Archives for posts with tag: Nero

nero1 -@jameshawkridge

The last time this group manifested itself, they demonstrated a quality that was  just so dazzling and mind blowing. I witnessed their power first hand live years ago, along with their personal charm working backstage in Seattle. So the bar was way, way up there. And getting clues that they were returning, I was very eager to hear, and slightly uneasy. The landscape of electronic music feels very different this time around, and I was curious to see how they’d stamp their name in album two.

 

After a first listen around the release date of Between II Worlds this past September, and several over the next few months, the album resonated with me more and more. At first, it didn’t seem to hold the same cohesion as their debut, Welcome Reality. I enjoyed pieces, but as a whole I wasn’t fully satisfied. This perspective has changed, as I’ve changed. There is still a distinct, “Nero” vibe.

This theme of some sort of relationship having issues was given a whole new context the other day, playing the film Man of Steel on mute while letting this new full length play through. Watching the new born Kal-El sent off Krypton by his parents, just before the planet self-destructed was moving on a whole other level, soundtracked by those first few tracks, such as “Circles” and “It Comes And It Goes”.

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This time around, they sound more band like. The production style feels less monstrous, still vast, with moments of a kind of old-school flair. One thing that remains throughout both albums is such incredible emotional strength. If you’re having intense, unsettling and/or chaotic experiences in your life, Nero really “goes there”, riding waves of feeling with a whole lot of spunk. They are still securely holding their own space, and I welcome artists challenging it all with their ventures down these varying locations in time and space.

nero3 - @vtlmedia

Their 2015 Essential Mix, (round two for them on this legendary UK based series, with Pete Tong) was also one I warmed up to. I mean, what DO you do after crafting a mix like they debuted on Radio 1 in 2010?? I would boldy state it’s one of the best mixes ever constructed on Earth.  But hey, they won me over once again. Huge cheers to Dan Stephens, Joe Ray and Alana Watson!! Thanks for stickin’ around, we love ya’ll.

 

Photo credits respectively, @jameshawkridge, Legendary, @vtlmedia

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thisisnero.com

– Jimi Jaxon

 

 

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Jimijaxon

There’s been a lot of activity on this blog in 2012. Not having a search bar on here, I feel that some interviews have been overlooked. I want to highlight 10 conversations I’ve had in 2012 that left a lasting impact. I also want to say how much I appreciate all of you that read and support Disco Droppings. WordPress sent me my annual statistics report for this blog, and in 2012, people from 135 countries came through; America being number one, followed by the UK and Canada. I haven’t traveled outside of America, besides Canada and Mexico. It’s inspiring and humbling that my features have reached people as far away as Mongolia, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. Onward and upward..

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10. Distal (Atlanta, Georgia) –  We talked about his acceptance into RBMA 2013, his fantastic Boiler Room set, his label Embassy Recordings, along with books and films he’s been into recently.

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9. Bosstone (Melbourne, Australia) – Started off this post with his epic tune “Lean”, off his Gun Club EP via Paradisiaca Recordings. Also profiled his remixes of Pryda’s “Miami To Atlanta” and Amerie’s “1 Thing”.

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8. Alex Bau (Germany) – I was super hyped to talk with Alex, as he’s my favorite techno producer. We discuss his huge output of releases in 2012, where to go out in Germany, why he calls his remixes “Repaints” and what “The Holy Bassdrum” means to him.

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7. Jonny Dub / Hoya:Hoya (Manchester, UK) – Jonny is a resident DJ and co-founder of Hoya:Hoya, one of the top club nights in the world, which has hosted Kode9, Actress and Hudson Mohawke to name a few. I loved his “Hoya:Hoya Podcast Mix #2”, and chat with him about the club night, who he’s inspired by and the dynamics between Illum Sphere (co-founder of Hoya) and himself.

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6. Mosca (London, UK) – It was quite a challenge, coming up with questions for such a razor-sharp producer like Mosca. He gives advice to young producers like myself, and talks about his Eva Mendes EP for Hypercolour.

