Wasel Arar, bluegrass guitarist and singer since the early 1980's, was a founding member of the Picks & Hammers bluegrass band starting out in 1994 with Jussi Matikainen on banjo and Hannu Vanhatalo on upright bass, both were original members of Jussi Syrens Lake Country Boys bluegrass band that had broken up several years earlier. Together they built up a mean trio sound with lead and tenor vocals backed with hard driving banjo, guitar and bass. Later Jonni Kuutsa joined the band on mandolin turning it into a four piece bluegrass setup. Meanwhile Jyrki Levä had become banjo player with Jussi Syren's new band The Groundbreakers.

After the Picks & Hammers, Arar and Kuutsa got together with American hot banjo player Ed Brauchli, who was a four state banjo champion in his teens. This brought these two more traditionally oriented musicians more into modern and contemporary bluegrass á la Bluegrass Sessions etc. which they both enjoyed but had never gotten into before. They brought in Jyrki Levä on electric bass and Kukka Lehto on fiddle and so the Ed Brauchli Band was formed concentrating mainly on instrumental Bluegrass focused around Ed's hard driving banjo style. This group had the opportunity to perform together for more than year at several festivals before Ed moved abroad. The band was forced to reform their line up with banjo player Jukka Buddas and a name change was naturally predictable.

Searching for an identity after having lost a band member and a major driving force the band quickly fell on their feet. Arar and Kuutsa took to writing their own original tunes which were quickly complemented with tunes by Levä and Buddas - enough to fill the repertoire with their own compositions. The name Northstate was chosen to represent the inevitable fusion of Finnish/Scandinavian influence with the bluegrass tradition the band strongly respects.