Nero members Dan
Stephens and Joe Ray have been making music together since 2004. They
recently premiered their “Second Reality” live show with singer
Alana Watson in the United States at Club Nokia in L.A. in between gigs at Coachella Valley
Music Festival. Alana is on all of their
singles and her beautiful voice gives them
more of an electronic band feel as opposed to just a DJ act. Their
custom built DJ booth adds to their show's visual interest, which features
retro TVs, old amps, and an arcade machine center piece.
If you missed
Nero's L.A. show or Coachella set, don't worry — they just announced
their Las Vegas residencies at Surrender and XS as well as a live
show at Hard Summer in August. Currently promoting their Welcome
Reality album, their music continues to push boundaries
and give their fans just the
right amount of guitar riffs to make their music the next generation
of dubstep music. After watching them melt people's faces in the
desert at Coachella, we caught up with Nero to talk about how they
got started in electronic music, what they thought of the festival
and what we can look forward from their live show tour.
OC Weekly: The
two of you come from a very musical background, how did you get
involved with electronic music?
Nero: We both
grew up playing instruments classically, in bands and listening to a
diverse range of music, but it wasn't until we started going out
clubbing around London that we saw and understood the impact that
electronic music had on a crowd. We had both been experimenting with
computer music individually for a while but it was during that period
of time that we began writing electronic music together.
OC Weekly: What
would you say to our readers who still think that DJs and producers
like yourself just “push play” on fancy laptops and computers?[
Nero: Well, I
can't speak for other producers but we personally do a lot of live
playing during our live show. We both have Moog Synthesizers which we
do soloing and jamming on during the show as well playing set
melodies. We also have two keyboards that we trigger samples from and
touch screen interfaces that we use to control Ableton. And then we
have Alana who sings live. It's obviously not “live” in the sense
that a rock band is live, recreating all the sounds then and there,
but no electronic music is ever like that. It's all written on
computers and it would be impossible for just Joe and me to recreate
OC Weekly: How
did you guys meet Alana Watson and what has her contribution to the
group done for your music?
Nero: We've known
Alana for about 11 years now as we went to school in the same area.
We feel that she brings us that band element rather than just being
two producers with loads of different collaborations. It gives our
music continuity. Alana's voice has an airy angelic quality as well
which contrasts nicely with our music.
OC Weekly: Who
are your biggest inspirations musically?
Nero: We both
listen to lots of different genres of music but we draw a lot of
inspiration from French house, '80s disco/boogie, '80s pop and rock
and bands like Phoenix and Friendly Fires. We also pull influences
from '80s Sci-Fi films we love and I think that gives the album that
OC Weekly: Now
that you've toured all over Europe and the United States how did it
feel to play at the famous Coachella Valley Music Festival?
We had a great crowd turn up to see our shows so that was cool. A lot
of people told us after it was one of their highlights and we were
really proud to have gone and done a good job for our fans.
Weekly: What has been your most memorable venue or festival to play?
Glastonbury is always a very special festival for us. It just has a
really individual vibe and is definitely in a league of its own as
far as festivals go.
Weekly: What else is in store for Nero in the upcoming year?
We've currently got the U.S. Tour and then we'll be doing some festival
dates throughout the year in Europe and the U.S. as well as taking some
time out to work on the new album. There's also a few exciting
projects in the pipeline but we can't elaborate just yet!
Weekly: Any new big collaborations? Maybe another epic track with
Nothing planned at the moment although ourselves and Sonny have
talked a lot about getting together in the studio again — but we
don't usually do collaborations as such. We're just very focused on
the direction of the next album.