We talked with Joseph Ray of D&B/dubstep duo Nero (heard of them?) while he was on a train en route to Boston. Ray and Daniel Stephens, along with vocalist Alana Watson, are starting off their “Second Reality” Live tour. I don’t know if anyone’s heard of Nero. First they won 2010′s Beatport Award for Best Dubstep Act, then their Welcome Reality album debuted at #1 and earned gold status in the UK, with singles “Innocence,” “Guilt,” “Promises” speeding straight to the top of UK charts.
Producing remixes for everyone from Daft Punk to Deadmau5 and hitting festivals all over the world, including Glastonbury, Bestival, Reading, and Wireless, before they hit Coachella this year … they made it a point to stop by Boston tonight for a sold out show at House of Blues for Together 2012.
While we strained to hear what he was saying, and Joe apologized for the “bad connection,” we still managed to get most of our chat together… about what it’s like playing at festivals versus clubs, the club scene in London, and what they do to chill out.
Hi Joe! We’re excited to have you in Boston for Together Fest. How are you doing?
I’m just on a train up to Boston now.
Nice! So I went to Fabric a bunch of times when I lived in London for three months, and I know you guys play there a lot… how would you describe a typical night at Fabric to people in Boston who’ve never been there before?
It’s kinda changed a lot. We’d be going out about ten years ago and it was a bit of an older crowd and stuff and now its kind of more younger kids in there. Friday night’s basically the big drum and bass night …and that’s where we kind of started showing people what we were doing. It’s just a really cool venue and one that’s essential to London.
So anyways, so you said that there’s a lot of the younger crowd now into electronic music…a lot of people are saying that electronic music is kind of taking over as mainstream while it used to be more of an underground thing and now there’s thousands of sixteen year olds going to see Deadmau5…What do you think about that kind of thing?
I mean its um, especially in the States it’s been such a big change recently…very different from where we came from.
There there were always young kids going to the raves, that’s what we were doing when we were young. It certainly wasn’t as mainstream.
So I know you guys have been making music together since you were 17. Did you go out to a lot of those raves and stuff when you were younger?
Yeah yeah, we were going to drum and bass things at clubs… like Fabric and stuff. And we would see like those places and wonder what it would be like to be the DJ.
It wasn’t like a huge star DJ thing, it wasn’t like you had to have a look. You were really there to listen to the music.
So how does it feel that you guys are at these giant music festivals? Do you prefer playing in clubs? Is it weird for you that all these kids…you know, you’re on this huge DJ stand a lot of times…what’s the difference to you playing festivals and clubs?
Well we always play the same things but you know, that’s what’s kind of amazing:
that people have been there the whole day and then you go on and attract the crowd in waves.
Daniel Stephens of Nero @ Camp Bisco X, summer 2011. Full coverage here.
And that’s another thing, the diversity of the lineups. You have people there who just kinda stumbled into it and people who usually wouldn’t come much and then yeah club shows can be better in other ways as well … so there’s no straight answer. It’s preference really.
What’s it like looking out at the huge crowd? Do you do that? Do you ever get nervous or anything?
Um for big shows we’re quite nervous before.
We just did a show at Brixton Academy in London, and we actually ended up headlining. It wasn’t just DJing, it was more kind of full show. We were lik it needs to go right. But you have just one chance doing it. You can’t stop and start ,yeah? But yeah we were pretty nervous for that one…But DJ wise not much can go wrong up there. We just try to enjoy it.
So what do you guys do to chill out like between shows? Because you guys are always running around and stuff.
Yeah I mean we had three days off between New York and Boston so I’m coming up to Boston a day early, meet some friends up there…So we’re just gonna hang out. I had a friend in New York who I hung out with yesterday. The more you travel the more you meet people you know and can find your niche place. I used to be really into tourism and seeing places…now I’m kind of more like I want to chillax, find somewhere nice to go eat … and more relaxing. [Laughs]
When did your parents realize that producing music and DJing wasn’t just some hobby you were doing when you were younger and you were actually going to do that for your career? Was that hard to explain to them?
Yeah, it was kinda. It reached a point where I had a job and it was the start of the recession.
So when I said I was going to give my job up they thought I was insane because everyone else was trying to find jobs.
And um yeah they sort of saw it as a hobby but then I was getting more gigs and shows…they realized that I was a huge producer … they were kind of right behind me.
So what are you guys working on these days? Are you making music while you’re travelling around? What’s in your lab these days?
On the tour bus we’ve got a mini DJ set up. Been working on our second album. We cut when we get to hang out… no collaborations, no things like that… just album two.
NERO LIVE @ HOUSE OF BLUES BOSTON TUE 4.3.12. 7PM/18+/SOLD OUT