It’s been a weird few years for all of us here on Planet Earth. However, things are finally starting to get back to normal as all of our favorite festivals are starting to crop back up after more than two years. As great as it is for fans to get back into action, the same goes even more so for the artists that we love to see perform live. As great as the thrill of being in the crowd is to all of us fans, I can’t even imagine the rush of performing on a massive stage in front of 50,000 fans.
After three years away, Ultra Music Festival returned to its rightful home in beautiful Bayside Park in Miami. Just as it was for the fans, it was a cathartic return to this iconic festival for all the artists involved after the long hiatus. One of those artists to return to Ultra a couple of weeks ago was a legendary Dutch DJ/producer Nicky Romero.
To say that Nicky has been busy over the past couple of years would be an understatement. He’s put out a steady stream of releases showingcasing his versatility as a producer including “Why Do I Call”, “Acid is My DNA” and “Okay.” He’s released collabs with Armin van Buuren and W&W, he’s remixed David Guetta & Afrojack’s Grammy-Nominated hit “Hero.” He’s unveiled his side project, Monocule and he’s also released a house EP, “See You on the Dancefloor.” We caught up with Nick after his highlight-filled Ultra set and talked about how it felt to be back, his new sounds, his new dog and much more.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Nick, we appreciate it. The last time we talked was the end of 2019, the world’s a lot different place from what it was back then. Just tell us what you’ve been up to the last couple of years and how have you been redefining your sound?
“I know it’s been a really rough couple of years, but, at the same time I was pretty thankful. Because I had the time to reinvent myself, a lot of records that I really wanted to produce, but I never really had the time for. And, I tried to grow Monocule as a side project. So, it was a really, really tough time, but at the same time, I’m thankful that I was forced to take a step back.”
You’ve done a lot of stuff with Monocule, I really love that sound, and the last couple of tracks you’ve put out, they’ve been more like house vibes tracks. I remember in your Exchange LA set, you played a couple of house tunes, and I was like, oh, this is different. What inspired that, what made you want to do that type of sound?
“It’s the sound I used to do before progressive. So, when I was putting out records in 2010, it was like ‘Play ‘N Stop’, my track called ‘Camorra’, Green Velvet’s ‘Flash’ remix. Back in the day I made much more like tech-ier, groovy records, and people will be like ‘oh that’s a new sound,’ and it’s really not. It’s an old sound, but re-invented.”
You’re back at Ultra for the first time in two years, and it’s going to be the tenth anniversary of Protocol. Can you reflect on that and tell us what it means to be back here in Miami?
“Protocol Recordings was never really intended to turn ten years old, I guess. It just happened. We grew a great platform, I’m super thankful for all the artists that have contributed to the label. It’s not only me, it’s really a teamwork session, and I’m thankful for everyone, the fans have been so amazing. It’s been 10 years of Protocol, but it feels like the years have just flown by. Crazy, at the same time, it’s just a ride that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss in my life. Starting as a platform to put out records for beginning producers, and now, to be so established in the game, is really great.”
You showed up on stage with Timmy Trumpet, surprise to all of us here. Do you guys have anything in the works or is it just because you guys are buddies?
“We put out a record, ‘Falling.’ Maybe this is the start of something new? I have no idea, he’s a good guy, I have a lot of respect for Timmy, cool dude, working hard, good musician, so whenever he asks me for something, I’m really happy.”
Hopefully this is the beginning of tours and festivals being back on a regular basis. Where else will we see you tour this year?
“Probably everywhere, so long as they’re open. All of them; Tomorrowland, Ultra Europe.”
What other tracks are you working on for the rest of the year? Any surprises or collabs?
“I have a lot of collabs. I have a really cool collab coming from Monocule. I can’t say too much about it, but it’s a really big artist that’s also going to contribute something to Monocule. That’s all I can say.”
Coming out of the pandemic and the past couple of years, I feel like dance music came out, still in a good position. What’s your take on the state of the industry and where dance music is headed in the future?
“I have no idea where it is right now, I just know that people want to party. I feel like we’re all in a great place when it comes to all the artists who are so happy to get back on stage. I feel like everyone gets motivated to see the crowd reaction again. Especially Ultra today, it feels like a new start.”
Tell us what’s your favorite part about visiting Miami? What makes Miami stand out?
“Miami feels like a sunny and more Cuban/Spanish, better climate version of our best holiday resort that we have in the Netherlands. It’s like everyone has a chill vibe, good food, it’s sunset, there’s really amazing sunsets here, it just feels like holiday vibes, but on steroids. I wish I could stay two more days.”
Tell me about the new dog!?
“Ravi. Ravi’s really popular, almost 14,000 followers on Instagram, he’s getting more popular than I am.”
Other than working on music, and playing video games during the pandemic. Was there anything else you did that was interesting or a hobby you picked up?
“I love gaming, I love to play Airsoft.”
I’ve heard about that, they did a South Park episode about that.
“I heard about that, I didn’t see it, but I heard. Gaming, demo drop on the first Friday of the month on Twitch. What else do I do? I drive motorcycles. That’s about it for now, I play legos.”
Any other words for the fans?
“I’m just really thankful for everybody that works the Ultra show today. Hopefully people love the sound as much as I do. I wanted to give it a kickstart for the new season, give some love and some faith for the coming year, that everything’s going to be okay, on the largest scale possible. Yeah, I hope to see everyone in their country or their possible range, really, really soon. Stay in good health, stay in good shape, and I’ll see you soon.”
Check out the latest from Nicky Romero, “Lose My Mind”, out now on Protocol. You can also check out Nicky’s full Ultra set as well.