Nero (band)

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Nero in 2012
Nero in 2012
Background information
OriginLondon, United Kingdom
Years active2004–present
  • Dan Stephens
  • Joe Ray
  • Alana Watson

Nero (stylised as NERO) are a British electronic music trio composed of members Dan Stephens, Joe Ray and Alana Watson.[1][2] On 12 August 2011, they released their debut studio album, Welcome Reality,[3] which reached number one in the UK Albums Chart.[4] In August 2012, "Promises" received a Gold certification in the United States. On 10 February 2013, Nero won a Grammy Award for their collaborative remix of "Promises" with Skrillex.[5] Their second studio album, Between II Worlds, was released on 11 September 2015.


Ray and Stephens were both born in 1984. Ray grew up in Northwood, London whilst Stephens grew up in Notting Hill. The boys met Watson when they were 18. Ray played classical guitar and Stephens played cello with encouragement from his free-jazz musician father. By the time a mutual friend introduced them at the age of 17, Stephens was attending the specialist music school at Pimlico. Outside school both were making electronic music on home computers. They began working together at 17, setting up a studio in Stephens' bedroom. The latter had already been a fan of jungle music after seeing M-Beat featuring General Levy on Top of the Pops in 1994. Ray's epiphany (according to Q), happened in the London club Fabric where the duo's ideas about producing were cemented.[6]

Nero's debut release was "Space 2001" as part of the "Straight Outta Leicester" three piece vinyl LP on Reformed Recordings in 2004. Watson started featuring on Nero's songs from 2008, namely "Solid Air" (Punchy Recordings) and "This Way" (Audio Freaks) which was their debut dubstep release, and is now a full-time member of the band.

Nero released the EP, 'Requiem', 10 May 2006, predominantly hard drum and bass, which quickly saw their acknowledgement rise within the dance music scene.

Sasha Frere-Jones, journalist for the New Yorker Magazine, listed Nero's remix of The Streets, "Blinded by the Lights" in his top songs of 2009.[7] The track had radio airplay in the U.K. as well as being played by DJs including Chase & Status, Skream, Tiësto and Diplo.

Welcome Reality (2010–2012)[edit]

NERO performing at Camp Bisco X in Mariaville Lake, New York on 9 July 2011.

The trio released their first single on MTA, "Innocence", in the United Kingdom on 26 April 2010. The single was released as a double A-side with the track "Electron" as a digital download, as well as on vinyl. The track peaked at number one hundred and sixty seven on the U.K. Singles Chart besides peaking at numbers sixteen and eleven on the Dance and Independent charts respectively. In November 2010, Nero unveiled their BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix. The mix went on to extreme critical acclaim and has been widely regarded as "The Greatest BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix of All Time".[8] The mix was recorded at the height of the dubstep popularity and features a wide variety of genres such as; Drum and Bass, French House, Dubstep and Electronica. The 2010 Nero Essential Mix also later became a talking point on 4 September 2015 as there was a wide debate upon Reddit users on 'the best Essential Mix of all time'.[9] On the website, users had a heavy favour of the mix (slightly edging out Zeds Dead in second place)[9] even though it was recorded 5 years earlier, furthermore, it received the publicly voted awards of "Greatest Essential Mix of All Time" and "Fan Favorite Essential Mix"[8] On 6 December 2010, Nero was nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2011 poll.[10]

The nomination was followed by the addition of their second single on MTA "Me and You" to BBC Radio 1's A List playlist on 8 December 2010.[citation needed] The single was released in the United Kingdom as both a digital download and a 12" vinyl on 2 January 2011, where it debuted at number fifteen on the U.K. Singles Chart, also managing to reach the number one spot on the independent releases chart.[citation needed] The trio's third single, "Guilt" made its premiere on 22 February when Zane Lowe selected it as the Hottest Record in the World.[11]

On the week ending dated 14 July 2012 "Promises" debuted at number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, which marked their first single to chart in the United States. Their debut album entitled Welcome Reality was released on 15 August 2011 and debuted at number one in the UK Albums Chart.[citation needed]

