In high school I took a trip to Mexico City with my friend Matt. We were visiting his Dad, Step-Mom, and 2 Step-Brothers. That’s when I first met Alessandro and Franco Niro. They were both attending Berklee College of Music in Boston at the time and had just started to create their own sound. Now, 5 years later, the Niro Brothers have a strong footing.
Houston-based Alessandro Niro, who now has built his brand under the name Dr. Penguin, primarily plays in the lo-fi and house scene. The Dr. grabs inspiration from genres such as hip-hop, soul, funk, jazz, and pop, which is very evident in his music. This gives his tracks a tasteful and super catchy quality. He recently put out Night at the ER, a 5-track solo EP featuring his signature lo-fi, ambient sounds. However, he is only getting started. Ale has been collaborating virtually with various vocalists and plans to release several new tracks, as well as a second EP in the coming months.
Under the pseudonym ‘Synapse’, Franco Niro is a Mexico City-based pop and RnB music producer. Since graduating from Berklee College of Music in 2017, Synapse has produced and written for Kalimba, Pepe Portilla, Lolita de Sola, Colette Killworth, Lu.E, and other artists both locally and internationally. Drawing inspiration from producers like Tainy, DJ Luian, Boi-1da, and London On Da Track, Niro mixes his music elements from RnB, reggaeton, trap, and lofi. Both Niro Bros are only getting started.
The first thing you notice when talking to Ale and Franco is that they carefully pick their words…almost like two young Socrates. They think before they speak, which is similar to their music in that they think before they create.
I caught up with these 2 a few days ago to discuss quarantine, upcoming projects, and deep introspection. We also shared a few drinks.
See below for the full interview.
Deviate: When it comes to music, would you say your creative process has been sparked more during quarantine or the complete opposite?
Ale: For me, it wasn’t am I more or less creative because of the pandemic. It was more along the lines of I HAVE to be creative and I HAVE to get content out there. Quarantine almost forced me to think of new ways to engage with my followers and draw people in. If anything, it helped me connect with people more on social media because we all living it.
Franco: It’s been a balance of being super creative and then staying extremely stagnant. I’ll say it’s definitely been my busiest time ever, working and collaborating with other vocalists and musicians. However, that has caused some of my other projects to stand still. I will say I’ve loved it because I have to time to explore different areas that I otherwise wouldn’t have given much attention to. The creative pressure is definitely still there though…everyone is making music and everyone is putting shit out every 2 weeks and then I ask myself, ‘how do I stay on top of it and keep it fresh without burning myself out…ya know?’
Deviate: You both create and produce different genres of music. What artists do you primary draw your influence from and resonate with the most?
Franco: It’s funny because I don’t have one specific person, producer, or artist in general that I fixate with…I really like pop and have gotten very into that world as of late. So, I’ve been pinballing around in that and reggaetón, but if a song is good…I get excited for it. Be it a good hook, a good lyric, a good melody….that’s what keeps me inspired to keep creating. [me making him name a few artists]
If I HAD to name a few artists that I listen to consistently, I guess I would say Khalid…everything he makes it bangin’. He’s just so versatile; he’s everywhere. I also love Alina Baraz and Mahalia.
Deviate: Franco, I know you’ve always been in the collaboration space, but Ale you’ve been much more solo. Is that going to stay the recipe in 2021 or will that be changing?
Ale: No, no, actually I’ve been working with some others on recent projects. I was first attracted to lo-fi because it didn’t a singer…essentially so I could make it my own. However, the more I released, the more people started hitting me up asking to work together or sing on my tracks. So I’ve been sending my instrumentals out to people, and I guess I’ll release whatever comes back first. It’s really cool. It’s been nice. I’m actually looking to release my second EP, Ageless, by the end of November…. so be on the lookout for that.
Deviate Franco, I want to hear more about your current projects and what’s in the pipeline. What can we expect in the coming months?
Franco: Well, there’s a few things… It’s funny because while being in Mexico City, I rarely work with anyone here. It’s all outsourcing for the most part. At the moment I’m working on an EP for Colette Killworth who is based in LA. The songs are mainly pop oriented with a little bit of RnB and Hip-Hop flavors. At the moment we are looking to release the first single after the election in November and the full work closer towards December or early January. I am also currently finishing up producing one of the songs for Shir, an Isreali singer currently based in Tel Aviv. That one is decisively RnB with trap influences, we drew a lot of inspiration from H.E.R. for this song!
he’s also a business mogul…
So those two things and then a little side project with a friend of mine. He is in the process of creating a music library that will cater music for advertisements, films, blogs, etc. He has focused mainly on creating the more up-beat, tropical, pop-type music I get to work on the more mellow, sadder stuff. The music you don’t necessarily want to listen to first thing in the morning to pump you up for the day, but it will play with the more melancholic and pensive side of the catalogue. That is a work-in-progress for sure, but all of these projects are definitely moving me out of my comfort zone, so it’s been nothing but rewarding.
[and now the hard-hitting question]
Deviate: If you weren’t human what inanimate object would you be?
Ale: Ok let me think about this…..ultimately, the first thing that comes to mind is a computer….because if I have some trace of AI inside of me I can just do whatever the fuck I want. If I want to be a mf plane, I can be a mf plane.
This guy broke the question.
Franco: Wow…that is aggressively introspective. I’ll go with a notebook, man…..a blank notebook. So, if you think about it…its an open canvas. Every page is a canvas, every side of it is a canvas. You can create whatever you want. Whether its a picture or a poem or a general story, and what are we if not just reflections of our own stories and experiences.
I want to once again give a HUGE shout out to the Niro Brothers for taking the time to speak with me and for being the first ever Deviate Music Blog Artists Spotlight feature(s). A phenomenal duo.
Be sure to check out their Instagram and Spotify pages, which you can find below. Also, be on the look out for Franco and Colette’s EP and Dr. Penquin’s Ageless.
Alessandro and Franco Niro are Deviates.