Last year Nicky Romero gatecrashed the DJ Mag Top 100 chart as one of the highest new entries ever, scoring the number 17 slot having come from pretty much nowhere. Now the one-time protege of David Guetta finds himself in some rather privileged circles. As DJ Mag hooks up with him, he's just back from a production 'camp', working on Rihanna's new album, alongside Monsieur Guetta.
“We made two records for her for the 'Unapologetic' album, and now we're working on follow-ups for her next album,” he says in a rather matter-of-fact fashion. This is now what his work day involves. “She's amazing, a super-nice, super-professional artist. She knows what she wants and I have a huge respect for her. 100 percent.
I was a little nervous in the beginning, but she took that right away. She hugged everyone in the studio and was just a really nice, humble person.”</span><br /><span style="font-size: small;"></span></p><p><span style="font-size: small;">And, of course, if you just happen to be in the studio with Rihanna, other famous artists have a habit of just dropping by. “Ha! Yes,” he says. “Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas, a lot of writers like Ester Dean, Taio Cruz. It was called 'writer's camp', so there were a lot of artists around that week. I was really happy to be part of that.”
It must seem bizarre that even as recently as 2011, no one much had heard of Nick Rotteveel from Amerongen in the Netherlands, and that now he's writing music for arguably the biggest urban artist on the planet. How things change. “I just try to think about what I have yet to do,” he says. “But I totally appreciate the things we've achieved so far. The moment you think you've 'made it', that's the moment you start to go downhill.”
His label Protocol Recordings launched with a bang last year, featuring his collaborations with Calvin Harris and Nervo, and he's continued to keep up the pressure in his new A& ;R role, signing tracks from John Dahlback and Vicetone. But soon it will be his debut album that will require his full, undivided focus.
He's lining up people to help him out right now; Guetta, obviously, Harris, Matthew Koma, British singer Foxes, who featured on Zedd's track 'Clarity', Noonie Bao, Tommy Trash and Nervo.“The most exciting thing will be to make it something that people can listen to, not just to dance to,” he says. “For me Rudimental's album 'Home' is the perfect example. It was an inspiration. But the most exciting thing for me will be to make a record that isn't dance and for that to be the listened to track on the album, the one that is everyone's favourite. That's the challenge I'm working on right now. I have a first draft done, and it's more like indie-pop, about 70 bpm.” If there's a time that he's earned some self-indulgence, it's now.