Daniel Paul Davis and Christopher Nelson of the progressive trance/house duo Judah were high school besties who lived down the street from each other in Minneapolis. However, it’s difficult for me to think of them as trance artists since many of their productions and mixes have a harder techno sound than what’s usually associated with Anjunabeats. When they discovered EDM in high school, Daniel taught himself to DJ, showed Chris some tricks, and the two quickly picked it up. They played the odd gig here and there in Minneapolis until Daniel moved in with DJ/Producer Andy Moor in London.
After being mentored by Andy and shown the magic of production, Daniel returned stateside to pass his knowledge on to Chris. They quickly gained attention with their remix of London Grammar‘s “Strong” which forced the selection of a name. Having grown up in a religious household, Daniel picked the name Judah after being reminded of the Israeli tribe who’d beat the drums and scream a war cry as they marched into battle.
Dan is also a part of the group Fatum (who recently lost Bill Hamel to suicide), while Chris holds down a software engineering job with Dow Jones. Needless to say, these are two busy gents! I had the pleasure of chatting with these guys on Friday night and heard some of their hard-hitting tech trance beats at the All In Tour at Whiskey Bar in Portland. Their responses on their recent focus on mental health moved them firmly into #ManCrushMonday status.
FMF: In the
Judah: It was so long ago now, we don’t really remember! Jimbo is just such a good guy and
Which of your tracks so far would you consider to be most like the “battle cry” you’d imagine of the tribe of Judah?
“Zero Day” for sure! Always goes over so well.
I know you don’t like to be pigeon-holed as trance, which is great! I also hate trying to put things in boxes. Unlike most trance, your recent Anjunabeats Worldwide 598 mix has
Yes 100%. We both enjoy such a broad range of musical styles and we enjoy incorporating them all into our live sets. We also feel that our shows should be a journey, and not just slam you in the face with a specific style of music.
Since the two of you have been friends since 16 years old, how would you describe your friendship?
Brothers. We trust each other implicitly both musically and in life. We don’t live in the same state anymore, but when we go on tour it’s like getting to spend time with family.
As we’ve seen with the dissolution of many musical groups, it seems like so much time together under a lot of stress, especially traveling, can break people apart. Would you say that being friends first, and a music duo second helps in this aspect?
That definitely helps. We compromise with each other too, in the studio and on the road for our gigs. It helps too that we have a very similar taste and style of music that we like.
You’ve mentioned that fans have thanked you for tracks that helped them get through a break up or even prevented them from committing suicide. With the loss of Tim Bergling/Avicii, Fatum’s Bill Hamel last year, and now Keith Flint of The Prodigy this year, has your awareness of mental health in the music industry increased?
Most definitely. Working in this industry can certainly take a toll, which is why we are constantly surrounding ourselves with close ones who lift us up. We have also taken steps in a proactive manner to combat any type of mental issues by seeing a counselor and continuously leaning on our friends and family. Just like physical health, mental health is something that can be trained in a positive manner to help increase overall sustainability and quality of life.
How did those losses affect you? And how do you care for your own mental health when you’re working regular jobs and then turn around and spend much of your free time traveling?
It was really hard. Very hard. The hardest part was to believe that this really happened, and does happen. It’s sad to think that someone who meant so much to others could be so unhappy themselves. It makes you reflect a lot, and allows you to assess your own strengths and flaws. It also shows you what is important and how you can feed energy into the things that not only make you happy, but also help others, which then is helping yourself. Once you realise that you have to take care of yourself as well, and that you are useless to others if you aren’t healthy yourself… then you can start (in a very healthy unselfish way) prioritizing you and your own needs. It’s a beautiful thing when you discover that.
Some lighter questions to get to know Dan and Chris, rather than just Judah:
What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?
(Chris) : It involved a paintball gun and a moving car…
(Dan) : Talking. Haha!
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
(Chris) : When someone doesn’t recycle something due to laziness.
(Dan) : People texing me “K.”
Which temptation do you try the hardest to resist?
(Chris) : Smoking cigarettes.
(Dan) : Sweets.
What’s your favorite quotation?
(Dan) : “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs
(Chris): “I’m not superstitious but I am a little stitious”. – Michael Scott
If you could do something dangerous just once with no risk, what would you do?
(Chris) : Go to Mars.
(Dan) : Skydive. Or climb Everest.
If you haven’t had the chance to check these guys out, hopefully you’ll get to dance to their tech trance beats in a city near you soon! As someone who struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation in the past, and who now works in the mental health field with kids, these guys’ responses warmed my heart. THANK YOU Judah for the fun interview and your words on the importance of mental health care. You’ve both firmly scored a place in our #ManCrushMonday spotlight!
*Featured Image of Judah Via Artist FB Page*