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5. Slick Shoota (Oslo, Norway) – I had such a good time talking with Slick back in May. For the rest of the year I’ve watched his tunes be exposed to more and more people, through his touring schedule and support from high-profile artists. His tracks were featured on “Diplo and Friends” for BBC Radio 1 and Machinedrum has been regularly playing his remix of Bambounou’s “Alpha”. We talk about his “Percussion Skank” EP, his favorite juke phrases and his “Windbreaker” collaboration with Cedaa.

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4. Ghostdad (Brooklyn, New York) – This dude put together some of the coolest visuals I’ve ever seen for Porter Robinson. When I traveled to Las Vegas back in June for EDC, my favorite set hands down came from Porter. At 19 years old, he played the main stage (which was the biggest stage in North America to date) on the third day. Ghostdad’s visuals for the show combined anime, video games, nature, space and mayan/egyptian imagery. He also accompanied Porter Robinson as a VJ on his Language Tour.

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3. Lucid (Melbourne, Australia) – By far the most in-depth interview I’ve done so far. I got to know Lucid for weeks through AIM leading up to the interview. This is pretty close to his life story, documented on Disco Droppings. Everything from Tupac to N64 to his “cry/lovemaking” dream set is included here.

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2. XI (Berlin, Germany) – This conversation flowed so easily. Christian is a very special man; he talks passionately about Actress, videogame soundtracks and what a game soundtracked by XI would look like.

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1. Alana Watson of Nero (London, UK) – The beautiful and lovely Alana. I got her perspective as the vocalist for Nero. She talked with me about her headlining show in Seattle for Resolution 2012, Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 show and her favorite Nero track.

– Jimi Jaxon

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A recent Mixmag interview with Machinedrum has prompted my assessment of EDM. I was impressed with Machinedrum, aka Travis Stewart’s balanced observations of underground dance music and EDM. Being such a driving force in the underground, it is refreshing to see someone like Machinedrum speak on Mixmag, without even a hint of attitude or territorial ego. You don’t hear an us vs. them argument, which I think is vital for the healthy development of electronic music as a whole.

This attitude especially connects with me, because my journey with electronic music has gone through many stages. With close to zero knowledge of electronic music up until the age of 18, I saw Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 show in Seattle. From there I saved up for DJ equipment, and by February 2008 I was practicing in my dorm room, without any sort of a community of like minded people. Soon after I was invited to my first rave, with the funny name “Hakuna Matata” (it was year 4 or 5 of their series, I can’t remember which). This began my entrance into the rave scene. Having grown up never attending house parties as a kid, and also having been completely sober up until that rave, it was a big moment for me. I was hearing electro house, breakbeat, drum & bass, happy hardcore, psy-trance, and eventually dubstep which started to slowly find it’s way into the parties. Rave culture was very influential to me, for the freedom it gave, the ability to soak in the dynamics between the DJ and the audience and the overall loving and accepting attitude that I got from people at those parties.

Eventually, that particular area of partying faded for me, but my devotion to DJ’ing continued on. Eventually I was putting on shows with my friends and exposing myself to styles not presented at the raves. Later, I found myself working for USC events; A Seattle-based, EDM focused group putting on large-scale electronic events hosting artists like Nero, Calvin Harris, Porter Robinson, Afrojack, Sub Focus and Tiesto. At the same time I also started and continue to work for Decibel Festival; an international electronic festival working more in the underground area, bringing artists such as Amon Tobin, Flying Lotus, Addison Groove, Autechre, Trentemoeller, Four Tet and James Blake. I find myself straddling EDM and the underground and have come to understand that’s perfectly fine. I don’t take the stance of, “Oh I’m over here doing this underground stuff I’m done with EDM”, or “It’s all about EDM”, I have taken influence from all of it, and certain styles and communities made sense to me at different times.

