Nero – Welcome Reality
This month’s selection is by Alain Dupuis.
I’m a fan of a lots of different musical genres, but I’ve always found it difficult to get into electronic music. I like the occasional “bro-step” song by artists like Skrillex, and I don’t mind the odd Deadmau5 song, but generally speaking, I find electronic music – particularly EDM (Electronic Dance Music) – a bit repetitive, inhuman, and lacking any sort of meaningful message or soul. But perhaps I’ve been a bit too closed minded to an entire category of music.
This is where I introduce Joe Ray, and couple Dan Stephens and Alana Watson, whom together make up the British electronic music trio, NERO.
Joe and Dan were introduced through a mutual friend in 2001, when they were 17. They both enjoyed playing instruments and were interested in making electronic music on their computers, so they had a lot in common. They began working together, setting up a studio in Stephens’ bedroom. The duo released their first song shortly after. They met Alana Watson the following year, though she didn’t start contributing her vocal talents to Nero’s music until 2008.
Throughout the first decade of the 2000s, NERO released a number of singles, remixes, and a drum n’ bass EP which helped them gain clout in EDM circles. It wasn’t until the release of their 2011 debut album, Welcome Reality, that the trio began to enjoy a more mainstream success. This album marked a shift from their predominantly drum n’ bass style to something that sounds an awful lot like dubstep, which at the time, was quickly growing in popularity worldwide thanks to mainstream artists like Skrillex and Deadmau5. The 14 track concept album stabs at taking listeners on an adventure to explore what’s left of civilization in the year 2808.
Welcome Reality reached a peak position of number one on the weekly UK Albums Chart, and equally high on the UK Dance Albums Chart. It also cracked the top 10 U.S. dance charts. Reviews of the album were mixed, but generally favourable. The album featured a number of singles, including ‘Innocence’, ‘Me and You’, and ‘Promises’. Alongside the trio’s commercial and critical success, NERO would go on to win several awards including a Grammy for their collaborative remix of ‘Promises’ with Skrillex. Eventually, Welcome Reality would reach gold status in 2015, selling 120,000 copies in the US. While I can’t find any more recent sales figures, I can tell you that NERO gets about 1,375,000 monthly listeners on Spotify, so it’s safe to say they aren’t a flash in the pan.
So friends, this month, let’s dive into the electronic world of Welcome Reality, and see if we can unpack what the year 2808 holds in store for us through the eyes of NERO. Check out our impressions and review at the end of the month.