Clubplanet Interviews NERVO

by Marcos Colón

There's no denying that dance and pop music are being fused now more than ever. While dance music producers were once major behind-the-scenes ingredients for hit records, they've come to the forefront and put a face to a name, and a successful stamp on major hits out today in commercial America. Names like David Guetta and Kaskade are thrown around a lot, but DJ-production duo NERVO have been doing it better than anyone else in their young career, writing massive hits like Guetta's "When Love Takes Over," and their recent single, "We're All No One." They've kept their identity in the shadows of the studio for quite some time, but now you can find them performing on massive festival stages and in DJ booths at some of the world's biggest clubs.

Clubplanet recently sat down with the girls of NERVO between a hectic schedule and chatted about the release of their first music video, their girl-crush on Rihanna, and their feeling on bottle service in the club.

Clubplanet: What’s the icing on the cake so far this year?

Liv: There have been too many highlights. Releasing our first ever record through Astralworks has been a big highlight.

Mim: Getting a video and having it released too. It’s like when you write a song, and you get it mastered, that’s a big part of it. But when you get a video made and you go through the directors and treatments, it’s really just the beginning through the end of it that’s really special.

Liv: Tomorrowland too! Have you seen our picture? [Takes out laptop.] Someone took that picture of us backstage when Afrojack played. Like Mike and Dimitri and us are all up on stage and jumping around. Look at the crowd, can you see?

Mim: There are so many highlights. The Wynn residency was really great for us, as well as the Britney Spears tour and the Identity tour. Britney was such an experience. We’ve grown up on Britney, but never done arena tours. We’ve always done club tours.

Liv: Or festival tours, but this was very different.

Mim: I just feel like we’re learning and experiencing so many things.

Which do you prefer to play? Clubs or these massive festival settings?

Liv: I think they’re so different. When you play at a festival you have an hour set or an hour and a half and it really is about making it a power hour and a half.

Mim: You play hard and you stay hard the entire set, there’s no sort of leeway. Whereas, club sets are more of a journey and it can also be a little more intimate as well because you’ve got people right there by the booth.

Liv: And we’re Australian, so we’ve grown up on festivals. But then we’re clubbers so we love the clubs. I love six-hour sets, and just when you get bored of doing festivals you’re off and you’re doing a three-hour set in the club so they balance each other out. 

Mim: They’re great as well because that means you can play a whole array of music, and you don’t need to just stick to your hour.

Who are the guys in the business that you admire?

I think Joris Voorn is one of the most amazing producers our generation will ever see. He has his own lane.

Liv: It’s classy and it’s sexy, so sexy. I love Steve Lawler sets as well. I love Richie Hawtin. I love Luciano. He blew my mind. I mean Luciano is incredible!

Mim: I saw Luciano a few times and I like it. I like that every set is different.

What’s the club scene like in Australia?

Mim: Australia has the healthiest electronic scene I’ve ever experienced. On the radio they play what would be considered club music here. They play it on normal radio stations in Australia. It’s always been very normal for us. It’s weird when you’re a traveler and you have your hit lists of where you want to go – Ibiza, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome - I think that’s for the clubs that go for like 12 hours. It’s just a clubbing palette. That was really instant love for us when we moved overseas.

Liv: We were writing pop music, because that’s what we got our Ph.Ds in I guess. As a writer you’re never really taught to go into a particular genre of music. You’re told, 'There’s no money in clubs.' So we were doing the more underground records for fun, but we were shooting for the Ke$has or the Rachel Stevens or the Kelly Rowlands - the more poppy artists.

Do you find it tough to balance, because it seems as though you two have a foot in both worlds?

Mim: The thing is we love both and we learn from both. We would be writing pop music five days a week and then going clubbing on the weekend. I just think we’re music addicts. (laughs) I think we love electronic music, but we love constantly being sonically challenged and inspired.

