South African musician Dope Saint Jude has created a stir overseas with her tracks. She has toured Europe and the US, and recently her song Grrl Like was featured in the trailer for Hailee Steinfeld’s Apple series Dickinson about Emily Dickinson and the trailer for Netflix’s new South African original series, Blood & Water.
Dope Saint Jude is now based in London and has worked with international artists like MIA as well as brands like H&M and Nandos. She has also performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and Afropunk.
We chatted to her about her explosive success and what’s next:
Firstly, how excited were you when you heard that your song was going to be used in the Dickinson trailer?
I was absolutely THRILLED. Of course, it felt validating to know that my music is of the standard where it can be used for an international campaign. It was a great pat on the back.
What inspired you to write Grrl Like?
I had just left Cape Town for London and I was missing my friends back home. The song was written to celebrate the things I love most about them, their badassery.
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Over the moon that my track Grrrl Like (produced by @peteboxstamartin ) is the soundtrack to the Dickinson Trailer, a series about the life of poet Emily Dickinson on Apple TV. As a teenager, Emily Dickinson was quite a huge deal to me, so I am pretty chuffed. S/o to my management @ginger_sounds and publishing team for always being passionate about my music.
You mentioned in your tweet that Emily Dickinson was a big inspiration to you growing up, what about her inspired you?
I was in love with the poem ‘Because I could not stop for death’ as a teenager. That poem encapsulated a lot of my feelings as a teen. I was also just inspired by her defiant character, being a woman poet in a time when that was frowned upon.
Who would you say your biggest musical influences are?
I would have to say, Alanis Morissette, Tracy Chapman, Lauryn Hill, Tupac Shakur, Nicki Minaj and Kanye West
Tell us about your background in the drag king movement in Cape Town?
I had always been involved in the queer scene in Cape Town, so for a short while I was a drag king- I created the first documented drag king troupe in the country. I owe a lot of my success to the queer scene in Cape Town, they taught me about performance and entertainment in a very big way.
Where did the inspiration come from for your stage name, Dope Saint Jude?
My second name is Saint Jude, so I just added the ‘Dope’ in the beginning to make it sound more hip hop.
Do you think the hip hop industry around the world has improved for queer artists?
Yes, definitely. I am excited about artists like Lil Nas X, Kehlani and others who are in the mainstream hip hop space and queer.
If you could collab with one artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
That’s a tough one. I would love to collaborate with 1997 Alanis Morissette.
What do you miss most about South Africa?
I miss my friends, my family and of course the weather. If I could choose, I would stay in SA, but it seems my audience is on the other side of the world.
What is next for you?
I am releasing a few singles in the build-up to my debut album. Look out for it!
Watch the music video for Grrl Like: