nero’s alana watson is bringing cyborg realness to edm

welcome to the future

photo by Dan Wilton

“I think of myself as a cyberpunk fembot,” says Nero frontwoman Alana Watson with a laugh. She’s trying to explain how her mix of leather bondage gear with flowing ethereal garments enhances Nero’s music, which pits her crystalline vocals against the gritty production of bandmates Daniel Stephens and Joe Ray. “I like to put on a costume and become a character in the world we’ve created,” continues Watson. Said world is set in 2808, and inspired by retro-futuristic movies like Blade Runner. “If you asked me to go up onstage as Alana, who’s talking to you now, I don’t think I’d have the balls,” she says.

Since their 2011 debut album, Welcome Reality, Nero have won a Grammy (along with Skrillex for a remix of the EDM group’s “Promises”), collaborated with director Baz Luhrmann on the Great Gatsby soundtrack, and toured North America, the U.K., and Australia. Despite their worldwide success, the arresting vision of Watson, with her bright white hair and icy blue eyes, may not be familiar to all—and for good reason. “Making the first album, and even when it hit No. 1 in the U.K., I was pulling a 50-hour week as a midwife,” she says. “It was mental.” Watson’s nursing colleagues concurred with this assessment, almost forcing her to focus on music full time. “They told me I had to go and do it,” she says.

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