JoeHero & Nina is an African-European duo formed in 2013. Prior to singing as a duo JoeHero and Nina were the two main lead singers for the Gambian Reggae Band ‘The Roots Bongo Band’. After releasing an album with the band and touring the Gambia through 2012 and 2013, JoeHero and Nina parted from the band in pursuit of a solo career as a duo. Together they play a unique blend of World Music by combining what they call ‘Roots Pop Reggae’ with Acoustic Singer-Songwriter elements and the occasional Dancehall beat. JoeHero is a self-taught musician from The Gambia; he plays the guitar and is the male vocalist for the duo. Nina Beste is a singer-songwriter originally from Germany, she joined the band in 2009 and after graduating from a BA in Commercial Music in London and moved to The Gambia to play full time with them. The duo is currently living in Berlin, Germany, concentrating on their debut album which just released on March 19th 2014. Check out our interview with JoeHero & Nina below!
ET: How did you two meet and what made you decide to start singing such eclectic genres of music?
JoeHero & Nina: We met in Gambia in 2009. Nina came for holidays and was looking into the music scene in Gambia, that is how she met the band. First we played strictly Roots Reggae with the band, but singing as a duo now, we are able to bring more of our individuality into our music. We come from very different backgrounds and genres from Hip Hop to Jazz to Reggae and Country, which is why we combine our favourite elements of each.
ET: What was it like touring and traveling to unique destinations like Gambia all while pursuing your musical career?
JH&N: JoeHero is originally from Gambia and I (Nina) had a unique experience! We struggled a lot to be recognised as self-composing musicians and not just another cover band down there, but now as a duo the people of Gambia are very receptive to our combination of sounds! Living in Gambia and touring the country with the band was definitely an experience that made us stronger and even more eager to pursue a career in music. We are now in Germany to take our music to the next level!
ET: What did these travels teach you two about the differently worldy genres of music? How did this shape your sound and/or career in music?
JH&N: It taught us that no matter where you are from and what genre of music you play, there are always people who will love what you do and you will support you to make more and more music! Gambia has a lot of traditional music and instruments that are played by the locals. We have a lot of African elements in our music such as the Djembeh (local drums) and Bongos/Congas etc. We definitely keep the ‘Roots’ presence in our music!
ET: What made you two decide to part ways with your old Reggae band and pursuer a career as a duo?
JH&N: Unfortunately the priorities and ideas in the band were not the same. The band members were mostly interested in playing for hotels and tourists during the season to make money and not really interested in getting known for their own music. We on the other hand wanted to get further with our music and play outside of Gambia. You can only achieve that with the right mindset, so we decided to continue as a duo.
ET: Tell us a little bit about your debut album that released March 19th. What can listeners expect if they haven’t listened yet? Which track would you say was the most challenging to write, and why?
JH&N: Our debut album is packed with brand the songs and some bonus tracks form the live band ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ album that we released with the band. Listeners can expect the same Reggae vibes and also a variety of different genres such as alternative folk and more singer-songwriter styles. We are very excited about this album, as it represents our cultural background in such a harmonious way. It will include the already released singles ‘World of Doubt’, ‘Give Me Your Love’ and ‘Ganja Fi Legal’ which listeners can download for free on our Soundcloud at the moment.
Ideas and inspirations always come to us, it is like we are channelling words and melodies from a higher power, which makes every song a challenge in the way to get it to turn out as great as it sounded in our minds! We were lucky to work with some very talented producers and musicians, so we are extremely happy with the way they all turned out.
ET: What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
JH&N: After releasing the album in March we are going to focus on promotion and playing live in Berlin and other German cities for the rest of the year. We are also collaborating with a Jamaican artist so maybe we will get the chance to head over to Jamaica at some point in the future which has been a dream of ours for a long time!