Though he is only ten years old, Aiden Jude talks about the moment he knew he wanted to be a DJ with the same starry-eyed wonder artists three times his age do.
“In the beginning of 2012, when I was 8, I first heard ‘Calling’ by Alesso and Sebastian Ingrosso and I was like ‘whoa, what is this,’” Jude explains in an after-school phone call to THUMP. “I kept playing it and researched more about it and I was like, I know what I want to do.”
On April 14, Jude released his debut single, “Tonight,” through indie dance label Shap Records as a Beatport exclusive. Like many other EDM tracks in 2014, “Tonight” relies on a simple melodic hook, an emotive topline and a drop that leads to an instrumental chorus. Also like many other EDM tracks in 2014, “Tonight” and its producer have been the target of a flurry of internet hate. In comments on SoundCloud and other social platforms, Jude has become a target for those convinced that he is not actually the creator of his music. Some of this chatter has even been picked up by a handful of usually credible music blogs, seeming to validate the accusations that Jude didn’t produce the track.
“A lot of bloggers and people are thinking that the song was completely ghost-produced. That is not true at all,” Jude tells us in response to those claims. “I’m reading it and I’m like, why do people think this? It’s not true.”
The production process for “Tonight” was a team effort similar to that of many other vocal house tracks. Jude says he began working on the song in his bedroom last November. Under the guidance of his uncle, New York DJ and Shap Records artist Coleman, “Tonight” was sent to a vocalist, Nafsica, and later producer Max Morine for vocal production. Shap introduced Jude to a producer named Shintaro Yasuda who helped finish the record.
“I was told to send it to someone in Colorado who added some elements but I never ended up using those,” Jude says, alluding to potential detractor.
While Jude says he is happy to have made this much “noise” with his first single, he’s been caught off guard by the conversation around it. “It doesn’t really hurt my feelings,” he says, nonchalantly. “I thought there were going to be some haters but I was a little surprised about some of the articles that were written.”
Jude’s mother, Lauren Shapiro, says her son is not completely aware of what is being said either. “We’re on the blogs and we see what’s going on,” she explains. “Aiden doesn’t know everything that’s going on and he shouldn’t, that’s not his job. It’s our job to protect him and his job is to have fun and do the music.”
While Shapiro describes her family as somewhat atypical, there was no explicit encouragement of Jude’s DJing career at home until he started playing with GarageBand.
“Two years ago we didn’t even know he was into music like this,” she admits. “He was playing video games and watching TV; it wasn’t even on our radar. As he started to really get that bug, that’s when he came to us and said ‘I’m really into this music, can I get a DJ system?’ It was really something that he drove. We were giving him the tools. That’s still the way we look at it. He said, 'I want to be on that stage like those guys.' He’s been talking about that for two years.”
While two years is a blip in the lifetime of a twenty-something, at age 10, it’s substantial. Other artists famously started their careers as teens – Madeon, Cole Plante, Porter Robinson and Martin Garrix among them – Jude may be the first to release a debut single with his name on it and support from a team that already includes a label, manager and publicist, perhaps fostering some cynicism within the dance music media.
Still, it’s Jude’s parents who are in charge. As Shapiro concedes that parenting a child entering into the world of DJing isn’t a well-tread path to be on, she and her husband, Jude’s father Eddie Shapiro, are adamant about supporting their son’s musical ambition.
“Hopefully we are making all the right decisions for him and if we do make a mistake, we talk about it as a family and we fix it,” she says. “We don’t look at this as being different from anything else we do on a daily basis with our kids.”
For now, Jude is an outlier in the world of EDM for his age but also among his friend group, where he says he is the only one interested in dance music. (“They all kind of get it. They’re like, yeah, it’s cool.”) While “Tonight” is just his first record, Jude is clear there will be more to come, telling us: “I’m hoping this is going to be my career for a while.”