Nero, stylized NERO, is a British electronic music trio composed of members Daniel Stephens, Joe Ray and Alana Watson. In August 2011, they released their debut studio album Welcome Reality which reached number one in the UK Albums Chart. In August 2012, "Promises" achieved gold status in the United States. On 10 February 2013, Nero won a Grammy for their collaborative remix of "Promises" with Skrillex.
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.
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.
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. The track had radio airplay in the UK as well as being played by DJs including Chase & Status, Skream, Tiësto and Diplo.
The band are managed by Three Six Zero Group.
Welcome Reality (2010–2012)
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 UK Singles Chart besides peaking at numbers sixteen and eleven on the Dance and Independent charts respectively. On 6 December 2010, Nero was nominated for the BBC's Sound of 2011 poll.
The nomination was followed by the addition of their second single on MTA "Me & You" to BBC Radio 1's A List playlist on 8 December 2010. 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 UK Singles Chart, also managing to reach the number one spot on the independent releases chart. The trio's third single, "Guilt" made its premiere on 22 February when Zane Lowe selected it as the Hottest Record in the World.
On the week ending dated 14 July 2012 "Promises" debuted at number eighty one 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.
Nero composed an orchestral piece known as The Dubstep Symphony (later officially titled 'Symphony 2808'), performed by the duo in collaboration with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Joe Duddell on BBC Radio 1 on 6 June 2011.
The trio toured their live show after the release of their album during Autumn 2011 in both the United Kingdom and United States. 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.
The Skrillex & Nero remix of Monsta's "Holdin On" received its premiere on Zane Lowe's BBC Radio 1 show on 1 October 2012. The remix was featured on Monsta's self-titled EP, released on 23 October 2012.
Their song, "Promises" is featured in the HP television advertisement for their notebooks with Beats Audio in 2012.
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". 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.
Forthcoming second studio album (2013–present)
On 23 April 2013, their track for the soundtrack of the Baz Luhrmann rendition of The Great Gatsby was revealed: "Into The Past".
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." 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."
On 13 May 2014, the album's lead single "Satisfy" premiered on BBC Radio 1 as Zane Lowe's Hottest Record in the World.
As of January 2015, there has not been any update to their website and its message "[...] coming in 2014" remains outdated. Their last tweet was in June 2014. However, 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.
On 19 March 2015, Nero announced they had finished the album, but gave no indication as to when it would be released, along with revealing a new track, "The Thrill".