I speak about this, because it’s important for me to always understand where I came from. I came through the EDM/rave scene, but that was one piece of the puzzle, one element in my overall development as an artist. Everyone comes into electronic music at their own level, it is important to respect that, and at the same time analyze what you’re seeing. In my case now, I push forward so that the music and the community around me remains strong and interesting.

That being said, EDM seems to be having some sort of identity crisis. A lot of the artists I adored during my rave days have in my opinion, stalled creatively. I see a lack of progression now, a lack of a narrative, and too much a focus on partying. In the long run, this combination of factors, if they remain the same will burn out the audience and the artists. As I said in my review of EDC 2012 in Las Vegas, only a small handful of artists seemed to be bringing that fresh, distinct feel to their performances (Afrojack, Feed Me, Porter Robinson). A shining example of an artist bringing a strong narrative and music that works at the party and home is Nero’s debut album, Welcome Reality, a concept album which debuted at #1 in the UK charts. I have yet to hear another recent album within this EDM category with such style diversity, emotional range and distinct atmosphere. Nero is especially close to my heart for several reasons; their Essential Mix is arguably one of the best ever produced for BBC Radio 1, I had the honor of working for them when they headlined USC’s Resolution 2012 (New Years Eve) and I interviewed their vocalist, Alana Watson for Disco Droppings at the beginning of this year. That interview, week after week, month after month all the way through to today, has pulled more views than any other post I have ever written for this blog. I have the utmost respect for Nero, and at the same time, I see the difficulties they now face. They may have produced one of the most solid albums in the EDM community ever, but that community seems to be falling out from under them. There just don’t seem to be enough like-minded artists pushing things forward. I’m very interested to see what a sophomore Nero album will sound like, being as smart as they are, I hope they are foreseeing these issues with EDM, and planning to once again change up their game.

 

You may be unaware, but there is a battle for control over EDM on the business side. I picked up the September issue of Billboard Magazine with the title “Inside The EDM Arms Race; Robert F.X. Sillerman Has A $1 Billion Plan To Conquer The World Of Dance Music“. Before he set his sights on EDM, Mr. Sillerman took a network of individual concert businesses and combined them into one single massive empire, SFX Entertainment. That company was sold to Clear Channel for $4.4 billion in 2000, which eventually became Live Nation. Now, this approach of buying up smaller companies and merging them into one focuses on the electronic dance music in America, which has grown into a gigantic money maker. Sillerman’s SFX Entertainment has begun buying up different companies within the EDM community, from Disco Donnie Presents (promotion company for Middle America events) to Live In Color (Florida based promoter for co-ed paintball parties, formerly known as Dayglow Productions). If all goes according to his plan, 18 other EDM entities, from promoters to ticketing groups to venues will all be under Sillerman’s ownership. By the end of this experiment , over $1 billion dollars will be spent to acquire over 50 companies, marking the largest EDM conglomerate ever. It’s quite sad that someone doing all this has no actual passion towards the music. In Sillerman’s words, “I know nothing about EDM..But I sit in the meetings, to the extent that they are (meetings). I meet the people whose places we’re buying. And I haven’t a fucking clue what they do or what they’re talking about. Not a clue. And I love it. I just love it.” That right there, is fucked up. He will eventually flood America with big-scale event after big-scale event, and given that EDM is already looking unsure of itself music-wise, I predict this huge boost in shows will burn out the audience, due to exhaustion, overstimulation and lack of money. The party will be over. So I call on those in the EDM community to move towards something that transcends the party. I also call on the underground community to drop the territorial attitudes, and realize that so many more people are now open to electronic sounds, and eventually many of those people will come searching for you. 