Nero composed an orchestral piece known as The Dubstep Symphony (later officially titled 'Symphony 2808'), performed by the band in collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Joe Duddell on BBC Radio 1 on 6 June 2011.[12]

The trio toured their live show after the release of their album during Autumn 2011 in both the United Kingdom and United States.[13] In early 2012, the trio toured their live show entitled 'Second Reality Tour' across Australia, the United Kingdom and North America. Nero declined touring as a support act for Madonna's MDNA Tour over the summer, as they felt that they needed to spend much more time in the studio.[citation needed]

The Skrillex & Nero remix of Monsta's "Holdin On" received its premiere on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on 1 October 2012.[14] The remix was featured on Monsta's self-titled EP, released on 23 October 2012.[15]

Their song, "Promises" is featured in the HP television advertisement for their notebooks with Beats Audio in 2012.[16]

On 22 October 2012, their debut album was re-released as Welcome Reality +. It features two extra tracks, "Won't You (Be There)" and "Etude", along with the Skrillex & Nero remix of "Promises".[17] An EP of "Won't You (Be There)" was released on the same day, featuring the original alongside "Etude" and remixes from Baauer and Club Cheval.[18]

Between II Worlds (2013–2016)[edit]

On 23 April 2013, their track for the soundtrack of the Baz Luhrmann rendition of The Great Gatsby was revealed: "Into The Past".[19]

On 12 November 2013, a 28-minute ambient piece was posted to their SoundCloud, along with the words "Sorry to have left you in the dark for so long. The second album is coming in 2014."[20] On 24 December 2013, in an interview with Vh1 India, Nero revealed that the track was actually a 3-minute ambient song looped on purpose to be 28 minutes and 8 seconds long to reveal the number 2808 – a number frequently associated with Nero, which is the title of the first track on Welcome Reality."[21]

On 13 May 2014, the album's lead single "Satisfy" premiered on BBC Radio 1 as Zane Lowe's Hottest Record in the World.[22]

In February 2015 the band's record label MTA Records posted a picture of a tweet by Stuart Hawke stating that he had just started mastering the new album by Nero.[23] On 19 March 2015, Nero announced they had finished the album, and premiered its second single, "The Thrill".[24] The single was released on 20 March 2015 alongside remixes by Porter Robinson, TCTS, René LaVice and KANT.[25]

On 10 April, it was announced that the album is called Between II Worlds, and it would be released on 28 August 2015 (coinciding with their recurring use of the number '2808') but the release date was later delayed to 11 September. The album was made available to pre-order on the same day, with "Satisfy" and the title track offered as an instant grat for those who pre-order a copy.[26][27] The album features a reworked version of "Into the Past", from The Great Gatsby soundtrack.[26] "Two Minds" was released as the album's third single on 11 September 2015. "Into the Night" was released as the fourth single from Between II Worlds on 8 January 2016.

Side projects and new material (2016–present)[edit]

Group members Dan Stephens and Alana Watson got married in December 2015. They announced in June 2017 that they were expecting a baby and that Alana would not be resuming her touring duties until the baby's arrival in 2018.[28]

NERO focused more on side projects after the release of Between II Worlds. This was done to destress from the sudden popularity of their second album and subsequent creative pressure to deliver on the followup. Joe Ray launched a solo project in 2017, while Stephens and Watson announced a new electronic pop project The Night in March 2018. During promotion for The Night, Stephens and Watson clarified that Nero was still active alongside the side projects, with new music in the works.[29][30]

In 2021 during the lead-up to the 10th Anniversary of Welcome Reality, the debut album, the band released three remixes of classics from Daft Punk, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Disciples after a nearly two year silence. [31]

Other works[edit]

In December 2012, the band produced the song "Follow Me", for the British rock band Muse.[32] The song's instrumental version (without vocals) was later used in the soundtrack of the 2013 blockbuster film World War Z, in the end credits.[33]

In December 2018, the song "Lullaby" was released on the compilation album Ninjawerks: Vol. 1 under the record label Astralwerks in collaboration with American Twitch streamer Ninja.


