The twin sisters in Nervo—Miriam and Olivia Nervo, better known as Mim and Liv—are true renaissance women. The Australian natives are talented songwriters who have worked with A-list pop stars (Kylie Minogue, Ke$ha and Britney Spears, to name a few) and EDM superstars (David Guetta, Afrojack) and are also in-demand DJs and producers in their own right (see: the dramatic house music hits “Hold On” and “Like Home”). When they’re not jet-setting around the world playing major music festivals, the Nervo sisters host a show on Sirius (called, natch, “Nervo Nation”) and dabbling in modeling. We checked in with Liv a couple weeks before EDC.
How is your Hakkasan residency going? Great. The guys running the club have put so much effort into the night, making them all different and stand out from each other. We were involved with the costumes of the dancers, and just everything. They’re calling it Nervo Nation, so when you walk in you get a ticket in the shape of a passport. The club is just great—great sound system, nice and big room. I think people in Vegas are excited about it, because it’s the new hot spot on the block. You really felt that vibe when we were there.
When you have a residency like that, as an artist, what’s the most exciting thing for you? I really like checking in with the fans and the people on a regular basis. If people miss you one time, then they come the next time. And also, you do get those fans that come every time, and they like the vibe of the place. We definitely see those repeat people coming back.
Do you have any good Vegas stories yet? I have a lot of good Vegas stories! (laughs) Not too many I can share with you. (laughs) Vegas is wild. I don’t think I could do more than the dates I’m doing there now, or we would be dead. There’s always a party. People always want to afterparty. And we aren’t ones to say no to that kind of thing. It’s hardcore.
How is your debut album developing in terms of sound? In the beginning, we wanted it to be a little more indie-electronic. And then we released a few club records, a few bigger ones, and our fans reacted very well to it. So, now there will be a few different textures. We definitely want to explore [songs with less of a] club structure. There will be a few on the record that show different sides of us, but there will be hands-in-the-air records as well.
What’s the most fun for you guys, doing your own radio show? Oh, we love having the show. We love getting to interview our buddies, all of our DJ friends. We love it also because we get booked these days to play a lot of peak-time sets, which is great—it’s great energy, it’s always a party. But we also love a lot of house music and deep house and tech house. So, on our radio show, we get to show that side of ourselves and also get to indulge that side. We always start off a little house-y and boppy, then we get harder and we end with something quite deep or soulful or a little bit off-the-wall. We enjoy that process, because that’s the music we really love and massive reasons as to why we got into DJing.
You guys go very fluidly between producing, DJing and songwriting. How do each of these creative acts inform the other ones? Our evolution was interesting. It felt very natural to us. We’ve been writing songs for 10 years—we’ve been playing piano since we were 10 years old. About [seven] years ago, we got more into programming. And it was purely just because we wanted to take control of our music. A lot of the time, we would enter these studios, play these riffs, make these songs and then you’d be at the mercy of the person running the computers. About five years ago, we really pushed that side of things. I think we became a little more control-freaky with our music. We did more and more on our own. We’ve always been clubbers, so we’ve always really loved house music. We found ourselves working Monday through Friday in the studio with bigger pop producers and pop artists, but then on the weekends we’d be running off to Ibiza or going to clubs to see our DJ buddies play. We found ourselves in this world where they wanted us to help write for them, and we wanted them to get into clubs for free. We started writing with them. And one of the guys who had a lot of success with [a record that we made with him] was David Guetta. It kind of all just happened at the same time: When he crossed over into pop, suddenly we had some songs on that album—like “When Love Takes Over”—and then we got an agent, because we were DJing but not really taking it too seriously. And David really was like, “Girls, you know what you are doing. You know house music. Why don’t you be DJs?” I guess that was the real defining moment. We had music that was successful for him, and then he was the one who was like, “Take yourselves seriously as artists.” And so then we did. And now we’re working on our debut album.
Who were your songwriting idols growing up? So many … Songwriting idols to producer idols are different altogether. As a producer, we always really looked up to Daft Punk. They were just fresh; their sounds were really fresh. Nellee Hooper did some great stuff in the pop side of things, he worked a lot with Gwen Stefani. There were artists like Björk that we were always really into. People like Fatboy Slim, I really love how he uses samples in his production; that definitely inspired us. Cathy Dennis, because she was just like the queen of pop—her melodies are sexy and second-to-none. I feel like she’s finally getting some notoriety. She had a couple hits here as an artist, but finally I think people are recognizing her for being a pioneer. We’ve looked up to her our whole career. We got to work with her about four years ago. We were really nervous in the studio, but she was very lovely and very talented. We’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of really talented people. I’ve heard arguments from people that say, “Dance music is so male-dominated.” But you look at people like Cathy who are pioneers, who are women. It’s not like they’re cognizant they are trailblazers; they just do it, since they’re so talented. We’ve looked up to other strong women. Sonique, from the ’90s. She was a DJ and a writer and a performer all rolled into one. Peaches is another strong woman in the electronic scene. Oh yeah, and Annie Mac in the U.K. is possibly the coolest tastemaker DJ on radio. People listen to what she plays; she has a real cult following. Gender has nothing to do with taste in music.
To make music, you guys do a lot of collaborating online, passing files back and forth electronically. Is that easier or harder to do that instead of being in the studio with other people? We love being in the studio actually creating from scratch with people. There’s a vibe that happens when we can make that happen. Sadly, that doesn’t happen very often these days, because we’re on the road constantly, and a lot of the people we collaborate with are also on the road. But we make it happen sometimes. David Guetta’s always a great one for getting everybody in the room together. Everybody drops everything that they’ve got going on and are like, “Okay, we’re going to get in the studio.” We’ve had some fun sessions with him like that, where you walk into a session and there’s, like, Kelly Rowland and Nicky Romero—the who’s-who, working on an album together. That can be a really exciting energy. We got in the studio with Nicky Romero when we did our current single, “Like Home,” so that was great. But we’re happy bouncing ideas back and forth as well.
Nervo plays Electric Daisy Carnival's Circuit Grounds Stage June 23 at 11:30 p.m. Also, Wet Republic with Steve Aoki, June 21, 11 a.m. doors, $40+ men, $20+ women. And Hakkasan’s Ling Ling Club: June 22, 10 p.m. doors, $50+ men, $30+ women, local ladies free. MGM Grand, 891-1111.