London duo Nero is Daniel Stephens and Joe Ray; signed to Chase & Status’ MTA imprint they’re currently readying their debut LP ‘Welcome Reality’ for the world at large.
Like long-time friends Chase & Status, Nero’s creators have their roots in the underground Drum and Bass scene and their well-received 2004 EP ‘Requiem’ was just the beginning of what was to develop some five years later. The winning combination of electro and dub-step means world recognition, bigger budgets and bigger stages.
Jasmine Phull talks to Nero during their festival tour, next up Kendal Calling, and ahead of their ‘Welcome Reality’ LP release.
You were nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2011. Have you felt the effects of that in terms of promotion and publicity? Have more opportunities arisen because of it?
It definitely increased the awareness for Nero so we’re really happy we made the nominations. Radio 1 has really got behind us since then, which has been a great help too. Getting nominated was something that we never expected so we’re really honoured it happened.
You’ll be releasing debut ‘Welcome Reality’ via Chase & Status’ MTA imprint. How did that collaboration come about?
We’d known Will and Saul for a while from the Drum and Bass scene, we always got on well and they approached us at the same time a few other labels were talking to us about album deals. It felt right doing it with them as they’ve been through it all before and offer great guidance as well as just being a label. It’s a great vibe.
How long has the debut been in the making?
Well, we started producing ten years ago, so you could say a decade… But we really seriously started writing the album, in the form that it is in now, about two years ago.
Did you record it in a particular place? Did location play an important part in the forming of the album?
We’ve been writing and recording at our studio. We share space in the complex with Sub Focus, Shy FX, Breakage, Caspa and of course, Chase & Status. It’s a good melting pot of ideas in there.
You’re currently based in London but is there another location you would consider moving to in terms of evolving Nero?
LA? New York? Mars? Anywhere Nero is needed! I think we’re going to keep our options open.
The most ludicrous thing you’ve ever read about the band?
I read in the Guardian that we make “Chart-bound Chav Step” and the journalist meant it in the nicest possible way. That was quite flattering and hilarious at the same time.
Festival season is in full-swing; do you find you have to cater your sets depending on whether you are playing a venue gig or a festival? Is there more pressure with one than the other?
Not really, we tend to just play like we’re at a festival wherever we go. Lots of big bass tunes, mixed hard and relentlessly. We only play for an hour or so at a time as we try and make our sets as energetic and well-paced as possible.
How important is visual aesthetic to Nero? On stage do you put a big importance on what you wear?
It is definitely something that is important to us, something that has evolved and will continue to evolve as we grow. We put a lot of effort into the visual aesthetic of the full live show, which was unveiled at Radio 1s Big Weekend. It’s not just what we wear but the stage design and everything that goes with it.
Do you have a song you currently like to finish a set with?
We’ve been road testing our next single “Promises” as the last tune recently, it’s been going down well so far, a few more tweaks and it will be ready for a full airing.
What was the first album you bought?
The Offspring - Smash
The last song you listened to?
Sebastian - 'Embody'
Have you integrated collaborative efforts into the debut and if not is that something you’d look into doing for the next release?
We wanted to make as much of the album Nero, rather than introduce to many collaborations. We write lyrics, melody music - everything we can. Occasionally we use samples in our tracks but that’s about it. There is one collaboration on the album though. I don’t want to say too much yet but we like to think it’s not an obvious choice.
Lastly is collaboration better than competition? Or vice versa?
That depends on the collaborator and the competition!
Written by: Jasmine Phull
Nero play at The Warehouse Project on October 8th. Tickets are available below.
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