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 everything live.
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 conceptual sound.
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?
Nero: 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.
OC Weekly: What has been your most memorable venue or festival to play?
Nero: 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.
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OC Weekly: What else is in store for Nero in the upcoming year?
Nero: 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!
OC Weekly: Any new big collaborations? Maybe another epic track with Skrillex?
Nero: 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.