Nico & Vinz are an international music sensation who have already set the European entertainment scene on fire. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, the singing/songwriting duo, made up of Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery, has tapped into the heart of global culture by writing and performing songs that joyfully speak of life, love and identity. Though it’s hard to name their sound, consider it reminiscent of The Police and Paul Simon’s Graceland.
The pulse of good music throbs powerfully through their Afro-Norwegian veins. These exciting new songwriters of Ivorian and Ghanian backgrounds respectively have come together fusing their varied eclectic influences—from pop to reggae, West African dance to hip hop, rock to soul—to create an engaging sound featuring soul-stirring messages that claim high hopes for the future. “We are Norwegian and African,” Vinz says, “It is important for us to inspire. We sing about things we’ve been going through and about finding ourselves. To us it’s important to have a message, and the goal for us is to inspire people to find happiness.”
Coming from a small country that has welcomed immigrants from all over the world has influenced these artists, pointing their vision toward what is possible if you put your heart to it. At first for Nico music was not his passion; it was soccer. For Vinz it was rapping. Since Nico & Vinz began working together five years ago, their mission has been laser sharp: to make magic in the studio, dream up the most imaginative videos to illustrate their ideas and travel the world to share their artistry with everyone they can.
Since their debut in 2010 as Envy, Nico & Vinz have drawn huge audiences thanks to their unique performance style. They stepped on the scene at the Emegenza Festival where they eventually won first place for new, emerging artists at the Taubertal Open Air Festival with their electric live performance.
In June 2011 they released their debut single, “One Song” which peaked at #19 on the Norwegian Single Chart and earned them a Spelleman Award (Norwegian equivalent to a Grammy) for the song’s video. Expanding beyong their Scandinavian borders to reach the blob, Nico & Vinz took their new music on the road across much much of Europe and producing music inspired by their travels.
Their combined focus has evolved into a movement and a message. In their song, “Am I Wrong” that flew to the top of the charts in Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden last year, they speak about a universal theme following your own heart. Says Nico, “It is our hope that people who are asking ‘should I go the safest way that everybody says I should go, even though my gut says to go where my true happiness lies?’ to be happy. We want to inspire them to follow their heart.”
The “Am I Wrong” music video, directed by Kavar Singh, already has more than 60 million views on YouTube, and over 16 million for its lyric video. That’s no surprise given the riveting images and settings captured in this eye-catching “short film.” Vinz explains that it was shot in Botswana. “We said let’s go there and make a video that really projects the positivity and joy and good energy that’s in Africa, not always the negative stuff.” Their vision is paying off. The single has won an NRJ Award for “Song of the Year,” and a Spelleman Award nomination for “Hit of the Year.” To date, “Am I Wrong” has a 20x Platinum combined certification in Scandanavia, and almost Double Platinum in the US!
Nico & Vinz’s second Scandinavian single “In Your Arms” charted in Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Once again the video takes the viewer on a unique journey. With this song, the imagery is of a homeless man who creates a time machine to travel back to meet up with his family who had been tragically killed.
The duo performed both hits at the Nobel Peace Prize concert at the end of 2013. Vinz describes that experience as surreal. “I will never forget it. It was one of the all-time highlights. We had dreamed about it four years earlier, and then it happened.”
With hardly any formal training, these two are mastering their craft by collaborating skillfully as they create stories to share with the world. “We take our differences and use them to our advantage,” says Nico. “We never force things.” ”Our goal,” according to Vinz, ”is for people to feel and think at the same time” when they listen to their music. Without question, Nico & Vinz honor their heritage of being both Norwegian and African. They also see the universality in the human experience and feel no pressure to conform to any particular way of being.
In early 2014, Nico & Vinz received the European Boarder Breakers Award (EBBA) at Eurosonic Festival, performed at the Spellemann Awards, completed a Scandanavian tour, and launched “Am I Wrong” worldwide. When “Am I Wrong” made its American radio debut in April of 2014, it was the #1 most added record at the Top 40/mainstream format with 90 adds, a rarity in first-week airplay for a new artist. It has already made it to #1 Top 40 and Hot Ac airplay charts. And, as THE most Shazamed song worldwide, “Am I Wrong” held #1 on Shazam’s Top 100 Worldwide for 2 months, and #2 North American charts. “Am I Wrong” continues to skyrocket up both streaming and download charts — Top 5 iTunes Singles Charts (#2 peak on iTunes Pop), Top 5 on Billboard Hot 100, and Top 5 on Spotify US and Worldwide charts with 135 million global streams to-date.
Fueled by global ambitions, they are getting ready to release their debut album, Black Star Elephant, while supporting Bruno Mars on his national tour in July and August. After catching a sneak peak of the upcoming film The Good Lie which portrays Sudanese refugees taken in by Reese Witherspoon’s character, the two penned an uplifting song, “Find a Way,” featured in the official trailer and soundtrack. As Nico & Vinz expand their artistic reach, they admit that it’s happening because of their big dreams. Says Nico, “We set such high goals because we have to. Especially coming from Norway, a country of 5 million people, it’s very unusual for people to say I want to be big, as big as Michael Jackson even. We are kind of rebellious in that way of thinking. We want to show people that you can become whatever you want if you believe and work hard.”