Nicky Romero Discusses Production, New Music and His Upcoming Open-to-Close Show “Nightvision” [Interview]

It’s been a big year for Nicky Romero, but the biggest is yet to come. The Dutch superstar recently announced his first ever open-to-close solo show “Nightvision”, taking place December 2 at AFAS Live in Amsterdam. The show will take place one day after the release of Nicky’s forthcoming Nightvision EP, which will feature previously released singles like “Give In”, “Mahoya”, and his latest release with TELYKAST and Linney, “Desire.”

We recently got the chance to sit down and chat with Nick regarding all things “Nightvision”, how his production has evolved over the years, changes in the music industry over the past decade, and

Hey Nicky! Thanks for chatting with us as always. Tell us about your 2023? Give us some highlights and tell us what stood out to you this year.

“What’s stood out for me? I think, well, the best is yet to happen, other than all the great festivals, which I’m extremely lucky to play. But, we’re going to do my first solo concert in December, which is the first one in my entire career. December 2 at the AFAS Live in Amsterdam, so that’s going to be something that’s super special and I think I’m going to do things I’ve never done before. So, that’s why I’m saying it’s too early to give the highlight, because I think this is going to be the highlight of my career and not just this year.

But, if I had to name anything else, I feel like we’ve developed quite a cool sound, like a new sound. For example, ‘Techtronic,’ that was one of the first ones off the EP that kind of did really, really well, which was a new sound that not everybody, but some quite big names started to play. And, I feel like that record is the perfect blend of tech house, but still like almost a big room vibe. I just feel like it’s peak time tech-house, and that is the new sound that I tried to develop and over that, I tried to develop something else, which is the ‘Nightvision’ EP, that kind of has like a similar vibe to it.

But, I’m still learning, and I’m still trying to find gaps in the industry, here and there. I think that a big achievement for us was that ‘Techtronic’ tapped into something that wasn’t there yet.”

You’re most recent single “Desire” with TelyKast x Linney is the latest single off of your upcoming Nightvision EP. Tell us what we can expect with the full EP and what new phase of your production does Nightvision represent.

“So, it’s funny you bring that up because, ‘Desire’ for example, is quite similar production and musically to songs like ‘Legacy’, for example, which are super old records. Where the first breakdown is kind of like straight, and the second drop is more melodic and more based on chords. And that was the same with ‘Legacy’, the first drop was kind of a straight drop and then the second drop became more melodic.

Same with ‘Like Home’ for example, now ‘Like Home’ has the instrumental straight parts in the middle. So, I tried to bring the balance between like a straight drop that has one note for example, one bass note. When you make it melodic, it comes alive, it brings a certain emotion. That’s what I’m trying to do with the ‘Nightvision’ EP, where records are normally designed to get the crowd going, I try to get that energy and also make a combination with my fundamentals as a progressive house producer. We have chords, changing basslines, that’s what I try and do, and ‘Desire’ was one of the first records, also ‘Mahoya’ to bring that element, but I’m still developing it, it feels like we’re on a good track right now.”

Tell us about your upcoming open to close Nightvision show. How long are you going to play for and what will make this show so special?

“Oh, well, I just came from a big meeting about how we are going to develop that show, and what am I going to play, and it’s interesting to give you a few sneak peeks. We’ve been thinking about should we play third party music, should I play records from someone else, or should I make it strictly only Nicky Romero? Either originals, remixes, collaborations, or where I took part as a producer. Records with David Guetta and Rhianna for example, like ‘Right Now’ or Sia with ‘Bang my Head’, or with Britney and Will.I.am.

Am I going to take those elements into the show, because you want to reach a bigger audience. It’s not only the extreme fans who know everything from A-to-Z, it’s also going to be people that are going to the zoo the day after. You’re going to have a wide span of people that want to see that show. So, I’m trying to narrow down, what do I want to show them, what do I want them to experience? And, it’s also the storytelling of Nicky Romero, the artist over the last 14 years. So, that is something that we’re trying to find out with ‘Nightvision’ that I’m still developing.

I think we have a really good blueprint now for what we’re going to do. It’s going to be only our own music, and also some remixes, edits and tracks I co-produced and try to bring that together. And, the craziest part about this, how many artists and DJs do you see, actually like, play physical instruments? I’m going to be playing piano, I’m going to be playing drum pads. Basically, I’m trying to show the world that DJs don’t necessarily only press play, and I’m trying to show them this is how a record comes about.

Like, I can play every record I’ve ever made, I can play it for you right here on the keyboard. And, every song that I hear, I can play it in a second, because you’ve trained your ear so much. And, I’m trying to, not only for myself, but for all of my colleagues in the industry, to teach people that what we’re doing is nothing different from what a pop musician is different, just wrapped in a different wrap. ‘Nightvision’ is going to be the embodiment of that all including visuals that you’ve probably never seen.

I don’t have a lot of charting top 40 hit songs, but I feel like I have a really interesting story to tell. Because, the beginning of EDM as we know it, and how people conceive the word EDM, where it all started from me, I had records from Toolroom, I had Mark Knight emailing me, or Simon of Defected. Carl Cox reached out and played my records for Green Velvet, I was more underground.