Liv: We found ourselves in this Monday through Friday working situation writing for pop-stars and working on pop projects and certainly on our off time we would be running off to Ibiza, collaborating with a lot more underground DJs, and also hunting out podcasts for more underground DJs. We found ourselves in this world where the DJs really wanted to work with us because they would need something a little more commercial so we would be like 'Dudes, we can write this for you, give us like half a second.' We would love working with them and we would learn a lot from them and they would get us into clubs for free and we’d get VIP.  Then we started thinking, 'Hey, why don’t we just DJ ourselves rather than doing this pop-world that we love and we do, do.' It wasn’t really until David Guetta was nominated for a Grammy for “When Love Takes Over,” which is a song we did that really gave us the confidence to stop being ghostwriters and actually write for ourselves.

Mim: When we did that record we wrote it for Kelly Rowland and we really thought it was a total pop record. But when David called three months later, he’s like 'Girls, I want to release this as my single.' We were like 'Whoa! Is that where David Guetta’s going?'
For your latest single, “We’re All No One,” I think it’s the perfect representation of the fusion between pop and dance music.

What do you have in mind when you go into the studio for something like this?

With that single it was funny the way it came around because it was actually Aoki who gave us that track and we really wanted to collaborate with him. He gave us like ten tracks. We kind of gravitated towards this one because it had a weird techno vibe, so we wrote some lyrics and melodies and fleshed it out and structured it with a pop arrangement. The production wasn’t quite right because it was a little bit sparse at parts and then he suggested that we do it with Nick [Afrojack] and we’re buddies with Nick. He then gets the files and we did some more work, but it still wasn’t right. Then Nick, Mim and I met in LA we didn’t even get a studio, we did it in a hotel and finished it. At the end of it we were really happy. We loved the meaning and thought it was commercial enough to keep these guys on the label happy with us. None of us knew where it fit but everybody wanted their name on it in the end.

I heard there was a possibility of you guys working with Madonna.

Mim and Liv: Yes!

Liv: I don’t think it’s going to happen anymore. It was a track that she really liked of ours. The producer that was executively producing her album pitched it to her and she was going to record it, but I think it’s gone a bit quiet actually. Her album’s closing very soon and we haven’t really heard from them. It’s a really cool record with a cool meaning, so we might just use it for our album.

Do you have a wish-list of people you would like to work with?

Liv: We’re slowly getting through them, but one we’re totally girl-crushing on is Rihanna. I would also love to work with Fatboy Slim. 

Mim: Rihanna because we just think she’s just ridiculously hot, and talented and amazing. Producer-wise I would love to work more with Afrojack. He’s amazing.

The popularity of dance music in the U.S. is at an all-time high at the moment. Do you feel that it’s just a fad, or it’s something that’s actually going to stick?

Mim: I hope it’s not a fad.

Liv: I don’t think dance music will ever be a fad. In America it could be. But, there’s always going to be club culture. I think it will live forever.

Since you guys are big on clubs, what’s your stance on bottle service, seeing as you like your crowd to dance?

Mim: It’s not really for me, I’ve never really done it. It pays our DJ fee, let’s face it.

Liv: Generally the bottle service crowd isn’t there for the music. I will say having been in and played in Vegas where it’s almost all bottle service, everybody loves it. They loved what we play and they reacted. In a way some people criticizing it, but I’ve seen great reaction from it in club you would least expect it.

What’s one of your favorite markets to play in the US?

Liv: I love the Insomniac events. We played at Wonderland last week. Boston was great. You’ve got clubs like Beta in Denver, and that’s a real kind of clubbers club. The Mid in Chicago was really cool - really small, kind of intimate and their all crazy kids.

Mim: It’s really fun doing these kind of festivals/conferences. It’s a good time when everyone gets to hangout. But it’s also really good to educate ourselves on what other DJs are playing often. If you do a tour on your own and your just playing gigs every night, you don’t get to bounce many ideas but these conferences and festivals are amazing for collaborating and educating.

What are you going to wrap up the year with?

Mim: We’re finishing a record with Avicii. We’ve got two records coming out with Avicii. One for his next single, and we’re just ghostwriters on the other. We don’t need to put our names on everything we do. We do come from a behind-the-scenes world, and we’ll continue to do work like that. Sometimes we like to have our names on records, and sometimes we don’t.

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