Kenya and Nemor
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Kenya and Nemor

Göteborg, Västra Götaland, Sweden | SELF

Göteborg, Västra Götaland, Sweden | SELF
Duo R&B




"Kenya & Nemor - Just Becuz"

One might be surprised of the various faraway places producing American-born R&B/soul music. Certainly, Iceland doesn’t readily come to mind. Quick history lesson: the original musical culture of the Republic of Iceland was inspired by folk music from Northern Europe and the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. While folk still has a place in Iceland, this small island sitting across from Norway has recently produced several alternative pop sensations, including: The Sugarcubes, Bjork, GusGus and Sigur Ros—all who have attained international attention with their ambitious mix of rock, classical and electronic music. Unfortunately, on the international radar, Iceland’s urban music talent pool tends to be just a whisper below the more dominant pop and folk market. Yet, amongst the handful of homegrown artists, there are occasional pleasantries who bubble up above the transient pop stars, such as the jazz funk band, Mezzoforte, and a particularly delightful R&B/jazz duo Kenya and Nemor, one who should shed a bit more light on the Iceland soul scene.

Kenya Emil, an Icelandic native, and Jason Nemor Hardin, a US transplant to Iceland, discovered each other’s talents at a regional event in 2003. One might call it destiny for aspiring musicians like Kenya & Nemor to first meet at a concert entitled “The Soul of Motown,” but it was actually thanks to much encouragement from their respective friends that the two found one another and hit it off. While Kenya’s first professional gig was performing at this tribute concert, Nemor rediscovered his childhood musical gifts after a career playing basketball in Europe. One year later, Kenya (known as “the voice”) and producer/musician Nemor (known as “the vibe”) reconnected to start developing their own soulful niche. Their first demo track in 2004, “Touch Me Taste Me,” was the beginning of several years in defining their sound and sharpening their songwriting abilities. The duo eventually caught on in 2006 with expanded club gigs and festivals in Iceland, along with tours of Norway and New York.

After years of perfecting their studio performances and stage presence, Kenya & Nemor’s finally self-release their debut Just Becuz, an intertwining of Atlantic Starr, Earth Wind and Fire and other old-school R&B influences with mostly electronic beats. Dance clubs could feast on the title track, one accented with booming bass and plenty of Kenya’s vocal sweetness and sass. The hip-hop shaded “U Know How It Goes” is powered by the fierce snare drums and funk-laced piano by the track’s producer Thaddeus ‘Pismo’ Smith III. For a light, romantic moment, “The Coffee Song” covers sexy ‘80s R&B balladry with a touch of swing and Kenya’s inviting alto for that special encounter: “We can get some coffee/Get to talking.” In a different romantic light, Nemor’s dreamy keyboards and Kenya’s sultry lead and background voices send “Touch Me Taste Me” into a soothing sensual zone. With a modern jazz trio led by pianist Dadi Birgisson, “U Take Me Places” is another intimate setting that detours from the R&B format. Though Kenya keeps it mellow for most of Just Becuz, she firmly exercises some vocal power on “U Go Your Way,” about a relationship on the skids.

Just Becuz is a sweet elixir of old school R&B tossed with neo-soul, hip-hop and jazz tidbits. The only major downfall is when Nemor’s rare lead—and sometimes off-key—appearance on “Still Recall” falls far short of Kenya’s vocal confidence. Otherwise, Just Becuz is a credible debut for Kenya & Nemor, one that should make a small dent in the international anonymity of Iceland’s fairly quiet urban music community. Recommended.

By Peggy Oliver


"Kenya & Nemor"

We at Heart and Soul Radio are proud to be given an advance copy of Kenya & Nemor's brand new album "Just becuz" it has to be one of the best album releases this year and we urge you to go get yourself a copy it is a must for quality soul fans and a definite purchase for all Heart and Soul Radio Listeners. We thought you may wish to know a little more about these great artists.

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- HEart & Soul Radio UK


LP: Just Becuz (released 9-30-11)

Wanna Let U Know
This Is Real
You Take Me Places

This Is Real (Breeze version)
Wanna Let U Know (Chris Void extended mix)
Wanna Let U Know (Chris Void radio mix)

You Take Me Places
# 708 in Jazz (highest position was 68). Total songs: 38,130
# 213 in Smooth Jazz (highest position was 26). Total songs: 6,601


Wanna let you know_Radio
# 1,676 in Urban (highest position was 307). Total songs: 102,386
# 989 in R&B/Soul/Pop (highest position was 178). Total songs: 60,933



A smooth and sensuous sound of their own influenced by the likes of Marvin Gaye, Earth Wind & Fire, Atlantic Starr, Sade Jill Scott and Maxwell just to name a few and you have Kenya and Nemor.

If the midnight sun had a voice, it would touch that inner chord that transforms simple tones into something so much greater. That is the vocal caliber of Icelandic-American Kenya Emil, lead singer of the duet Kenya and Nemor, who are gearing up to bring their music to audiences all over the world. Beside Kenya shines a radiant Southern moon that shrouds her softly sung melody with the perfect texture to make the sensation complete. It is Jay Nemor, a Texan songwriter deeply connected to the very roots of soul music. When they perform, the audience asks itself: "Why don't they make music like that anymore?" Well, they do and it manifests itself in this duo.

Kenya and Nemor began in mid-August 2006 when they gave their first full band performance at the University of Iceland student bar. From that, they went directly to center stage on Reykjavik Culture Night where they enthralled Icelanders with their magic. Finding the audience very receptive to their sound and music, they continued to perform at Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik, Crash Mansion, New York City, Sildajazz, Haugesund, Jamfestivalen Norevikane, Sognefjord, Reisefestivalen in Oslo, and were asked to make an appearance at the Christian Radich suite Grand Hotel Oslo at the 25th Anniversary of the American Coordinating Council of Norway's annual 4th of July Weekend Celebration.

Today, they are stepping up their act with high caliber musicians from all corners of the world and ready to take their act to the finish line with the release of their long awaited album "JUST BECUZ" on September 30, 2011.

Band Members