I’ll end this post with some of my personal favorites in EDM. At its most positive, I feel it has opened up a very big sonic quality, and several artists have produced some savage tracks that I have held onto. Please excuse any youtube artwork that’s cliche; one of the most annoying aspects of EDM online are pictures of chicks in their underwear, tits being covered by headphones..let’s please move on from that. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Jimi Jaxon 

The wonderful Alana took time out of her grueling tour schedule to talk with Disco Droppings. We cover a lot in this interview; Nero’s NYE performance in Seattle, Daft Punk, dystopian worlds and such. I am always thinking of them, for their ability to deliver an epic artistic vision while still remaining kind and well-balanced. Cheers to Dan, Joe and Alana! If you haven’t already, listen to their monumental Essential Mix and pick up the Deluxe Version of their album, Welcome Reality 

 

DD Such a delight to talk with you again Alana. When I first met you it was NYE. Nero headlined the Resolution show, and I feel it was a stunning performance by Dan and yourself. I was thrashing around harder than anyone on that stage. What did you think of Seattle? 

A Great to talk to you too. I loved Seattle. It was my first time there and I was suitably impressed. The venue was awesome, the crowd were mental and the sushi was delicious! Dan and I really enjoyed ourselves and hope that next time we’re in town we don’t have to rush off to LA to shoot a music video!

DD That NYE show had a lot of symmetry for me. Back in 2007, I saw my first electronic show, Daft Punk, in that same venue. To be able to work for you guys in the same venue was awe-inspiring. You saw Daft Punk in Australia right? What do you remember most vividly about that night? 

A We saw Daft Punk in London actually. They played Hyde Park for the O2 Wireless Festival in 2007. It was insane. Ridiculously good. The light show (pyramid) and production was outstanding and really inspired us. I remember daydreaming about that show for days afterwards thinking ‘will we ever be able to do anything even half as good?’


DD From the album, “Welcome Reality”, which songs lyrics do you resonate with most? Also, which song was most difficult for you to master in a live setting? 

A The answer to both questions is probably ‘Guilt’. I think lyrically it’s open to interpretation and can have different meanings for different people which I like. I personally imagine a girl who is unsure of where she stands in a relationship. 

I said to Dan and Joe the day that we recorded it in the studio that I would never be up for singing it live. It was at the top of my range and really difficult. However, it sneaked it’s way into our live show and with practice it has become easier. 

 

DD Who are some vocalists that you draw inspiration from? 

A I’m inspired by such a vast range of vocalists from all decades and genres of music. I love Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, Thom Yorke, Michael Jackson, Skin from Skunk Anansie, the list could go on and on for days to be honest. 

DD Dan & Joe have mentioned dystopian environments such as Akira and Bladerunner as inspirations for Nero. Are you into these kinds of stories too?

A Yes, absolutely. I’m slightly obsessed with post apocalyptic films and love that dark 80’s vision of the future. Akira and Bladerunner are classics but i’m also into films like 28 Days Later…you’ve gotta love a good zombie flick. 

DD Which remix of a Nero track do you connect with most? Personally I’m in love with Fred Falke’s remix of “Reaching Out”. 

A For me it’s Nero and Skrillex’s collaboration remix of ‘Promises’. Sonny came to our studio in London and wrote the piano intro in a matter of minutes. I was in awe of how fast he worked. We had the main bulk of the tune written and produced after only 2 to 3 hours. What I particularly like is that I can hear a little of all three producer’s style in the one tune. 


DD How has working with Dan & Joe impacted your mindset and perspective? And lastly, what would you say to young artists, trying to find their voice?

A I’ve been best friends with Dan and Joe for over 10 years so working with them initially was just like hanging out and jamming with mates. Then, whilst I was training to be a midwife things got more serious for Nero but I still perceived it as more of a hobby. In October of last year my mindset definitely changed when I gave up midwifery to concentrate on music full time. We’ve been pretty much touring solidly since and I love it!

I would say to other artists that finding your own sound can be difficult. I had it easy because Dan and Joe really knew what they liked. They helped me find a sound that worked well with their music. The female airy quality of my voice seems to work really well with their more masculine bass driven production.

 

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http://www.thisisnero.com/

– Jimi Jaxon