DJ/producer Nicky Romero stunned many in 2012 when he debuted at No. 17 as one of DJ Mag?s highest new entries ever. The latest in a proud line of great Dutchmen, Romero is currently riding arguably the most impressive sequence of collaborations in the industry. He spoke with Vegas Seven backstage right after his main-stage set June 21 at Electric Daisy Carnival.
You were one of 2012?s breakthrough artists. Who?s your pick for breakthrough artist of 2013?
I think it must be either Dyro or Krewella.
You teased your Krewella collaboration ?Legacy? at Coachella. How?s that coming?
I met the Krewella team in Hawaii last year, and I thought they played an amazing set. I was really impressed with the way they did the vocals, and how everything came together with the three of them. I sent them the ?Legacy? instrumental and they wrote a top line right on it in just a few days and it seemed to merge just perfect. I?m really happy with how it sounds right now, we have good hype around the song. We got more than 100,000 plays in just one day!
How was playing the main stage at EDC?
It was really, really insane to be up there and see all those people. I couldn’t expect anything better. The visuals were amazing and I think it was the best EDC show I’ve done so far.
You started as a drummer. How does that affect your approach to music today?
It kind of developed my interest for music in general. The drumming background showed itself when I did the remix for Green Velvet?s ?Flash,? because that was all about the drums and percussion. The platform that I created right now for protocol and for my own brand, really everything is based on the interest that started at a young age.
Let?s talk about Holland for a minute. How did growing up in that crazy breeding ground prepare you for the global scene?
Holland is a really easy country to live in. Everything [is] done so good, and the government is easy, and the schools and everything. This is a very laidback country. It?s crowded, but everything is sorted out well. So my influence was very easy. I didn?t have any trouble. [I had] a nice school, education.
Your single with Avicii, ?I Could Be the One,? has been a massive crossover success with sustained hype. What?s special about this record?
I think we are lucky that it got so big and it got to No. 1 in the U.K. I think that helps a lot. It was on the Billboard charts as well. So, like you mentioned, it keeps the hype a little bit longer. Actually, we produced it in 2011, so it?s out there for two years already, but people just only know it for like a year, not even. So, it?s kind of funny, for me, it?s a really old track, it?s a classic for me already.
What was it like to work on ?Right Now? with Rihanna?
I think it?s a dream of every producer to work with an artist of that profile. When I met her, I was really impressed by her presence. She was really kind to everyone, friendly and so professional. Everyone I met after who showed up a little arrogant, I kind of ignored. At this moment, the Queen of Pop is not arrogant, not at all. I saw that everyone who is huge in the industry is not arrogant; they are the most humble people. So whenever someone is arrogant, they have to make up for something.
You also worked with Nervo on ?Like Home.? Who?s hotter: Rihanna or the Nervo sisters?
It?s actually comparing white bread with nine-grain. [Laughing] One is dark and one is white, you know? If I really had to choose, Nervo is more a family to me. So, I would choose Rihanna.
You were playing ?Symphonica? in DJ sets for a year before you decided to release it. How do you know when it?s time to release a new track?
It?s not like that we do that on purpose. Most of the time we have such a full schedule that we have to move things up. But sometimes you play the single already for a year. That?s what happens with a lot of artists. A lot of people don?t know, either, that the song was produced for a year already before it actually releases. It?s just a process, and sometimes you just want to keep changing things and finalizing things until you?re really happy.
Between the hits, the chart success and the collaborations, what?s been the highlight of your young career?
Working with Rihanna was huge for me. Playing Tomorrowland was a really, really cool thing for me and also a highlight. EDC, once again, I have to mention. Playing Light yesterday was a new highlight of my career. I?ve never experienced a club like that. It was just insane. They flew me?literally?to the DJ booth. It was next-level stuff, so that made a big impact on me.
You?ve mentioned how quickly genres come in and out of hype. Where do you see hype right now?
We have much hype with the harder kick drums; I think it’s gonna be over soon. Of course the dubstep hype was huge and I feel it’s a little over now. Sad enough, because it was a serious next-level thing. Skrillex was the biggest one, of course, but it’s cool to see that he can do more things than just one genre. I think there’s a hype coming with producers using real instruments and going back a little more to music’s origins.
You’ve revealed something that bothers you in the industry: producers who pay to get their names on tracks. If you could magically make the industry perfect, what else would you change?
First of all I would change the programming of all the big festivals. A lot of festivals book because of pressure from the booking agency. I just think they should program music-wise, what fits best. If I was able to make the scene perfect I would choose by genre, not by how big the artist is. Next to that, I think like you said, it’s really important that artists should produce their own music and not just buy something that’s hype. Not just pick a good-looking guy, teach him how to mix really quickly, let someone else make his tracks and set him on a stage, and people will think it’s him. That’s something that bothers me because we work really hard to get our sound out there.
You?ve said that your favorite part of DJing is when you release a new track and it ?goes off? in the club. What is the biggest challenge?
To have a track sound good everywhere?on the small speakers, big speakers, your car radio, that?s something that?s really hard to do. And it always will be, because the mixing is the hardest part of making a song.