IT was something as simple as a night out at one of the world’s most famous clubs that inspired UK electronic act Nero to make music. Years later they’ve topped the charts, produced a best-selling and critically acclaimed album and toured the world.
But that doesn’t mean the group – Daniel Stephens and Joe Ray joined by Alana Watson – don’t feel pressure to deliver on their next album, the follow up to 2011’s Welcome Reality.
LIVE caught up with Ray before Nero head to Australia for Parklife 2012.
You both started with a talent for classical music and instruments like cello and classical guitar. What prompted you to start making electronic music? Do you think your classical background influences Nero?
It was when we started going out clubbing regularly – when we started hearing electronic music out and the reaction it created on the dance floor which speared us on to start producing. We’d been writing more electronica, warp/ninja tune type stuff, but it was drum and bass that really clicked with us.
The classical background I think probably has influenced us a lot. We used to sample loads of classical music, and I think there’s something in its epicness and musicality that we try to translate to electronic music.
It’s rumoured a trip to famous London nightclub Fabric cemented your desire to become DJs.
Yes I think it was seeing James Lavelle in one room then wandering into the other room where Goldie was playing that kicked things off for us.
Your first release was in 2004 and then 2011’s Welcome Reality well and truly propelled you into the spotlight. Did it feel like a long time coming?
Not really – we never had expectations of ‘‘making it’’ and most of the time in between we really were writing music as a hobby, so it was more like a nice surprise when we started getting popular rather than something we’d been waiting for.
Was it a spin out to hit number 1 on the UK singles chart with Promises?
Yep, I don’t think many people thought it would happen, certainly not us. Apparently a lot of big pop labels were calling the Charts Company to check they’d counted the sales figures right ...
Welcome Reality and the singles off it were so successful and critically-acclaimed. Do you feel any pressure recording the follow up?
Yes a bit, but we keep reminding ourselves of how we got here, having fun and just writing the music we wanted to write. If you start forcing yourself to do something and it becomes a chore it’ll probably be bad.
Can you tell me about your new album, will it be consistent with your sound on Welcome Reality? Same ’80s-influenced, post-apocalyptic feel?
It’s too early to say really, it was only in the last few weeks of writing Welcome Reality that that sound came together, so who knows.
What do you make of the polarised opinions about dubstep and the arguments about conforming or not conforming to the genre?
We try not to pay too much attention to it. The term dubstep is so vague now and so many artists within that genre write at different tempos as well – the music should just be seen on its own terms, it’s far more interesting that way.
You’ve played in Australia a few times. Will you be bringing the full live show, with Alana, to Parklife?
Yep we’re bringing the live show to Parklife apart from Adelaide (due to stage restrictions on site) and then a few after-party shows around the cities.
The crowds have been amazing in the past, ’cos it’s so far I guess we don’t play there that often so when we do it’s extra special.
Nero play at Parklife Sydney on September 30 alongside The Presets, Passion Pit, Justice (DJ set), Plan B, Tame Impala, Robyn and more. Tickets and more information at parklife.com.au.