Extending our exclusive Tomorrowland Rewind series, we bring you our third installment with a heart-to-heart with none other than Dutch hearthrob Nicky Romero. The breakthrough star with the bulletproof work ethic is credited as a driving force behind the fantastic health the scene currently enjoys. In every aspect of his life – as DJ, producer and label head – he is a tireless advocate for his art. With a keen interest in the drums and an early career spinning house and R&B quickly evolved into an unbridled passion for music production. Early releases, picked up by boutique outfit Once Records, caught the attention of some of the more established labels: Spinnin’, Fly Eye, Toolroom and Flamingo Recordings. Today, Nicky Romero is paying it forward with his Protocol brand that is quickly establishing itself as a leading dance music platform – a go-to outlet for forward-thinking dance music. Last month, during the iconic Tomorrowland festival, we had a chance to have a little exclusive chat with him, and so here he is – please welcome Nicky Romero!
TBB: Hi Nicky! Welcome to http://www.thebanginbeats.com, thank you for taking time out to speak with us.To get the ball rolling, we’re rather intrigued about how you arrived at a career in music and what inspired you to produce electronic music?
Nicky Romero: Hey, no worries, thanks for having me! My love for electronic music and DJing started when I was working in a local bar, cleaning up glasses mopping floors, that kind of thing. I was always really jealous of the DJ in the booth mixing tracks and making people dance, and I have always been into music, so I followed the passion and gave it a go. Once I started producing tracks it all happened really fast, I was very lucky!
TBB: We learned that you were part of a marching band in school where you played percussion. Would you credit that perhaps as your starting point?
Nicky Romero: Haha! Let’s not talk about that! No, as I said, music has always been a huge part of my life and when I was a kid I was always throwing myself into whatever I could music-related – even if it was a little embarrassing!
TBB: Talking about starting points, not many know about one of your first rendezvous’ with dance music. So for the yet uninitiated, are we likely to hear an official re-mastered remix of “Dinobabies” soon?
Nicky Romero: Haha, not anytime soon I don’t think. Never say never though?
TBB: Speaking about the DJ Mag Top 100 poll, this year you’re running the rather exciting and extremely engaging #CallNicky campaign. Could you tell us a little about the campaign and why you decided to go ahead with the idea?
Nicky Romero: We wanted to do something a little different really, something fun where the fans can really interact. We decided to go ahead with the idea because we hadn’t seen anything like it before and it’s just a bit of a laugh. We’ve had a lot of amazing feedback about it,so thank you to everyone who has checked it out.
TBB: Moving on, what led you to establish your very own label in Protocol Recordings? Was there any specific reason for you to choose the name?
Nicky Romero: I wanted to create platform to help support and nurture up and coming talent and to give them a chance in the music industry. It’s become more of a brand than just a label, what with the radio show and the events all around the world, and it’s something I’m incredibly proud of. The name Protocol was chosen because we follow steps (aka a protocol) to get to that point where we make / strive to make the perfect music.
TBB: Needless to say, the “Protocol” brand has been a key component in your life and career for a while now. Tell us, how does it feel to have completed 100 episodes of your radio show, “Protocol Radio” recently? Considering there are so many great producers around nowadays dishing out some wonderful tracks, how do you decide what tracks to feature on the show?
Nicky Romero: It feels incredible and I am so grateful for every one who has tuned in over the years.The beauty of running your own label and your own show is that you are in charge. I get sent a huge amount of musicfrom new and established talent every day, so if I like a track, I play it – no questions asked.
TBB: Interestingly you’re one of the few artists to have made use of Google’s path breaking, “Google Glass” technology. Could you describe the experience for our readers?
Nicky Romero: I first used Google Glass at TomorrowWorld 2013 in Atlanta and it was amazing – unlike anything I’ve done before. I was really excited to get involved in the project because it gave my fans the chance to see my life through my eyes – something which nobody had really done before. It was great fun and hopefully everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.
