By Brian Ives
Last summer, way back when “Blurred Lines” and “Get Lucky” ruled the radio, no one in America had ever heard of Nico & Vinz. And that’s not just hyperbole. Back then, the duo — comprised of Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery — was known as Envy. Funny that a name change would lead them to become just that in the eyes of their musical peers.
Nico & Vinz’s debut U.S. single, “Am I Wrong,” was not only the most Shazam-ed song in the world throughout much of the summer, but was streamed over 100 million times on Spotify and has gotten nearly 65 million views on YouTube — more than 80 million if you count the song’s lyric video.
The duo just wrapped up a U.S. arena tour opening for Bruno Mars, and are prepping to play Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on September 9 for Fashion Rocks, a Fashion Week concert airing live on CBS (Radio.com’s parent company) at 8 pm EST. There the guys will share the stage with Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Pitbull, Miranda Lambert, Jennifer Hudson and others.
Luckily, spending the summer with Mars prepared the guys for large gigs opening for big artists. “Warming up is a funny thing, you go on stage and people might not even know who you are,” Vinz tells Radio.com. “You’ve got to give it all you got. Hopefully, you’ll gain a couple of new fans. I think we did a great job of that.”
Being an opener can be tough on the ego, but Nico said that on Mars’ tour “at least 50% of the place would be filled when we started. During the course of our show, more people would come and sometimes at the end, we’d get a standing ovation.”
The duo sound surprisingly low-key when they talk about sharing the stage with Mars and don’t seem to be too nervous about sharing a stage with J. Lo or Duran Duran at Fashion Rocks. They chalk that up to being out-of-towners.
“It’s funny, people are like, ‘You’re so calm about all of these things.’ But that’s because we never know how big something is before we get there, because we didn’t grow up in America with all of these things,” Vinz says. “But we know who those artists are. We think we have the ability to perform on the same stage as these people. We just want to give it everything we’ve got. We just want to show the world who Nico & Vinz are.”
The only thing most Americans know about Nico & Vinz is that they’re the duo behind the song “Am I Wrong,” and some may not even know that they are the ones who sing that song. “That’s why we need to just go out to wherever we can to perform for people, so they can associate a name with the song,” Vinz says. “The song is huge, but not everyone knows Nico & Vinz. That’s what we’re working on now.”
Therein lies the challenge, says Nico, the must show people that they are more than just one song. It’s something they hope to do with their full length U.S. debut, Black Star Elephant,, out October 14. “We hope people will see us for our body of work,” he says.
When the guys wrote “Am I Wrong,” they say they weren’t even trying to write a hit single, but something honest. “That’s what made it a hit. It’s so real and it’s so personal,” Nico says. “We’re not worried about what the next single is, we know it’s gonna work, we have to believe in ourselves.”
Adding, “If you like ‘Am I Wrong,’ you’re probably gonna like the rest of it. It’s got that same energetic, dance-y vibe, but with serious topics on top.”
At Fashion Rocks, they probably won’t be asked to speak on more serious matters, but they’ll surely be asked, “Who are you wearing?” Vinz says they’re still working on that.
“Just like we want the music to be representative of ourselves, we want our fashion to be representative of ourselves as well,” he says. “We’d like to have African elements to what we wear, and Scandinavian touch to it of course. That Nordic style!”
Fashion Week’s Fashion Rocks, featuring Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Pitbull, Miranda Lambert, Jennifer Hudson and others. Luke Bryan, Nicki Minaj, Duran Duran, KISS, the Band Perry, Rita Ora, Afrojack and Magic!, airs Sept. 9 at 8 pm EST on CBS.
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