UP 5

“Melodic progressive house.”
Best known for:
“Founding Protocol Recordings, ‘Toulouse’, ‘I Could Be The One’ with Avicii.”
Tune of the year:
“Elderbrook ‘Numb (Joris Voorn Remix)’.”
From: The Netherlands
Rising star DJ/producer of 2021: “Tim van Werd.”
Nicky Romero used the extra time at home during the last year to work on giving something back. He launched Demo Drop sessions on Twitch, where he sits down with Protocol’s A&R Director Jorik van de Pol to give feedback, live on the spot. “It allows me to flex different muscles in production and music discovery, as sometimes the process of explaining things to others can be the best way to reinforce your skills and discover new ones,” says the Dutch star, who admits to being an avid gamer. “I’ve really enjoyed jumping into the gaming community and making so many incredible new friends across the world.”
Next to this, he’s enjoyed spending extra time with friends and family as well as in the studio. A result of that is his new side-project Monocule, for deeper sounds. “Experimentation is part of growth and it’s always good to try something completely new to stay inspired,” he says. Next year is all about the 10th anniversary of his Protocol Recordings label, so keep your eyes out for lots of celebrations.
How was your first gig back after lockdown? 
“It was an amazing feeling to be back on the road for my US tour back in July. Performing after that long hiatus initially felt a bit unusual, but at times it was better than ever.”
How have the last 18 months changed how you view your work/life balance?
“I spent a lot of my time working out, gaming, and focusing on my personal relationships.”
What further steps should the industry take to combat climate change?
“Touring artists and their teams should always pay attention to smart planning of their tours, ie. to avoid unnecessary back-and-forth flights.”
What’s the best bit of tech you’ve added to your studio or DJ setup this year?
“Dangerous BAX EQ. Studio gear nerds know what is up with this beast.”
What’s the best album you’ve heard this year?
“Bicep’s ‘Isles’ is off the hook!”