Over 'Am I Wrong'? Nico & Vinz know how you feel

AP News
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Posted: Nov 05, 2014 8:28 AM
Over 'Am I Wrong'? Nico & Vinz know how you feel

LOS ANGELES (AP) — If you're tired of hearing Nico & Vinz's worldwide hit "Am I Wrong," the Norwegian duo knows just how you feel.

The 23-year-old musicians from the Oslo suburbs released the optimistic, ambition-focused song in April 2013. It hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, sold 2 million tracks and led to plum concert gigs and international fame. Now they're ready to skip ahead to the next track.

"When we're in the cabs and ... the taxi driver turns it up, we're like, 'It's OK man. You can turn it down. We've heard it. I know this song,'" said Nicolas "Nico" Sereba.

Sereba and Vincent "Vinz" Dery hope radio listeners turn up the volume on their follow-up single, "In Your Arms." Like much of their just-released album, "Black Star Elephant," it blends African rhythms with broadly danceable pop and urban sounds.

Dery's parents are from Ghana and Sereba's father hails from the Ivory Coast, while his mother is Norwegian. Both were raised in ethnically diverse neighborhoods, surroundings that lent a melting-pot quality to their musical efforts.

"My friends and Vinz's friends also were everything from Pakistani to Somalians to Asians to Albanians — just everything," Sereba said. "For us it's just, people are supposed to be together, no matter where you're from. That is something that we want to tell through the music and tell by just being ourselves."

The duo first recorded together as Envy, releasing a hip-hop album two years ago that failed to get much traction. Working with local producers to craft a new sound, "Am I Wrong" became the centerpiece and helped shape future studio sessions.

They traveled to Botswana to shoot the music video and eventually peppered their album with interludes in African languages.

"The whole African theme — we thought of that as the red thread," Dery said. "We wanted to make it that scenery, that setting."

The duo hopes to continue their story in the United States, renting an apartment four months ago in the Los Angeles area. They're part of a surge in Scandinavian pop musicians who have found success outside the region in recent years, including Little Dragon, Lykke Li and Icona Pop.

"Right now in Oslo or Norway in general, there's a lot of artists that really have that international type of mind-set," Dery said. "Maybe it's a new generation. The last time we had anybody on top of Billboard — that was A-ha back in the '80s."

Nico & Vinz acknowledge they aren't naturally gifted musicians or singers. Dery recently listened to songs he recorded at 15. "It's horrible," he said.

"I feel sometimes people think ... that we were born to do this in a way. I feel like we really worked to it," Dery said. "I feel like my talent or our talent not necessarily was the rapping or the singing part, but just like the dedication and the hard work. That was sort of the talent — the perseverance."

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Online:

http://www.nicoandvinz.com/blackstarsplash

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