TBB: Across the world fans have come to associate the popular Guy Fawkes mask with you ever since you made use of it in the video of your chart-topping track, “Toulouse”. Any story behind why you chose to incorporate the mask into the video?
Nicky Romero: Well it actually started when an amateur filmmaker contacted me with the completed video asking if I wanted to use it for the track. He ended up uploading the video onto Vimeo and it just exploded. It wasn’t actually an official video but it just went viral. It was even nominated for a load of awards! From then on,the mask became associated with Nicky Romero and the rest is history.
TBB: Quite a few stakeholders of the Dance Music industry across the world have criticized its increasingly commercial nature. As someone who is involved in so many dimensions of the electronic music sphere, we’re very intrigued to know your thoughts?
Nicky Romero: The dance music industry is continually growing and developing.At the moment the shows are still selling out and festivals are getting bigger and more exciting. To be honest I think it’s really healthy for the industry. The underground scene is still there, thriving and as good as ever so I can’t see it as a bad thing. The more interest there is for dance music as a whole, the better in my opinion.
TBB: There has been a lot of talk on social media and otherwise about your likeness in appearance to star footballer, Robin van Persie and we believe you recently had the chance to meet him. What was the experience like when one superstar met another?
Nicky Romero: It was really cool. Of course being Dutch I’ve always been a massive fan and always wanted to meet him. He is a great guy and we had a lot of fun. Hopefully next time we can get the football out!
TBB: Moving away from all the splendor surrounding the dance music industry, you’ve also given back to society and recently joined hands with ‘10,000 Hours’ for an act of real generosity. Could you tell us a little about your endeavor?
Nicky Romero: As soon as I got the phone call asking me to come get involved I was very honored, I straight away said “Yes, of course, I’d love to!” To be able to give back to the community in a way that’s not just ‘financial’ is great. It was a brilliant day spent painting and just hanging out with the kids. I loved every minute.
TBB: We were there at Tomorrowland this year and it goes without saying that, we were blown away by your set and can’t help but ask are there any upcoming releases, remixes or collaborations from your set which are to be released in the near future?
Nicky Romero: I’m really trying to focus on getting my album finished. I’ve also been putting a lot of energy into Protocol Recordings, supporting and pushing through all the new guys. There are some incredible new releases on the way over the next few months, which I can’t wait for people to hear.
TBB: Since we are http://www.thebanginbeats.com, we have to ask you our traditional question; tell us your top 3 #bangin tracks presently?
Nicky Romero: Arno Cost & Norman Doray – Strong
Sultan + Ned Shepard & The Boxers Rebellion – Keep Moving
Bobby Rock’s – New Life ft. Cimo Frankel
TBB: Last year, we had you come down to India but for one night only. Could describe your experience for us? Any chances we get see you come back later this year for a multi-city tour?
Nicky Romero: My time in India was brilliant thank you, everyone was so kind and the scenery was beautiful, it definitely made me want to come back again – hopefully sooner rather than later!
TBB: Time for a few rapid-fire questions! (You have to answer these in a few seconds)
The best lesser-knowntrack of 2014 until now?
Arno Cost & Norman Doray – Strong
Your favourite Dutch footballer?
I guess it would have to be my ‘twin’, Robin Van Persie.
Krewella or Nervo?
Your personal favourite party destination?
Like all DJs I love Ibiza, but there is nothing like being home and playing in front of a Dutch crowd.
If not a producer/DJ you would be?
Footballer. I reckon I’d give Van Persie a run for his money.
Three essentials you always carry with you on stage?
TBB: To round things up, would you like to give any message to your fans in India and all across the world?
Nicky Romero: Thank you so much for all your love and support you continue to give me, it really does mean the world! I will come see you sometime soon … oh yeah and of course make sure you pick up your phone and #CallNicky!
Thank you so much for taking time out and speaking with us. We are http://www.thebanginbeats.com. It’s been a pleasure!
Interviewed by: Aditya Seth