20 Questions With Nicky Romero: How the Dutch Producer Has Stayed Busy During Quarantine

Nicky Romero
Kevin Anthony Canales

Nicky Romero

While Nicky Romero is currently hanging out in Ibiza, the only shows he's playing this summer are happening on the internet.

Tomorrow (July 16), the Dutch producer will debut his Another World livestream concept, which will take place in front of a giant green screen and transport viewers, along with Romero himself, to an immersive audiovisual virtual landscape where fans can experience the larger than life music that's made Romero one of the world's leading names in mainstage banging EDM. The event happens via Romero's YouTube at 12 p.m. PT / 3 p.m. ET.

Another World comes on the heels of "I Need You To Know," a collaboration with fellow Dutch icon Armin van Buuren that dropped via Armada on July 10. Romero's own label, Protocol Recordings, also celebrated its 200th release this summer. Indeed, in a moment where many DJs -- and many of us in general -- have enjoyed more downtime than usual, Romero has kept busy, but has still found time for beach hangs and BBQs.

Here, he talks about growing up with cops for parents, the Swedish House Mafia song he wishes he'd produced and the time he played the soundtrack to a marriage proposal.

1. Where are you in the world right now, and what's the setting like?

Currently, I'm blowing off some steam with my friends in Ibiza. The last few months were pretty hectic, even without touring. Ibiza is now very calm, as the club events and parties are not taking place, so it's all about food, friends and recharging batteries.

2. What is the first album or piece of music you bought for yourself, and what was the medium? 

It was one of Michael Jackson's albums on a cassette. After this, my dad took me to one of his concerts! Memories for life.

3. What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid, and what do they think of what you do for a living now?

When I was a kid, both of my parents were police officers. A few years ago my dad has quit his job at the police department and joined the Nicky Romero/Protocol Recordings team. He helps us with different aspects at the company.

4. What was the first song you ever made?

That's an interesting one, because one of my first tracks that I ever made was a funny remake of the theme song of "Dino Babies" -- a cartoon series with dinosaurs starring in it, that I used to watch when I was a kid.

5. If you had to recommend one album for someone looking to get into dance music, what would you give them?

I still love David Guetta's Nothing But The Beat. An amazing body of work consisting of many incredible electronic records, from hard club bangers to emotional anthems like "Titanium."

6. What's the first thing you bought for yourself when you started making money as a DJ?

A new Mac Pro to shift from Windows to OSX! I still have that computer at home as a memory.

7. What's the last song you listened to?

That's "Be Alright" from Marc Benjamin & Timmo Hendriks. I really love that record; we released it on Protocol this year.

8. What's one song you wish you had produced?

Swedish House Mafia's "Save The World" or Sebastian Ingrosso & Tommy Trash's "Reload." Both have all the right ingredients that I love about electronic dance music: amazing hooks, great vocals and it hits you right in the feels, especially when playing it out loud in clubs or at festivals.

9. How are you filling your time during quarantine?

Spending a lot of quality time with friends and family. I love to BBQ using my GreenEgg when the weather is right or driving my motorcycle to switch off the world for a while. Also, I'm really getting into gaming and trying to learn more about Twitch and the whole eSports industry.

10. What's distinctive about the place you grew up, and how did it shape you?

I lived in Canada back in the day for a few years, but then moved back to The Netherlands. I grew up in Amerongen, a small town near Utrecht. Many creatives and musically talented people comes from that area, so this had a positive impact on my interests in music.

11. What's the first dance music show that really blew your mind?

I remember Fedde Le Grand's set from Ultra Music Festival in Miami, where he shared the stage with David Guetta and Carl Cox. The crowd went nuts when he dropped "Put Your Hands Up For Detroit." That was one of my most memorable moments watching a show.

12. Who's your favorite DJ?

Carl Cox is one of my favorite DJs. The energy he gives to the crowd is on another level. Hats off to Carlito!

13. What is the first thing you do when you get back to your hotel room after a show?

Order some food! I love to get some bites when we are on our way back from a show. Burning a lot of calories during performances means you have to complete the deficiency later to stay healthy.

14. What is the craziest thing you've ever seen happening in the crowd during one of your sets?

Well, it's not really that crazy but more emotional, I'd say. A guy approached me during a show in the U.S. with the question if he could propose to his girlfriend during the breakdown of my song "I Could Be The One" with Avicii. So this happened, and she said "Yes." I know they are still happy in love together! It gives me so much energy whenever I think I'm part of their happiness.

15. Your label, Protocol Recordings, recently celebrated its 200th release. What's the most challenging part of running a label?

One of the biggest challenges is to find talent with fresh sounds that are not a copy-paste of something that already exists. It's very easy to start a DJ/producer career nowadays with all the sample packs, tutorials, and home studio equipment, but this also results in a lot of people getting lazy. Scouting and finding the right people who bring something new to the table is the most challenging part.

16. You're big into eSports. What's your sport of choice, and what's been your biggest victory?

Most of the time I play Call Of Duty: Warzone with my friends or pro-gamers friends from the British team Royal Ravens. Earlier this year in February I traveled to London to support them during their inaugural match of the Call Of Duty League. While I was there I joined MadCat for a crazy hype battle against Censor and Jamaal Lascelles. I smoked them out and had the final kill in a full arena of spectators.

17. What's the longest period of time you've ever spent playing video games?

I think it was during a LAN party back in the days. Chips, cola and Counter Strike for 16 hours straight!

18. What do you miss most about festival season?

I miss the fans and the atmosphere. I miss hugging my colleagues and all the positive energy.

19. What do you miss least about festival season?

That's an easy one: traveling!

20. One piece of advice you'd give to your younger self?

Let's go, and keep moving forward.

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