Label parties are an integral part of the Amsterdam Dance Event and offer imprints a coveted opportunity to present their artists. But despite its enormous importance in the local Dutch music scene, Nicky Romero's Protocol Recordings had yet to host their own label party at the ADE.
worldmusic.blog sat down with Romero and Protocol A&R Director Jorik Van de Pol to discuss the milestone for the record label and to learn about the DJ's various other projects.
worldmusic.blog: Nicky, how are you feeling tonight?
Nicky Romero: I feel good. I'm a little – I don't want to say nervous – but kind of excited. All of my friends and family are here. Literally all of my close friends and the people who mean a lot to me are here and usually it's pretty professional when you play a show, but here it's also emotional because of all of these people who mean so much to me and my personal life.
So it connects business with my real life, and that's what makes it so exciting. This show means a lot to me not only as an artist, but also as a person.
worldmusic.blog: You are the hometown hero for sure!
I don't want to say that, but at least I feel like these are the people who are important to me. And I want to do my best
worldmusic.blog: That's nice. I am happy that I can just sit in the background and enjoy.
Protocol comes to 10 years. Can you tell me how it has turned out over the past ten years? And what are your plans to celebrate the milestone?
Nicky Romero: I mean, we're sitting here next to one of my friends with whom I founded the label at the time. He's actually one of my close friends, Jorik.
It actually started out as a platform to make sure you could make your own decisions and not have to wait for artwork and release dates and the like to be approved. To see this now, and how it is a completely independent platform for other artists and a good home for those who are starting to produce and write songs, is amazing. It really feels like family now, and there is something very special to realize that it was once a baby and is now a 10 year old child to talk to and be independent. It doesn't need your help anymore, which is really great.
worldmusic.blog: Speaking of artist labels compared to a major label: Why is it important when you come into a certain position as an artist to have your own label and not rely on the universals and Sonys of the world?
Nicky Romero: Well, I'm grateful to the major labels because they can really make your record hit on different levels, but I think we're almost reaching the maximum that an independent label can achieve. And I really think that the mix between the majors and the independents can be great.
So I'm glad that Protocol is now where it is. At the same time we also do singles with Universal and learn a lot from them – by working together you can get amazing results. Without them we wouldn't be able to take a single to certain places and without us they wouldn't have the content they have now so it's a really great collaboration.
worldmusic.blog: "I Could Be The One" is celebrating its tenth anniversary. What is it like to have a generation anthem that people will remember forever and how does Avicii inspire you to this day?
Nicky Romero: "I Could Be The One" started out as a track we did for fun. It wasn't exactly like, "Hey, let's officially work together."
I just flew to Stockholm and we were hanging out in the studio. We never used to think that it would be such an iconic track. It comes as a surprise to me – and probably to you too – to see this record become so iconic. The same goes for “Toulouse.” When you create something like this, you're so close to the record that you don't see what it means for others, let alone for the industry.
To be honest, I never felt that way. It happened to me as much as it happened to you, and all I can say is that I'm grateful that it became so popular.
worldmusic.blog: Let's talk about Monocule, your side project for the deeper sounds. Why did you start doing it, why is it important to you and why do you think so many artists have aliases and side projects?
Nicky Romero: I think one of the most important reasons is that they have the freedom to do what they want. I mean, sometimes I produce a song and I have no idea where I'm going tonally, so now I can work on it without having to let go of it because it doesn't match the Nicky Romero sound.
And that's why I made Monocule: I can just put the deeper sounds there. I don't have to think about being a mainstage artist, I just have to think about what I want to produce for this act. And that's why I think other people create aliases too. Since you don't have to steer in a certain direction with them, it's like a free run.
worldmusic.blog: Can you tell us something about what's coming up for the Monocule project?
Nicky Romero: We're not as planned with Monocule as we are with Nicky Romero, but I can say we have an EP that is really cool. We have a working relationship with a guy named Lamas. Jorik and I do the demo drop every first Friday of the month on Twitch listening to beginner producers and artists.
He contributed this great song and we started working on it with Monocule and that created this new collaboration which is also the first official collaboration we did due to Twitch and the demo drop. That becomes part of the EP and then there are two more songs on the B and C sides.
worldmusic.blog: You are also very interested in gaming and esports and you recently invested in ReKTGlobal. Where do your passions for music and gaming intersect and why is gaming important to you?
Nicky Romero: I don't know if it necessarily crosses, to be honest. It's just another hobby I have and I am happy to share this hobby with others.
The only thing it has in common is the fact that we do the demo drop – then gaming and music really come together. All of the other streams and things I do with games are just a hobby that turned into a business, but it doesn't necessarily have to work with music. It's just another side of me that is like the side of us that we love to play indoor soccer. It has nothing to do with music. But this one seems to fit, and that's why I really like the fact that many Nicky Romero fans also enjoy watching the stream.
worldmusic.blog: Talk to us about Instigate Studios.
Nicky Romero: Well, back then I made my records for the first three to four years in my own bedroom in my parents' house and then moved into a studio called White Villa. There I learned that having a separate room for your studio is really great for your creativity. You can do what you want, you can play as loud as you want, you don't have to think about neighbors. And that's when I realized that one day I would like to have my own studio.
And the moment we started our own studio, I realized, "Hey, there's room for a few more, why don't I do the same thing the other guy did for me when I went to White Villa Studios ? " So we created extra space to let more producers work, whether they were working for me, for the studio, or for themselves.
I just wanted to create a hub for young creatives who want to express themselves. I learn from them every day and they learn from me too. In this way we motivate each other and that is the whole goal of Instigate. You want to share and create a passion. Everything has to be in the box – we can do everything in the studios, mix, master, record, even master classes, completely independently. I think that's what Instigate stands for.
Check out Nicky Romero's latest single below, a tech house hit called "Acid Is My DNA".
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