and its based on instinct.” The live show incorporates this philosophy and instinct too and plans are in place to expand the band to more than just the Sex Judas character. “I want to make it a trio or quintet. It’s all just a bit new, so I’m just trying to find the right people to play with. I want a band full of characters.” Sex Judas also looks set to work on some “disco-ish” material on another future release while his creator continuously ventures into unfamiliar territory through the character and his host of compatriots.

Tonight Sex Judas is put aside however, as his inventor is expected behind a DJ booth shortly after the interview, even if his relaxed manner suggest otherwise. It’s the only time during the interview I can comfortably link the character of Sex Judas to his creator. It will only be a short set with closing times being very strict in Oslo. “This is just alcohol politics in Norway, but it certainly changes the music. You have to do more in a shorter time. You can’t stretch out your sets.” I bid him farewell, outside the sparsely populated bar into an even emptier street, and am reminded by a cheer in a neighbouring sports bar, that the world cup is in full swing tonight. I can’t envision Sex Judas as a fan of the sport. I’d rather imagine Sex Judas in a caftan, pouring over some records with Bourbon and a tune on his breath.

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