Interview: Nicky Romero Talks Protocol Records And EDM Hate

Features

By: Sarah Polonsky / August 20, 2014

Nicky Romero needs little introduction. The Dutch megastar currently sits at #7 on the DJ Mag Top 100 rankings, had international chart success includes, with “I Could Be The One” and in July slammed into Ultra Europe like some crazed freight train in an explosion of kicks, drops, fire, pitched vocals, possibly lightning honestly we have no idea we were too busy fist pumping and receiving full on tongue kisses from frenzied Croatian girls that comprehensively lost their shit to the man with the funny accent and insane samples. We caught up with him backstage to talk his new Protocol management project, EDM hate and why playing in Croatia trumps Ibiza.

VIBE: You’re a long time producer, DJ, you’re now moving into label and artist management with Protocol – how has that changed your perspective on music?
Nicky Romero: That’s a very good question! I thought for a while in the music scene we were a bit stuck – everyone just tried to put out the same music, and I thought that this would be an opportunity for myself and other people to create a platform for myself and other talent and release music which I thought was good for the scene. Of course I’m trying to connect artists with a certain sound that suited to Protocol but I’d also like to connect as a family. I believe that in itself can add something to the scene – talent acting as a family, rather than individuals, all working together to achieve something.

Afrojack, Avicii- a number of the big EDM players feel EDM needs to change – What’s your take?
I think EDM has gotten so big it’s not going to fall down slowly. But, I’d agree for the most part – there’s too much of the same music, there’s too much hype around the hard kick drums thing, everyone just wants to hop on with that. I think it’s time for people to stand for something different. I think guys like Disclosure and Flume are doing that, are doing something different, in a very creative way. For me it’s meant I’m trying to evolve in a different direction with my forthcoming stuff. It’s not necessarily hard sounding, it’s more musical.

As someone that plays a big mainstream sound – are you cautious about the backlash that sometimes comes with perhaps being known as an “EDM DJ”?
You know I don’t really understand the negativity. If people are negative about music, thats really sad. You’re always allowed your opinion, you can give feedback on a song, and in fact, constructive criticism would be great. Imagine if people were to comment under YouTube videos with “I feel that maybe this element, or X could be done differently.” We would all improve so much as artists! Instead it’s people looking for attention, writing “This song is shit” underneath a YT video does nothing but make the artist feel insecure. It’s just attention seeking.

You’ve just played a supermassive Ultra Europe. Big festivals are kind of your thing – but you’re looking to focus on smaller, emerging artists. So what’s best for electronic music in the long- small organic scenes, or big, uber professional franchises?
The evolution that’s going on in electronic music now, which is not necessarily positive is that certain brands want to own the whole scene, and I don’t think that’s actually healthy for anyone. I really hope there continues to be lots of different things going on, lots of sub-strings, lots of promoters, lots of parties all building stuff rather than one big mainstream. Smaller communities should be left to grow organically, instead of being bought and taken over. That would be best for electronic music going forward.

What are you doing for the rest of 2014?
Try to focus on my health! I’ve been working too hard for the last few years. I’ve taken some time out. But I’ve now restarted back in my studio and I cant wait to put out some songs – I’ve just put out 2 remixes – hopefully I can finish a new album soon and put together a tour.

What would you be if you weren’t a DJ
Probably a police officer, like my dad, and my mum, in fact. Or, working in TV -that’s what I was studying toward before all of this.

By: Ally Byers