10 Questions with ... Nicky Romero
October 20, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1) What part of Holland or Amsterdam are you from?
I'm from the center. This is a mix of city life and still a little bit country. I'm a mix of everything. I want to live close to Amsterdam but not in Amsterdam. It's a little too much to be here for me every day and too many things going on here that I'd like to live at least 40 minutes away. So, I'm close but not too close.
2) How did it all start for you, music-wise?
It's always hard for me to track down exactly where I started. For me I grew up with certain songs my dad used to play. He used to DJ at a radio station, a very bold radio station, and he would play all the classics. I remember from day one when he took me there to stay with him so I did not have to go to friends', I could stay with my dad and to go to the radio station. What I was doing was listening and watching what he's doing and I thought, "Whoa, this is really cool!" Playing records for other people and getting to pick what song he could play at that moment I was like, "Ah, it's great to know." I developed a certain love for playing music and so I started to play drums and I started to play the classics. I listened to Dire Straits and Creedence Clearwater Revival and all this kind of stuff that my dad used to play me ... Toto, the Eagles.
3) How did what you were doing music-wise evolve?
I developed further into electronic music. I got to learn the songs of Tiesto. I was a little older with many heroes, the guys who came around; Armin van Buuren came around. That's when I decided to develop my own sound. I was like, "Hey, I want to do something in EDM," which back then it did not have a name like this; it was just House or Dance music. And I met at Fedde Le Grand a great hero. Love his songs and that's when I decided this is what I want to do. "Put Your Hands Up for Detroit" by Fedde Le Grand ... that song ... I wanted to make music like that.
4) You've done songs with NERVO, "Like Home" and with Avicii, "I Could Be The One", which was a massive record that we had the pleasure of promoting. You also did "Legacy" with Krewella, and "Let Me Feel" with Vicetone, whom you signed to your label. How did you end up teaming up with these other artists?
We are always trying to find new talent within the market that is so oversaturated with music. Because there is almost more music than we can handle. There's so many people who put loops together and say that they are producers and they give it out to people saying it's their new song. It's so hard to filter out the quality producers. So if we got something like 1,000 demos, we might get five good songs and two really great songs, for example.
This is how he found Volt & State. They just had quality music and the guys knew what they were doing. They had knowledge of chord arrangement. So yeah. It's funny, 'cause they only live like 20 miles away from me and I said, "Guys, we need to work together," and that's how it started. That's how they did a few of their songs and the songs on the label, and they got to know me, and it all came together and they're also signed to the management company we have. They do great! I think we can be really happy with each other. I learn from them and they learn from me. They learn from the team. So it's a great combination.
Vicetone was the same thing; we found them last year 2014, they did a tour with us. And it was the best thing. We said, "Let's try it out," and that song became pretty big at that time. And I was like, "This is great!" I realized the new people could bring you something. It's not always about me bringing something to the new people. It's very much about absorbing things from the new generation as well and taking it to your music. This is what David Guetta has been doing for so many years; that's why he's still so successful.
5) Your current single is "Lighthouse" and you have a video for it ... a great video! What can you tell us about the song and the video?
"Lighthouse" was originally written with a guy called Denny Shaw. I wanted to take the music a little bit more to a band-ish kind of feeling; like you're playing in the band. Like it's really music; it needs to be more alive. I played the drums in that song, and we tried to focus more on live feeling. It was the same thing with the video. You know, it's so easy to just get nice cars and girls, and have a party. They've been doing this for so long, and this is what we've been seeing on TV for so long ... you think that electronic dance music is just cars, girls and bling-bling and look at me, and booze and all this stuff, and think that's all it is. No, we wanted to make it more of the story, like a movie and, number two, of serial ... three songs altogether, and all the clips of every song are connected to each other, which makes it one small movie. So like you, I just saw the second part of the movie, with part three coming with the next song.
6) How long do we have to wait, and do your fans have to wait to see the end of the video and what happens next?
I cannot say exactly when, but I can say it will be with a song of that sequence, it may be a month or two.
7) Can't wait for that! Were you just in the studio with Nile Rodgers? How did that come about?
I can tell you exactly how that started. We were in Los Angeles. I was in for the day doing writing sessions and was told that I had a session with Nile Rodgers. To be honest with you, I did not know who Nile Rodgers, was so I had to Google him. It's sad; he was a legendary guy. He played, "Get Lucky" and this is and that, I was like, "Whoa! That's cool!" I watched a few videos on YouTube on his history and what he's done and I found out about Chic and I found out about Madonna, Duran Duran and all the songs he's been playing, performing and producing. I found out he produced an album of Madonna's all by himself, "Like A Virgin." So that was mind blowing.
We did a session where he is just grumbling up his guitar, warming up the muscles in his hand and I was like, "Nile, I need to record this, what you're playing right now, even though it's warming up." He was just playing and I was like we need to record this. So we recorded that on the spot, his warming up and I said "Give me those notes." I converted his audio to midi and within two hours I recorded a song around it, a demo, that's how I started that song with Nile. David was there and said we need to change this or that and make it less fast, so we put it to 120 BPM, which is a much, much slower BPM, which is Beats Per Minutes for those of you who don't know, than normal Dance music, which is around 126-130, so it's much slower. If you hear the song, which I would love to play for you now but I'm not sure I'm allowed to, it really feels like it's a groovy Dance song that comes from the 2015 mix version of Nile Rodgers' original songs, with Nicky Romero. It sounds really like nothing else, I believe.
8) The name of your company is Protocol, where did the name come from?
Well, I was on the train to Paris and I was like, "I will have my own label, but I would only have it if we could find something that really matches the feel of having your own label. What words can define our vision on music ... and I was like: Protocol. You need to have protocol to have things go your way. Then I was like, "Wait, that could be your signature thing." Protocol speaks for itself. With Protocol, you do things your way. It's got to be done this way; we have guidelines, how it's set up. And that's what we do now at the label. We have our own sound, our own artists, and you can be in it or out. But if you're in it, you follow our Protocol [to success]!
9) If you weren't working and you could go see one artist or DJ, who would it be?
The artist I would want to go see is John Mayer.
10) We're in Amsterdam ... we want to get some food to eat; where should we go for a good bite to eat?
Wow, I really like Mo-Mo.