I can’t remember when exactly I first came across Saint Ludo but I’ve been quietly following her for a few years now. Based in London, the Italian tastemaker co-runs record label Femme Culture alongside Elkka where they aim to champion womxn within the arts through a series of stand-alone releases from the likes of BADSISTA and Ariel Zetina as well as releasing specially curated compilations which aim to raise money for United Nations Women. On these compilations, you will find exclusive tracks from DJ Python, Violet, Yazzus, Nightwave, Mr. Mitch, India Jordan, and Nick Höppner among others. Alongside this, Ludo is a keen collaborator, working on multiple projects at a time with platforms such as Foundation FM where she has a residency, Keep Hush, Boiler Room and most recently Nike who she’s teamed up with to design her own pair of trainers, ‘Can You Hear It’, with her share of revenues going to Kwanda. She’s been supported on BBC Radio 1xtra and earlier this year went on a European tour with Tkay Maidza and Princess Nokia. Her work ethic is so inspiring and her energy seeps through everything she does, from the jokes Quarantinder series launched at the beginning of the lockdown to her high energy DJ sets which span across multiple sounds and styles.
As well as providing a killer mix for our podcast series, we speak to Ludo about life in lockdown – how she’s navigating it and the lesson learned so far -, Femme Culture’s journey, her approach to collaboration and finding your voice and style.
Since launching Femme Culture in 2016, has there been anything you’ve changed in your approach to the label? Or has your journey so far with Femme Culture been how you had originally envisioned it?
Well, the funny thing with the label is that there was never any specific vision or strategy for it. It kinda came from a place of being surrounded by so much talent that we wanted to push it and promote it and proudly release it and everything we’ve done so far comes from that place.
What has your journey been like trying to find your voice and style within the industry and the particular scene you’re involved in?
It’s been tumultuous, to say the least. I’ve always been interested in different genres of music so initially, I thought I had to pick which scene to fit it and which genre to represent.. then with the passing of years I realised that it was all in my head and no one cares about this stuff apart from you as an artist, stuck in your own head and telling yourself unhelpful lies. I started to see that not sitting in one sphere is a sphere in itself!! Everything changed from there.
Have you had any moments of doubt where you questioned what you were doing and if you were supposed to be doing it? This could be in relation to Femme Culture or DJing or previous jobs within the music industry. If so, how did you push past those feelings?
Oh every single day I’m like I should probably be realistic about my life and career and goals and maybe this is just a passion that turned into a job for a couple of years?! That’s what I think about on a daily basis. Now more than ever after COVID especially, as gigs were my main source of income I’m always trying to think of different ways to create revenue in a long term way. And I don’t see it as a distraction, I find the thought of being able to accomplish multiple jobs very inebriating and fulfilling.
I feel like everyone is in this kind of limbo phase at the moment, unsure of how to approach the future or what it would hold for them, has this been hard to adjust to for you?
Of course, as I was saying before the truth is DJs as many others in the live industry found themselves without income and the lack of it makes you feel insecure and unstable. And that’s normal. I’ve been trying to be kind to myself but at the same time be realistic with what my present is like and that my well being, physical, mental and financial comes before anything else. The future is still uncertain but whether it’s music again or something else, I’m sure I can come up with a way to be healthy and happy long term.
Have there been any lessons you’ve learned about yourself and how you would like to approach life going forward since lockdown?
I’ve definitely refocused on my family during lockdown which didn’t get much attention from me before as I was constantly running around just doing things even for the sake of feeling busy. I want to make sure that doesn’t change and that my loved ones know that they’re loved every single day.
From hosting parties, doing radio shows, DJing, running your record label and more, I really admire your work ethic and how you’re able to weave all of these projects into your life but how were/are you keeping on top of it?
It’s all in the organisational skills, I used to manage artists as well and I was scheduling their diaries too. I firmly believe that with an incredibly clear and solid to-do list and a great diary that syncs between laptop and phone then the whole world can be conquered lmao. I can’t believe I actually said all this but I really do love a good list ha.
You’ve collaborated with the Keep Hush crew quite a bit, how did that relationship come about?
The Keep Hush lot are like a family to me now, we met a few years ago when I was working at an indie label and we hired them to do a live stream for us. From then I started going to all the parties and they couldn’t get rid of me. Started djing more often and occasionally hosting until it became a ’thing’ and I started doing the Instagram stories for them coz it made sense I guess. Keep Hush have a very strong and witty tone of voice and we shared that presence on social media so collaborating was almost obvious!
View this post on Instagram
the story behind #CanYouHearIt, the colour palette choice and all them things that make it look like I know my design stuff 💚 random fact – my lookbook inspiration pic aka the red crowd picture is @tkaymaidza & myself on stage performing on tour somewhere I don’t remember 🤝 snapped by @kathryn.farmer as usual a friendly reminder that if u do cop a shoe, my revenues all go to @joinkwanda which is a modern collection pot for Black communities 🌱
You’ve also been teasing a collaboration with Nike, what’s the story behind this? And could you tell us about your connection to the charity you’ve chosen to donate the proceeds to?
I’ve been chosen as one of twenty Guest designers to design a shoe that represents what you do in London. As a person who has built a living through DJing with this shoe, I want to pay homage to club culture and – by default – to Black people. The shoe is called Can You Hear It – and that question is meant to metaphorically tie in the DJ world based essentially on one’s hearing to the every day louder movement of Black Lives Matter. Change needs to happen and we can hear it coming.
The shoe is out now, go check my Instagram to see it in its shiny beauty!!
What is your approach to collaboration in a broader sense? What does it allow you to do?
Collaboration is vital, it’s like learning, it’s a beautiful and practical way to amplify your efforts, broaden your horizons, learn about something you already love or discover something new.
Manifesting is something that’s quite important to you and your journey so far. Is there anything you’re manifesting at the moment?
I have a wall covered in post its, every January I take an afternoon to think about what my goals for the year are and then I write a goal on each post-it and every day I just look at these goals and quietly manifest. Some of them I’ve already achieved which I’m so proud of, like going on tour in Europe and getting a slot on BBC 1xtra, now I need to figure out how to be able to rent a one-bedroom flat by myself lol. Good luck with that to myself.
What do you enjoy listening to when you’re relaxing at home?
70s/80s soul like the Chi Lites and Isaac Hayes and David Ruffin. That stuff makes you feel gooooooooooood.
What is your current obsession?
The cake videos, everything is cake memes, fuck man why is this so funny I’m laughing even at writing this.
You can buy Saint Ludo’s Nike trainers ‘Can You Hear It’ here – available for 7 more days.