There’s often a sense of self-gain for the artist by throwing money towards a cause and seeing it splashed on the cover of magazines and newspapers as highly commendable philanthropic gestures. In many instances, you’re left questioning their motives or hands-on contribution to the cause. Meeting up with the Norwegian singing duo Nico & Vinz, recently in the country as part of the UNAIDS programme, there’s a sense of sincerity in their demeanour. Despite the mass success of their single Am I Wrong, the pair appear seemingly down-to-earth, courteously greeting all those they come in contact with, regardless of standing.
The duo has come to witness first-hand what UNAIDS are doing in the lives of those suffering from HIV/Aids and are using their celebrity status to create awareness and urge people to get tested. “I think a lot of the challenges with HIV/Aids are people not getting tested,” says Vincent Dery (Vinz). “People need to get tested so they know their HIV status.”
Asked by the organisation to join them in this plight, Nicolay Sereba (Nico) explains their motive, “They [UNAIDS] invited us to their office and showed us what they were working for and why it’s important to work against this disease right now. They showed us we can get rid of this disease within our generation. To us, that was really mind-blowing.
“Up until then, I thought this disease is going to be around forever, just like war, because it’s been around since we were born. But they showed us it’s possible to get rid of it. We left there with a good feeling and knew this was something we wanted to support, to help spread the message and to use our voice to kill stigma and misconceptions around the disease.”
Vinz says: “We went to the headquarters in Geneva and sat there with all the stats and facts. We left there feeling like this is something we’re already part of. They said 2030 – it’s possible to remove the whole epidemic and virus. It felt so possible to us.”
Although the duo have never been involved in charity work before, they have always wanted to use their voice for something more meaningful and believe UNAIDS is a worthy start. “The southern part of Africa has very bad numbers, so I think for us to come and see it first-hand is really important. It’s one thing to just be sitting in LA and say we support it, but to really be here and be a part of it is rewarding for us – and I also think it makes an even bigger impact,” says Vinz.