Electronic trio Nero’s music is set in the year 2808. Wait, let’s back up. The group established their futuristic soundscape in 2011 on their debut LP Welcome Reality (which housed their Grammy-winning tune “Promises“). It was big beat fare mixed with guitar-synth mashups, injected with an undertone of ’80s pop-rock. It was ambitious, as was their three-year, equally conceptual tour that followed.
Today, Nero release Welcome Reality‘s follow-up, Between II Worlds, and they’ve held onto the conceit. Between II Worlds is an equally ambitious, cyber-punk, theatrical experience. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was influenced by the group members’ (Daniel Stephens, Joe Ray and vocalist Alana Watson) love for science-fiction films. In an email, they tell EW about their favorites and how they helped create their musical world below.
2001: A Space Odyssey
“It’s amazing to think that this film was made before man had even journeyed to the Moon. It still stands up today as one of the most visually stunning films ever made. One of the key elements to the film is the soundtrack, which was not commissioned specially but instead made up of contemporary and classical music. The first song we ever released was a drum ‘n’ bass version of Richard Strauss’ ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ – one of the main pieces used in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The György Ligeti works used in the film influenced a passage in our BBC symphony orchestra collaboration ‘Symphony 2808’.”
“Like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner is a visual masterpiece that is focussed more on telling a story through imagery than dialogue. It looked unlike any other film at the time of its release in 1982 and has since become a go-to reference point for many things sci-fi related. We’ve often cited Blade Runner as one of the main influences on our overall aesthetic. Ridley Scott, along with concept artist Syd Mead, created and captured the quintessential dark vision of future urban environments. Vangelis’ soundtrack is an equally important part of the magic of this film. There are few other films in which the visuals and music are in such perfect harmony with one another. He recorded the majority of the score on a synthesiser called a Yamaha CS-80. We managed to buy one a few years back (there were less than 1000 ever made). It has an incredible, vast sound which is unlike any other synthesiser. You can hear the CS-80 throughout our new album (particularly on ‘What Does Love Mean’ in which almost all of the synth parts are CS-80).”
“This was a 1995 film by Kathryn Bigelow, a commercial flop but a bit of a cult-flick now. The setting is an LA falling apart at the turn of the millennium, part Blade Runner dystopia, part contemporary landscape. We love this kind of mix of futurism and current-day realism, it’s central to our aesthetic, visually and musically. We used part of the main character’s dialogue (Ralph Fiennes’ Lenny Nero) at the beginning of our Satisfy Mix.”
“Like Strange Days this is set in a roughly contemporary LA, but essentially in a parallel universe. Brad Fiedel’s score is so central to the film – the epic synth lines of the main theme, the industrial percussion (apparently recordings of him whacking a frying pan), the dark techno bass notes that signal T-1000’s presence. The intro to our track “Etude” was definitely inspired by this score and musical landscape. Also love the fact that music geeks are still debating the time signature of the main theme (13/8?).”
“Ridley Scott was approached to make Blade Runner after making Alien. The main interior set for the spaceship is another big influence for us and a classic example of retro futurism: analogue monitors and control panels with blinking lights amid dark, industrial looking spaceship cockpits. Yet all the time it still looks believably futuristic, even now. Jerry Goldsmith’s score sets a sinister tone. Rather than being focussed on big Hollywood style themes it provides more of an atmosphere throughout the film. H. R Giger’s designs for the Alien and Alien ship are so crucial to the movie. We’ve always been big fans of his work and would’ve loved to have collaborated with him at some point. Sadly he died last year but the alien worlds he created live on.”
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