Nero

by Angel Fützmania

We Stuffed Our Dreams Into a Lantern, and Let Them Float Skyward Until Dawn
Los Angeles seems to be all the bee’s knees for any numbnuts who spent the better part of the last six months in some hell-draped “four-season” climate; they’ll tell you as they arrive how “brutal” their winter was, and how they “just don’t know” if they could possibly sustain another Dostoevsky-fine internment under the clouds, and the cold, with the mud, and the ice, and how they’d “jump at the chance” to live in L.A. if they could. They’ll prattle on about the comparably low cost of rent, the crispiness of our tortas, the way the derrieres of our denizens seem to bend corners like a late ’90s BMW, and how they’ve always fancied a turn on the lot, taking a cue, channeling their “instrument.” All of a sudden, though, their babbling face is split in half by a two-ton concrete beam, cousins of which spill down like an overflowing bowl of industrial spaghetti, because, kids, an earthquake is upon us, ripping the city limb to limb, and reminding the curious, the gushing fans of our artificial city, that the bone dry earth we roll our Chinese-built, Japanese autos over during our daily commute, contains a fault that would have even Johnny Cochran’s BVD’s in a #TBT. So, while you might admire the land of palms, it’s best to stick to what you know: England. And when it comes to earthquakes, keep them to 50 minutes at major festivals, or three hours if it’s pals and private. Electronic outfit Nero dropped somewhat of a quake this spring, headlining our fault-saddling fest Coachella, and here they talk about all sorts of shit.

How would you describe your sound? 

Our style can change from song to song, although there’s always a ‘Nero sound’ that runs through the music. It’s hard for us to pin-point what makes that our sound because we just write what feels natural to us. Often other people will say “I can tell that’s a Nero song” when we’ll be listening to the same song and wondering whether it sounds like us.

Where do you call home?

We’re all from London. Joe [Ray] lives in East London and myself [Daniel Stephens] and Alana [Watson] live in West London. We’ve lived in L.A. for a few months here and there over the last few years. When we started writing this album we were living in the Hollywood Hills, in the house that Orson Welles wrote Citizen Kane. But I don’t think any of us could ever live anywhere full time other than London.

What’s changed for you musically over the last couple of years since your last album release? 

I don’t think much has changed. We didn’t want to move too far from the sound of Welcome Reality. At the same time, it’s been nearly four years since Welcome Reality was released so there’s always a natural progression. This album is definitely a bit more eclectic in terms of styles. There’re a couple of tracks that are verging on love ballads.

As a trio, how does your song-writing process work? 

We’ll often start song ideas separately, then play early sketches to each other and go from there. We have a few vintage analogue synths, a guitar, and a live room with a drum kit set up in it, so sometimes we jam a bit. We tend to all write the lyrics and vocal melodies together, often at a midway stage in a song. There’s a couple of vocal top lines on this album that were written during the last album. The original backing tracks weren’t working so they didn’t make the cut for Welcome Reality but we knew the vocals were strong. It’s actually really hard trying to write a track to go under an already written vocal. Especially if you love the vocal. It can feel like whatever you write doesn’t do the vocal justice. Or it’ll sound more like a remix than an original song.

Tell us about your album title, Between II Worlds. What worlds are these?

For us, it’s the two sides of Nero. We have a band-y side—tracks like “Promises,” “Me and You,” and “The Thrill” have a stadium rock feel. Then there’s our more dance floor, nightlife side.

It also has sci-fi connotations, of course. We embraced the sci-fi aspect of the title in the album track “Between II Worlds.” We wrote a monologue that we wanted to sound like a sample from a film. It’s about someone who dreams they become light which travels between two worlds.

What will a summer camp in the year 2808 look like?

There’s no summer in the year 2808.

Utopia or dystopia?

Definitely dystopia.

Photographer: Luc Coiffait at LucCoiffait.com.

Hair: Shukeel Murtaza for UntitledArtistsLDN.com.

Makeup: Joanna Banach for UntitledArtistsLDN.com.