Danja Tells All: The Stories Behind His Biggest Hits

Nelly Furtado “Maneater” (2006)


Label: Geffen/Mosley Music

Danja: “For Nelly [we might have had some leftover songs], but we used most of what we recorded. With ‘Maneater,’ we had a record going. I came in and dropped some drums down and the idea for ‘Maneater.’

“In general, we’d be working on ideas before Nelly got there and she would jump right in. She was opened minded, Justin was open minded too. You got to be an open-minded person, you got to be willing to accept what we’re doing in the studio, and not be scared. You just add your own thing and make it a hit. It just so happen we were making incredible music at the same time. When you have an amazing track, an amazing melody and lyrics, and a superstar artist such as Justin or Nelly, you’re gonna get what happened in 2006.”



Nelly Furtado “Say It Right” (2006)


Label: Geffen/Mosley Music

Danja: “For ‘Say It Right,’ everyone was in a room together and Nelly had a mic, Tim had drums, I’m playing chords. It was a tiny room and we did all of the records in there. Nelly would write down dummy vocals and then she would write out the lyrics while she was in the booth. She’ll write some stuff down and sing it, that’s how that one went.

“We weren’t even sure of the direction [of the album] at that point. I was just tossing ideas. Tim is a well more versed as a producer so he knew what he was doing. I’m sure Tim had a divine plan on how he wanted album to be. It was a smart thing to incorporate some of the old, classic Nelly Furtado with the new that we brought. It was the perfect blend. Everybody was happy: She gained new fans, her old fans saw her in an new light, and it worked perfectly for her.

“[She became a bigger star] just doing the uptempos and club-type records. I didn’t know any of that would work in the club but it did. With those projects, it was straight energy, there wasn’t a lot of thought put into it. I could say, ‘Okay, we might have been thinking of making it this was.’ But no I don’t think we thought about too much of anything, it was just good energy, good creative juices, and good chemistry flowing.

“We were all super excited. We knew we were doing something different. It’s was up to the powers that be, the executives, to identify the hits and the singles. That’s how the process went but we didn’t really think about it. We were just having fun. But we were working at all times of the night. I would go in as early as possible, sometimes 5 o’clock. We would go until 8 in the morning. We were dedicated to the studio.”



Nelly Furtado “Promiscuous” (2006)


Label: Geffen/Mosley Music

Danja: “We worked on Nelly Furtado’s album first and then during the mixing process for that, Justin came in and started his project. So we did those back to back. We jumped right into Justin’s in Virginia and while we were finishing his project, we jumped into Shock Valueand finished that. We would start an album and during the mix of one album, start another album as the singles from the previous album rolled out.

“Tim had a working relationship with Nelly Furtado for years, she did remixes [with Missy and songs with Ms. Jade]. She was on Interscope as an artist and his label was there. It was a natural progression of artists being on the same label and Jimmy Iovine giving him the opportunity to produce that next album. That whole thing was made in Miami and mixed in Virginia. It took at least three months.

“I was in the studio [the whole time]. [Laughs.] I didn’t have time for the clubs. If anything, I was at a strip club. [Laughs.] I was in the studio knocking things out, [Tim] might go out and catch a vibe and come back. His studio was down in Virginia and he decided to go to Virginia to mix and start Justin’s album there.

“I had a beat playing. Tim walked in and said what came to him. he started doing the hook and added some drums. A lot of stuff we would start together, some he would start on his own and some I would start on my own. Then we’d come together and finalize it.

“The funny thing about ‘Promiscuous’ is he had that record done before we started on Nelly, though he might have had her in mind for it when we made it. I don’t remember if she was 100 percent feeling it or not. It was one of those, ‘I like it but we’re still getting ideas out.’ In the end, that was the last song we completed for the album. It ended up being the biggest song on the album.”