Now people see me as a commercial EDM artist. Luckily, I’m one of the artists who got the extremely great opportunity to work with such a wide variety of artists. Calvin Harris, Guetta, Armin, Hardwell, Afrojack, Aviici, unfortunately we don’t have him anymore, which is an extremely big loss for everyone. But, I feel like I’m so blessed, and also the story with Guetta, how many chances he gave me, and still does sometimes. I’m trying to wrap that in a story, it could be like a book that’s converted into a movie or show.”

What’s it been like getting in the studio with Hardwell and Guetta in recent years? Especially since they’ve drastically changed their sounds over the past few years, and it’s reflected on the landscape.

“The last time I did a track with Hardwell was a record called ‘Beta.’ And, I remember that we did that like very hybrid, in terms of like half his plays, and half my plays. And, then it was just important to become number one on Beatport. In the beginning it didn’t really matter how many radio plays, nobody was going to play electronic music on the radio, other than like Guetta’s records which were extremely successful already. But, I was far from his status, and I still am to be honest.

But, we were not focused so much on getting radio airplay, we wanted to have a number one on Beatport, and that was just a way to reach an audience. There was no Instagram or Twitter that were active that much, it was kind of developing at the same time. So, it was just like we need to get a cool record and hope that a lot of DJs are going to play it. And, most important, we need to score high on Beatport. These days, it’s just different, Beatport is still extremely relevant. Actually, I think that it’s at its peak again, since maybe 2012 or 2013, which I’m super happy for because it’s a great platform to get your music from. Also, based on the rights and that people actually pay for the product. So, I’m a really big fan of Beatport.

So, yeah, right now we just want to make a record that makes us happy, we both have our own identity, and I really respect Hardwell. In the beginning, we’ve known each other for such a long time. I even drove him to his shows in his car, just being on the road with him hanging out. And then after that making records and then both developing a career, that wouldn’t have been in my mind ten years ago. But, yeah, that’s why the story is so fun. So, there’s a difference, and right now, it’s just like, oh this track needs to work in both of our live sets, on Ultra, Tomorrowland, or EDC, maybe even something like Lollapalooza or Coachella. How do we create a track which has both of our identities which we’ve developed over the years? So that’s just a different approach.”

This is one of those ones I usually ask, but what do you think of the state of dance music as we begin to close out 2023? Like the sounds, where do you think the sounds are going?

“Well, I feel that dance music, I mean, music in general, but let’s narrow it down to dance music. This is something that Guetta told me in 2014, he gave me so much knowledge of things. He told me this music industry is basically a wave, and a wave comes and it seems huge when you stand in front of it. Sometimes you’re in the water in Hawaii or somewhere in Australia and this wave comes, and it seems humongous when you’re in front of it, and you can’t see anything else but this wave, and you think that this wave is going to be the next big thing and it’s going to flood the entire country.

And, it’s true, sometimes there is a wave that really does that, but in our industry it’s true. There can be one sound so popular that it kind of takes over everything, and everyone is going to make that sound. And, then the next wave is coming and the next wave, and then the trick is how do you jump from wave to wave without losing your identity and how do you stay relevant? How do you stay relevant without losing your roots? Because if you’re jumping too fast people have no clue what they’re listening to or when they’re listening to Nicky Romero. So, how do you keep that brand without losing it, at the same time keeping up with the pace of the dance music industry?

Because, the music industry right now, feels like it’s moving faster than it ever did before. It feels like a record is out today, and it’s out tomorrow. I cannot play a record in my set that is not from the last two weeks, otherwise it feels old. And, this has been taken to an extreme, but, let’s say 10 years ago, I could play a record that was Beatport number one for six months and everybody would still love it. And now, there’s so much music, there’s so much output that a record starts to feel old after two weeks.

How is that going to work out in the future? I have no idea. I think people are going to really pick their own niche boxes with what they like, and the majority consumes everything, but therefore the quality goes down. It’s nothing different than the food industry.”

Do you have any book recommendations? Been streaming anything good lately?

“I love reading and gaining new knowledge. My girlfriend is always like when I’m with you it feels like I brought an encyclopedia with me. You have the knowledge of the entire world, which is a compliment, but at the same time she makes me look like I’m some sort of doctor that is not interested in small stuff. But, I’m like a sponge, kind of just trying to absorb everything in its surroundings.

The book that I’ve been reading lately, it might sound boring, it’s a book by Stephen Hawking, ‘The Answers to the Big Questions’. This is very specific, because I wanted to know about black holes. How do they exist, what does it have to do with gravity? These are kind of the questions that keep me up at night. In terms of series, I’m a little behind on Netflix, but I watched this German series called ‘Dear Child’.”

Thanks Nick, any last words for the fans?

“This is going to sound very far away from the topic, but the situation in the world, it’s really a sad time, and feels like we’re very much living in a sad time that divides us more than all of us want. And without going into details about what and where, I just hope that everybody can find the space to help one another and to find one another. So, that’s a message that I’m trying to spread more and more. We’re living in such a weird and sad time, that I just really hope that people can connect with each other and we can spread some love again and help each other out.”

Make sure to check out the latest from Nicky Romero & TELYKAST x Linney “Desire”, out now on Protocol. Click here to get your tickets for Nicky Romero’s first ever open-to-close show “Nightvision” taking place December 2 at AFAS Live in Amsterdam. Check out the official “Nightvision” trailer and get hyped for the show.

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