It‟s not often you come across artists who have it all, but NERVO do. Australian sisters Liv and Mim Nervo are the real deal: hit songwriters, producers, and DJ‟s whose skills have attracted a Who‟s Who of pop music‟s hottest artists drawn to the girls‟ clever lyrics, indelible melodies, and bold, sassy electro-pop sound that bridges the gap between the underground and the mainstream. NERVO‟s impressive array of credits include co-writing and vocally producing the song "Boots & Boys" on newly minted pop star Ke$ha‟s chart-topping debut album Animal; (as well as writing and co-producing her tracks "VIP" and "F*** Him, He‟s a DJ") writing and vocally producing four tracks on superstar DJ/producer David Guetta‟s three-time Grammy-nominated album One Love, including the No. 1 Billboard dance single "When Love Takes Over" featuring Kelly Rowland, which was also a #1 sales and airplay chart smash across Europe (#1 airplay slot for 11 weeks) and Australia.
They also co-wrote "If I Was A Man" from the Pussycat Dolls‟ latest Doll Domination; and Miley Cyrus‟ "Let‟s Get Crazy" — the theme song to Hannah Montana: The Movie. Their longtime passion for club dance music and club culture has led the girls to also work with top DJs such as Afrojack, Armin Van Burren, Avicii, Kaskade, and Laidback Luke. Their pop collaborations include Kylie Minogue, Ke$ha, Cheryl Cole, Rachel Stevens (scoring a UK Top 10 hit with "Negotiate With Love"), and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, as well as working their magic with top hitmakers Rodney Jerkins, Cathy Dennis, Toby Gad, RedOne, Mirwais, The Underdogs, and Greg Kurstin, to name but a few.
"We‟ve had great experience working with other artists and producers," Liv says. "We love finding talent, figuring out what that artist stands for and nurturing their creativity." Now NERVO are capitalizing on their solid track record by signing a multi-faceted label deal with Astralwerks/Virgin Records that enables them to release their own music as artists for the first time ever. "After so many years writing for and producing tracks for other artists, we are thrilled to be working on our own material that truly represents who we are," Liv says. "When we‟re in the studio, we get the chance to be artistically free and that‟s very satisfying." "With our own songs, there are no creative boundaries, which are really exciting." Mim adds.
The deal also enables Mim and Liv to tap into their roots in the underground club scene and sign artists to their newly created imprint, NERVO Records. "We feel like this deal with EMI is the perfect platform for us to showcase the young, hot talent we‟re always discovering through our journeys, whether it‟s through spinning alongside our DJ friends or meeting an aspiring vocalist at a club," Liv says. "Music culture is what turns us on so we want to be at the forefront of that by finding artists and bringing out their best with NERVO Records," Mim says.
That they should find themselves in this position isn‟t too surprising given their early exposure to all things musical. Mim and Liv grew up in the suburbs of Melbourne, the twin daughters of Italian immigrants. "Our parents were very nurturing," Liv says. "Anything we wanted to do, they would make it happen." "We had violin lessons, piano lessons, singing lessons," Mim says. "We did classical singing. We always loved to sing. But it wasn‟t an option to be a musician in our family. You had to work hard, study hard and be a lawyer or a doctor. Our dad is an endodontist. Music was seen as a hobby — a luxury."
Nevertheless, the girls, obsessed with all kinds of music — everyone from Cole Porter and Gypsy Kings, to Mariah Carey, Kurt Cobain, and Tom Tom Club — wanted to be pop stars. "On our
walks home from school, we used to get bored talking to each other so we‟d make up stories and sing them as we were walking home," Mim recalls. At age 16, the girls were working as models ("mostly catalog stuff, but we got to travel the world," Mim says) when a local producer offered them a job as demo singers. That producer, Paul Wiltshire (who has worked with the Backstreet Boys among many others), also suggested they try their hand at songwriting and the girls found they had a knack for writing lyrics and melodies. Not long after, a woman Mim and Liv had gone to school with, Cassandra Gracey, who was working as a tour manager for London all-female pop act Sugababes, contacted them and said she was interested in launching them as artists if they moved to London. Gracey didn‟t have to ask the girls twice.
"We didn‟t even look at each other, we just said, „Yeah, we‟re good to go‟" Mim says. "Two weeks later, we left." Once the girls were in London, Gracey put them in touch with several producers, which led to a publishing deal with Sony ATV and Razorboy. "We became songwriters because we couldn‟t get arrested as pop stars," Liv says. The girls lived off of the spoils of their songwriting, scoring a few hits in Asia, but eventually ran out of money and wound up working in bars and restaurants for several years. "It was really hard to suddenly have to work in a bar every night just so you can afford to do what you wanted to do. It was a really big crash," Liv says. Adds Mim: "We‟d have a meeting with these top A&R people and then they‟d come in to the restaurant where we were working. It was humiliating."
"The driving force that kept us alive was that we really enjoyed being in the studio," Liv says. "We got a real buzz out of writing and being creative. But it was a really hard time, and that kind of levels you a bit. We felt like we went through a quarter-life crisis." But the story has a silver lining. Many of their fellow bartenders and waiters were also DJ‟s, songwriters, and producer hopefuls and the girls began to build what Liv describes as "a lovely, supportive community of aspiring nobodies." They began going out to clubs and immersing themselves in London‟s cutting-edge underground music and fashion culture, absorbing the dancefloor sounds of such inspirations as Daft Punk, Justice, AIR, Basement Jaxx, and The Chemical Brothers, as they sharpened their skills. "The DJ‟s weren‟t going for commercial success, it was all about the dancefloor and doing what turns you on," Liv says. "It was more creative. The DJ‟s we were working with loved the fact that we had come from the pop world and could write a melody."
NERVO attended last year's Winter Music Conference where they previewed their debut dance release 'This Kind of Love' on UK's Loaded Records, which has since gone #1 on the World Club Charts and #2 on the UK Music Week Club Charts. The week was a huge success that saw them DJ at parties for Paul Oakenfold and Pete Tong, and play the main stage at the huge Ultra Festival alongside the world's greatest dance acts. Last Autumn, they toured with Paul Oakenfold and Chuckie on the acclaimed 'Facelift' tour and released a highly acclaimed second single "Irresistible". This summer will see NERVO play numerous dates in the USA and Canada with pop icon Britney Spears on her 'Femme Fatale' tour, as well as dates in Ibiza and mainland Europe.
Over the next year, they will continue to scour the globe for the hottest talent to sign to their label, as they step into gear as artists in their own right, collaborating with the best producers and writers to create songs for their forthcoming debut album.
"We want to do it all," Mim says. "We really admire people like Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Mark Ronson, Diddy, and will.i.am. They are all known as songwriters, producers, entrepreneurs, and artists. None of them has been expected to stay in one lane and be known for one thing." Finishes Liv: "So why should we?"