Studio albums

Awards and nominations[edit]

Grammy Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2013 "Promises" (Skrillex & Nero Remix) Best Remixed Recording, Non - Classical Won
Dubstep Music Awards North America
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2012 Nero Best International Dubstep Act Won
Ivor Novello Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 "Promises" Best Contemporary Song Nominated
Q Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 Nero Best New Act Nominated
Dubstep Music Awards (UK)
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 Welcome Reality Best Album Won
Drum & Bass Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 Nero Best Dubstep Producers Won
Nero Best Dubstep DJs Won
Beatport Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2010 Nero Best Dubstep Act Won
"Act Like You Know" Best Dubstep Track Won


  1. ^ "Nero Bio, Music, News & Shows". Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  2. ^ "The Voice of Nero – Interview With Vocalist Alana Watson". 26 March 2012.
  3. ^ "iTunes - Music - Welcome Reality by Nero". 12 August 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  4. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  5. ^ "The 55th Annual Grammy Awards". The 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  6. ^ Stubbs, Dan. Q magazine. December 2011. They Came From Outta Bass. pp 88-92.
  7. ^ Frere, Sasha (1 August 2011). "Sasha Frere-Jones: The Best Recordings of 2009: Annotated Version". The New Yorker. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  8. ^ a b "Reddit users are debating the best Essential Mix of all time". inthemix. 4 September 2015. Archived from the original on 25 November 2015. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  9. ^ a b "What's your favorite Essential Mix? • r/electronicmusic". reddit. Retrieved 26 September 2017.[self-published]
  10. ^ BBC. "Sound of 2011 - Nero". Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  11. ^ BBC. "Hottest Record in the World - 22 February 2011". Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  12. ^ "BBC Philharmonic". Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  13. ^ "Nero announce their first live show and confirm Tinie Tempah support". Archived from the original on 1 September 2011. Retrieved 1 December 2011.
  14. ^ "me and nero..." Facebook. 1 October 2012.[self-published]
  15. ^ "MONSTA - Holdin On (Skrillex & Nero Remix) by weareMONSTA on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free". SoundCloud. 1 October 2012.[self-published]
  16. ^ "HP® Official Store - Laptops, Tablets, PCs, Monitors, Servers, Printers, and more". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  17. ^ "Exclusive: Interscope To Re-Release Nero's 'Welcome Reality' With New Tracks, Skrillex Remix of 'Promises'". Billboard. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  18. ^ "iTunes - Music - Won't You (Be There) [Remixes] - EP by Nero". iTunes. 22 October 2012.
  19. ^ "SoundCloud - Nero - Into The Past". SoundCloud. 23 April 2013.[self-published]
  20. ^ "UPDATE by Nero". SoundCloud. 12 November 2013.[self-published]
  21. ^ "Get to Know: Nero". VH1 India. 24 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Nero's new single, Satisfy". 12 May 2014.
  23. ^ "MTA Records".[self-published]
  24. ^ "Nero's Album news and new single, The Thrill". 19 March 2015.
  25. ^ "iTunes - Music - The Thrill - Single by Nero". iTunes. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  26. ^ a b "iTunes - Music - Between II Worlds by Nero". iTunes. 28 August 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015.
  27. ^ Nero (10 April 2015). "NERO - BETWEEN II WORLDS. THE ALBUM. 28.08". Facebook.[self-published]
  28. ^ McCarthy, Will. "Nero's Alana Watson and Dan Stephens are having a baby". Dancing Astronaut. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  29. ^ "In Conversation: Catching up with Nero". fabric blog. Fabric London. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  30. ^ Jenkins, Dave. "Everything You Need To Know About The Night". UKF. AEI Group LTD. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  31. ^ "NERO continue to stack unreleased edits—stream their spin on Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax' - Dancing Astronaut NERO continue to stack unreleased edits—stream their spin on Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax'". Dancing Astronaut. 31 March 2021. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  32. ^ Kitty Empire. "Muse: The 2nd Law – review". the Guardian.
  33. ^ "Muse's Matt Bellamy reveals his son's heartbeat will feature on 'The 2nd Law'". NME.

External links[edit]