Saturday Night Session 019: Nicky Romero discusses how Protocol Recordings empowers his creativity and talks staying balanced despite a near constant life on the road
Few artists have the ability to represent a genre with a simple mention of their name, but when it comes to Nicky Romero, over a decade of producing upbeat progressive house anthems has made the producer’s moniker seemingly synonymous with the genre. While Romero started producing in the early 2000’s, he recalls the moment he realized he ‘made it’ as a music producer.
Romero notes, “‘My Friend’ was the breakout moment for me when I really started getting attention on an international level followed by ‘Toulouse,’ but the game changer was ‘I Could Be The One,’ which I made with Avicii. Working with Tim on that record was a transformative experience, and I’m grateful for the time we had creating together.”
“I Could Be The One” catapulted Romero into international notoriety and gave him the platform to reach a mass audience, and this reach coincided with a fundamental shift in dance music itself. Progressive house peaked from 2010-2013, and from there, the sub-genre played an integral role in the commercialization of dance music. Progressive House allowed for big-name pop artists to come in and be vocalists on electronic music backdrops that were likable to global and commercial audiences. Romero’s own music evolved during this transition, and he has found a way to balance producing mainstage worthy electronic releases while also producing music that could just as easily belong on a top 40 radio station.
Embracing this shift in dance music has enabled Romero to remain at the forefront of the genre for over five years and counting, and he shows no signs of slowing down. When asked about how he manages to balance touring and releasing a steady stream of music over such a long span of time, Romero notes, “It’s not easy. I have a great team that works day and night to keep everything on track. Guarding my rest and health is what keeps me going as well. It’s important to find a balance and remember that there must be time for life as well. Touring and travel has allowed me to see the world, but I also cherish the moments at home with my family and friends.”
In addition to releasing his own music, Romero is label head and founder of Protocol Recordings, one of the most impactful labels for dance music as it stands. Record deals, management, and a multitude of other factors make the music world a tricky one. Romero’s favorite thing about running Protocol is that the label is an outlet for him to bypass what can be an admittedly complicated world and release what he feels passionately about, whether the music is his own or another artist’s.
He elaborates on this, noting, “We get to release the music we want without restrictions. When we find an artist we’re passionate about or I produce a record I’m in love with, we don’t need to ask for approvals or waste time. We just release it to the world.”
Romero put together a high energy hour long Saturday Night Session mix, which is the best representation of the producer’s ability to float between hard-hitting and festival-ready tracks alongside smooth vocal driven releases. He tries to tell a different story through each of his sets, and the mix certainly does just that in order to get listeners’ ready for their Saturday night.
PC: Darryl Adelaar
You have been releasing music now for over a decade. Are any of your track’s particularly personal to you or stand out to you as being one of your favorites above the rest?
“My Friend” was the breakout moment for me when I really started getting attention on an international level followed by “Toulouse,” but the game changer was “I Could Be The One,” which I made with Avicii. Working with Tim on that record was a transformative experience, and I’m grateful for the time we had creating together.
You produce everything from mainstage electronic tracks to commercial crossover releases to working with big-time acts like Rihanna. Do you have a specific genre of music you prefer producing?
Progressive house will always be my starting point but I’ve loved experimenting and pushing my boundaries over the years. Its tough to put yourself in a creative box and only stick to certain forms of music. I find it challenging and exciting to push my limits.
What is your favorite part about running the label?
We get to release the music we want without restrictions. When we find an artist we’re passionate about or I produce a record I’m in love with, we don’t need to ask for approvals or waste time. We just release it to the world.
Is there any part of you that still gets nervous for big performances or studio sessions with other high profile artists? Or have you been doing this for long enough now that it is all standard and just another day on the job?
Of course, that is being human. Festivals still give me a rush and I hope that is a feeling that never goes away. I feel most alive when I’m on the stage playing my songs for fans that have given me so much support over the years.
The amount of music you put out is incredibly impressive. How do you balance it all? Running a label; touring; putting out new originals and remixes; and theoretically having time for a personal life as well?
It’s not easy. I have a great team that works day and night to keep everything on track. Guarding my rest and health is what keeps me going as well. It’s important to find a balance and remember that there must be time for life as well. Touring and travel has allowed me to see the world, but I also cherish the moments at home with my family and friends.
You’ve got a lot of great shows coming up this summer including your performance at Laroc Club – how much do you enjoy playing in front of a Brazilian crowd?
The fans in Brazil are some of the most supportive in the world. It’s such a beautiful country and I’m always welcomed with open arms. I cannot wait to be back.
What kind of a Saturday Night is your Saturday Night Session going to get listener’s ready for?
I try to tell a story in my sets and keep the momentum going while still allowing the listener to experience different emotions through the music.