NERVO on making hip-hop and collaborating with Kylie

Twin sisters Liv and Mim NERVO started out as pop songwriters, transitioning into DJing and production after they wrote a little tune called When Love Takes Over in collaboration with Kelly Rowland and David Guetta in 2009.

Collaborations have remained a central part of what they do, with names like Nicky Romero, R3hab, Hook N Sling, Afrojack, and Dmitri Vegas recurring throughout their discography. When inthemix caught up with Liv Nervo, she told us that the album they’re getting ready to release includes plenty more of those, including a song that features both Kylie Minogue (who they worked with previously on her 2011 single Put Your Hands Up) and Jake Shears from the Scissor Sisters.

Though they’re currently based in London and spend a chunk of each year at Ibiza, where they have a regular residency, NERVO return home to Australia whenever they can, and will be back for Stereosonic this weekend.

Can you tell me what you’re working on at the moment?

Yeah, we’ve finished our album so there’s little things. We’ve just signed a new deal with Ultra and Sony so they’re bouncing back ideas now and saying “we want to do little tweaks”, so we’re doing the final touches on records that we haven’t looked at for over a year.

And then we’re also writing a bit more, today we’re working on another collab that we’ve done with Nicky Romero. It’s taken a while for us to get back in the studio, but we met in Amsterdam over the summer and started off an idea so now it’s up to all of us to finish off our ideas, but hopefully we’ll come back together and it’ll be done soon.

What’s it like to have to come back to something after a little while away? A fresh pair of eyes is good, but then you just see all of the flaws.

We call it “fresh listen”. We find it really important when we come back to a session, we open it up and normally that initial idea or that initial feeling is what we go off. If we think it’s really good and worth pursuing then we do, if we think it needs work then we crack on or if we should just forget about it then we also do that. It can be disruptive but I think it can also be very helpful as well because when you’re working on something – at least this is what we seem to have – we really love it!

We might be working on something for two days straight and almost give ourselves a false sense of security that it’s really good, it’s sounding banging and it’s often when you walk away and you come back that you hear a different thing. I think it brings a whole new perspective to the work. It can take longer, though. The process does take longer when you’re bouncing around having to finish things off over time.

That initial rush of creativity, it feels great but it’s not always the most objective.

Yeah, tell me about it! You just summed it up in one sentence. Spot the journo!

So the album, how did it feel to finish it?

It felt really good. It was a bit of a battle with our last record deal so we were in a stalemate, we had a lot of these records for a long time and it just feels nice to be able to pop them all together. We’ve got some great features on it. We’ve got Kylie Minogue and Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters on a duet, Nicky Romero’s featuring on the album, so is Steve Aoki and Afrojack, but that’s on a record we’ve already released called We’re All No One.

What else can I tell you? We’ve got a pretty cool rap tune, one that Ultra want us to change a little in the production so we’re working on that right now. That’s featuring Kreayshawn and Dev, so it’s quite eclectic. That’s the best part about an album, is that it can show different sides. You don’t just have to make dancefloor bangers that we know have to suit our sets. We’re hoping to not release some of these songs as singles but just have them out in the stratosphere.

What was it like coming up with a hip-hop beat?

It was a slower beat, it was interesting. We initially wrote the first idea I’d say five years ago, and we always loved elements of it. When we met the girls we were like, “Hey, we’ve got this idea. We’re not too sure what to do with it, but do you want to feature on it?” So they got on, did their rap thing, and then we were looking at it and it just didn’t fit the album. The song was so different but it still had something special and extra. We’re thinking of maybe speeding it up a little bit so it can fit a little better in our sets. It’s a whole different vibe. The beat brings a whole different texture.

Since you both started out as songwriters, when you’re collaborating with someone do you feel a bit protective towards the writing part?

No, we love collaborating just because you learn so much and on top of that other people bring so much texture that you could never bring on your own. We could never rap. We had Azealia Banks on one record but sadly she dropped out cause she had some issues with her record label that wouldn’t give the clearances, but just hearing it on a record brought it to a whole new level. I love that process of collaborating. Also it’s fun to be in the studio with someone else because often it’s just Mim and I screaming at each other.

Do you scream at each other?

Yeah, we’re like every normal sister. We get on really well but we definitely don’t hold back if we feel strongly about things and we often feel strongly about music so when we’re in the studio it can often be quite a dynamic atmosphere.

I can’t let that mention of Kylie Minogue and Jake Shears go past. Tell me about what it was like to work with them.

We’ve known Jake socially for a few years now and we worked with Kylie I think it was two albums ago. We wrote/produced her third single so we’ve been working with Kylie for quite a few years now and it was great. At first it was a track with Jake, only Jake, and then Jake and Kylie were hanging out one night and he mentioned it and she was like, “Hey, can I get on it?”

Then he emails me and he’s like, “I’m out with Kylie and she’d love to sing on it. Can she sing on it, the girl part?” Because at that point it was just Mim and I doing the vocals, and we were like, “Hell yeah!” That’s how it happened. It was very organic and we’re just so rapt to have them on a record together. It’s the first time they’ve ever done a duet together. They’re really good buddies and they often write together too, so I’m really happy about it.

I look forward to hearing it.

It’s a bit of a disco number so again it’s something we couldn’t release as a single because it doesn’t really suit our sets, it’s a little bit mellow. But as an album track it’s got a feelgood disco feel to it.


SYDNEY: Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 November

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ADELAIDE: Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December

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