The Dutch DJ and record label owner shares more about his inspirations and how he dealt with anxiety
Photos: Nicky Romero/ Instagram/ Ultra Singapore
A regular on the electronic dance festival circuit ever since the release of ‘Toulouse’ in 2011, Nicky Romero is known for his upbeat bangers.
Besides DJ-ing, Nicky is also a ghost producer who has worked on tracks for the likes of Rihanna, David Guetta and Britney Spears.
The multi-talented artist also founded Protocol Recordings, whose roster includes big names like Calvin Harris, Blasterjaxx, R3hab and Vicetone.
While Nicky once cut back on his touring and musical production due to an unfortunate bout of anxiety, he is now back in full force.
Just a couple months ago, Nicky debuted his live drums set and has also hinted that new songs will be released soon.
With so much exciting stuff in the works, his appearance at Ultra Singapore 2017 is highly anticipated.
Ahead of his Ultra Singapore set, we catch up with the man to find out more about his music aspirations and what happens at DJ after parties,
What have you been up to lately?
2017 has been a very hectic but exciting year for me so far. I’ve done a lot of touring worldwide and played at large events such as Ultra Music in Miami and Kingsday in Amsterdam. I’ve also been very busy with my label, Protocol Recordings. We are having a massive year, with a lot of new releases and new talents. We have also started live streaming our radio show from our offices in Netherlands, which has been a blast.
You’ve been to Singapore a couple of times. How do you feel about coming back?
Singapore is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s such a futuristic and modern city with great food and nightlife. I’ve played at Zouk several times and I consider it one of the best clubs in the world. It reminds me of the legendary Pacha in Ibiza, which is another one of my favorites. So I’m looking forward to coming back to Singapore and playing for all my friends at Ultra this time around.
Is there anything you want to do or try this time round?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of free time while touring because of the grueling travel schedule. But if I have the time, I will definitely try to enjoy some street food from one of the hawker centres. I’m a big fan of all kinds of Asian food so I love sampling the different styles.
There are so many different genres of EDM. How would you describe your music to a non-EDM fan?
I would describe it as euphoric and melody-oriented music with a danceable beat. I think my music can appease most music fans due to these two elements.
You’re known for your hit songs ‘Toulouse’ and ‘I Could Be The One’, which were released a couple of years ago. Are you pressured to release songs that will potentially go viral?
Not really. I started my label Protocol Recordings with the intent to be able to release music on my own terms. We don’t release songs that aim to please a certain group; we release music that we enjoy ourselves and we think our fans will like as well.
What is the one song that is guaranteed to send the crowd wild when you drop it during a set?
Florian Picasso & Raiden – Hanabi.
You cut back on your touring commitments in 2015 due to your anxiety. How are you coping with your anxiety, especially in such a high-adrenaline-fueled industry like the EDM sphere?
It’s going better — living a healthier lifestyle helps a lot.
So when I’m touring, I try to work out, eat well and get some sleep in where I can. When I’m home, I try to relax and spend time in the studio without burning myself out. I’ve slowly started coping with the anxiety thanks to the help of my fellow artists and friends.
EDM music can be tricky to produce, and harder to convey emotions since there isn’t much language involved. How do you express yourself through your music?
Instead of using words, I try to express feeling through melodies and moods. I think an instrumental track can speak just as much to a listener as a song with lyrics. Like how a film score can prove to be an emotional force, I try to emote the same feeling with my music.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am inspired by my travels and new cultures. I’ve spent a lot of time in Latin America recently on tour. The music scene there is very tribal-inspired and has some really cool instrumentation. I definitely want to try to work that style and sound more into my productions.
Who are some of your fellow producers and DJs that you look up to?
David Guetta has been a mentor to me since I started out and he has helped me a lot, both musically and personally. He has helped me define and develop my sound and work process, while also being a great friend.
I’m also constantly inspired by the new talents on our label, as they really open up my eyes to new sounds. They make me want to push myself more creatively.
What’s the best thing about playing at festivals?
I love playing festivals due to the massive scale of it. You have a huge stage and a large audience, which really fuels the whole experience. There is a lot of positive energy in the air, which I try to capture with my set.
I’ve heard that the party usually continues after a gig (on tour). Do you have any crazy after-party stories?
Miami Music Week in March each year is always a crazy party. All DJs are in the same city for the week, so we attend each other’s club nights and have a lot of fun together. And those parties usually go on until early into the morning. All I can say is that we don’t get a lot of sleep during that week.
What do you hope to achieve this year, musically and personally?
I am planning to release material that is a bit different from what I usually do. I have been producing some songs that are more mellow and in a slower tempo. I just have to figure out the best way to release them. Other than that, there is some more radio-friendly songs planned and a lot of touring. I’m trying to hit up new countries this year, so far I’ve done Vietnam and Ecuador for the first time and there are some more I look forward to going to before the end of the year.
Finally, do you have anything special planned for your Ultra Singapore set?
I’m really excited to come back to Ultra Singapore. They have a fantastic stage production, so my team and I will be making full use of the whole stage and its screens. People can expect crazy visuals and a lot of new music from me!
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Nicky Romero will be spinning at the Ultra MainStage on 10 Jun at Ultra Singapore 2017.