On-the-Radar: Judah
by Annette Lucero


Consistent work ethic and an unwavering patience have finally begun to pave the way for Daniel Davis and Christopher Nelson. Begrudging walls and industry eyes have got to hand it to them- Judah can produce. In the months since SIMshows last sat down with Judah, Christopher Nelson and Daniel Davis have begun revealing the projects they’ve hidden away. They’ve done seamless podcasts for the likes of Anjunabeats, Silk Royal, and Jaytech; collaborations with the likes of Kevin Wild, Boom Jinx, and Fatum. Local pride mixed in with a cut-throat hunger for quality production has yielded masterpieces- and right in our own backyard. We’ve got to hand it to Judah; they’re holding their own in the shark tank.

Judah’s latest Anjunabeats podcast

SIM: Your personal story stretches pretty far back; you both grew up as neighbors basically [and] looking back, it’s safe to say you got into electronic music around the same time. So, what stopped Judah from coming together earlier?
Chris: I went to school [at] Iowa State, and Daniel went to school at the University of Minnesota. Daniel went out to England in my last two years of school [and] by the time I got done with school in 2012, he was just getting back.
SIM: What made you two take producing seriously? Was there someone you had watched progress? I know Daniel managed a few artists, and was networking pretty heavily abroad.
Daniel: [In regards to] Chris and I, he was done with school, and I was ready to take music on full time.
SIM: What came down to the name? Is there a story behind that?
Daniel: The name is a Hebrew word and a lot of people think in biblical terms when they think of [Judah]. And I did get it from a biblical reference; it means “praise” and “thanksgiving” and that’s kind of what we want, when I at least thought of it. Chris isn’t really religious, I’m more on the religious side, and it was something like, “Oh, this is really cool”. The meaning literally is, “having a good time” and being thankful. When I brought it to Chris, I was like, you know, he’s probably gonna shoot it down, “Well what about Judah, it’s pretty cool”, and he was like, ‘Dude I love it’. For both of us to have totally different religious backgrounds, I felt like that was supposed to be [it] if he thought [the name] was cool.
SIM: And how long did [your] first track take to produce?
Chris: [This Moment] took about a year, from start to finish. Like forty different versions. It’s like anything that’s your first. You don’t know when you’re done. That’s the hardest part that we’ve learned working on music; you could never really be done, unless you force yourself to be done. You could work on something forever and never be happy with it until you finally just draw a line and say, “That’s it, done. We’re moving on”. And with that track, we didn’t know how to draw that line, so we were constantly making changes.

Daniel: It took about twelve to fifteen months, and it wasn’t because the track was so difficult, it was because we didn’t really know a style we wanted to do. We were teaching each other how to [create] what we wanted to make. After hearing something [for so long] you become desensitized to [your work]. It all came together towards the end when we found our vocalist, Kailin, in 2013. We knew we wanted to write something for Andy Moor’s compilation series.

SIM: If you have been working on a track for so long, and then try to pick a vocalist for it, how do you decide if someone fits the production? The process sounds as if it could be a bit intimidating to a producer.
Daniel: Yeah, luckily enough we were working with someone from [Minneapolis]. [At the time] I had only worked with one other vocalist in England with Andy Moor; he had said I’d done a good job, so I only did [with Kailin] what I had done before. [The process] can be a bit scary. The hardest part [before] was we didn’t know what we’d wanted, so we didn’t release anything. We didn’t know what [worked stylistically], we didn’t know what people were expecting, we didn’t know what worked in the club; we had no idea. We had [Kailin] come over, and she was patient with us. She’s naturally very talented; she has a classically trained ear.
SIM: Looking forward, I know you have [a few] originals underway; is remixing tracks helping you pave the way for your name while you work on your originals?
Daniel: [In our remixed tracks], 80% to 90% of what you hear is what we’ve re-created ourselves. We don’t necessarily want to ride coat trails, or try to take out somebody’s fame, or be famous because of someone else. We just picked tracks that weren’t being used in dance music and that we thought were beautiful. We thought [these tracks] should be used in dance music. The whole [track]-remixing thing came out of nowhere, really.

SIM: What’s next for you guys? Are there any songs you are currently working on, any artists you’d like to work with, or maybe another song you’d like to remix?
Chris: When we watched our [Clean Bandit remix] play on Group Therapy, we watched the comments people were posting: “Judah originals?”, “Do you have any Judah originals?”, and such. Labels look for getting an original tune out there that is different.
Daniel: I think this next year we are going to work more on original stuff. We’ve gotten our name out to the point where people know we’re good producers and people know we’ll have a good sound. They know we’re good DJs, but they’re waiting to see something completely original out of us. 2015 has been a growing year for [Judah], where our sound has evolved into something more personal. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs with different labels, but it’s been for the best; it’s driven [Chris and I] to create what we want rather than what [people have expected] out of us. It was a hard lesson to learn, but the reward [has been] very liberating. Our [current] sound is moving more towards a groovier and melodic style, stepping away from the industry’s standard, trance-type sound; more of an Eric Prydz / Pryda type-feel. Our latest remix of Above & Beyond feat. Gemma Hayes – Counting Down The Days showcases this pretty well.

SIM: And when are you looking to release some new tracks? Is there a time frame?
Daniel: We are in the final stage of finishing up two new originals for Myon & Shane 54’s RIDE Recordings. One is a vocal single, and another is a collaboration with Fatum (a DJ Duo group on Anjunabeats). We had a great response from the collaboration EP we did with Kevin Wild this past summer, so we’re excited to showcase some new content via the RIDE label again; you’ll see a few releases within the next few months. [As for the] long term, we are looking at making more original content, and exploring our sound further.

SIM: Is there anything else you’d like to pass along?
Daniel: We want to represent Minneapolis in a good light, you know. We cherish the fact that we are from here; we’re not looking to go L.A., or New York, or Chicago, or be bigger stars. We don’t need to do that; we do this from where we’re at and we’re invested in this place. I think that people like JT and SIM- as well as the other DJs that have come out of [Minneapolis] – are invested in this scene. We want to be a part of [expanding the scene] for the future. Hopefully we’ll represent Minneapolis the right way in what we do [down the road].

Judah’s well on their way to carving a niche for themselves in trance; their momentum is on the radar. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to hear an upcoming breath of fresh air; buy your tickets here.

Interviewed and Written by Annette Lucero