They are known as the duo that has constantly marveled many with their high notes and no autotune. Since the famous years of Tusker Project Fame, the world has witnessed their growth from young aspiring artists to household names behind hits like Nerea, Zingua, Smile and many more that we dance to. But what made the duo leave the music scene at the peak of their music careers? Some have asked. And many still wonder, did the duo break up due to some of the issues that bands face or did their reason for parting go beyond the surface. This is a portrait of Amos And Josh and more about their new patriotic hit release, Niko Juu.
Who are Amos & Josh?
Amos & Josh are brothers. We are men cut from the same cloth who happened to meet so many years back and through the love of God, and music we made something with the name Amos & Josh. What you see from us is what you get.
It has been a bumpy ride for groups yet the reimagined A&J return to the scene as a duo. Tell us the secret, what keeps you together?
Our brotherhood is what binds us together. Beyond music, we are connected by a vision and a purpose which was tested a while back when we drifted and decided to do individual projects. But eventually, we came to the conclusion that it is more powerful and more impactful when we do music as a unit, and as brothers.
That is our secret.
Years have passed ever since you debuted in the music scene. How can you contrast who you were before with who you are now. What has changed?
We have definitely developed as individuals. But it is best to let our music speak for itself; to let the people experience the change through our music.
What stands out right now is that Amos & Josh are focused on the message of love, hope, and faith. This is the message we are amplifying and as you can see on our logo which is rebranded, we have adapted the name #Churchboys because that is who we are. As servants of God, as two brothers who serve in church and as firm believers of love, faith, and hope we’d like people to be hopeful and to get the experience we’ve had which is – love supersedes all.
Boomplay calls us Amos & Josh 2.0 which is true because the difference in the sound, the message and our overall art is evident.
During your four-year-long music hiatus what activities did you focus on and how did they contribute to you individually and to your music
We never stopped singing and we did it together. We were in church, serving in ministry and the break was more like a season of introspection, soul searching, spiritual re-engineering and trying to find who we are as individuals.
Amos: ” I believe the faculty of our foundation is our spiritual being. And through the mentorship of our spiritual father, Bishop Welly Odendo, we were able to learn, develop and get a new light in the way we view the world. This in a way would help us interpret the things that people go through and get to communicate that effectively, to the world.
Because the vision – which involved rethinking what Amos & Josh represent and assessing the message we are supposed to deliver – was more important than our individual goals, we had to go into a season of personal development to have the capacity and to become people who are worthy to carry the message that we now carry.
They say if a vessel is not ready to carry a particular message, it can be pretentious and the message won’t come from an authentic place. So to Amos and Josh, the journey was necessary and not just for the purpose of our music but life in general.
Right now we are pouring ourselves out for mainstream and doing it from a genuine place.
Josh: Let me say that if the hiatus didn’t happen, we’d have been a risk to ourselves and to our listeners.
I would’ve misrepresented who I am, where I am from and I would’ve lost myself further. Thus, it was important for us to realise the much that we were missing out on by desiring our own paths instead of God’s.
What are the risks involved when front line hit artists take a back seat and how did you cope with the risks during your time-out?
It comes down to what makes one tick. As Amos and Josh, it would’ve been riskier for us, for the industry and for the people who listen to us if we didn’t take a time out. Our break came at a rather opportune time when we were just about to release songs that would have misrepresented our sole reason for doing music. And that would have served no purpose aside from adding to songs that are already there.
For instance, there’s a particular song we had done called Nyumba Njema. It told of a very good message and the main idea was if you are dating someone or trying to, get to know what they carry inside rather than focussing on their exterior only. “Nyumba njema si mlango, fungua uingie ndani.”
However, because we wanted to stay relevant and go with the hype of the industry, we put a very bumpy beat to it – ilikua ipumue, iharibu maclubu na matatu – and that’s not all.
When it came to shooting the video, we did the extreme. We got a few people from Jamaica who also went to the extreme, if y’all know what that means, and as a result, we only had the beats but no message. ‘Thank goodness that song will never see the light of day under the name Amos & Josh because it was straight out street ratchet,’ Josh says.
He adds: Far from that, I believe most of us artists are too consumed with the idea of branding. And in this obsession to look or appear a certain way, we forget that brand is a word you use when your name has purpose. When you have consistently and committedly delivered on a certain objective. It should not be about likes and views.
Unfortunately, because not too many artists place emphasis on what it takes, you find younger artists chasing the urge to be called a brand even before they’ve established what purpose they’d like their music/art to accomplish.
Right now we ask ourselves what is it that we are contributing to the industry? Are we consistently willing to stick with it, so that in the long run our name represents something? Such that even when a corporation is coming to partner with our name, they are aware of the market we’re offering and what we represent? This knowledge against the path we had taken before, it’s right to say we were totally missing the point. And because of that, the break had to happen. Perhaps if not, we would’ve never had another Baadaye, Nerea or any other socially conscious song.
Amos: It is necessary to be introspective, so that you never break away from what you believe. Of course, you develop as you grow but at the foundation of it all, there should be your identity. In the race to be relevant, blow up, and all these things Amos and Josh lost it.
We already had a crowd, I just wonder where the deception came from, for us to try things other than what we stood for. With that in mind, the break to us was a blessing. Unfortunately, many artists when they veer off they don’t know how to come back and at times they end up in consequent spaces which explains why sometimes artists do drugs. When you have created this identity that is not your own and you don’t know how to get out of it, the pressure can haunt you and lead you to a path that is hard to come back from.
In regards to that, I see it as a gift to have this pressure removed from us. Right now we don’t have to pretend to be anything else other than what we are since we realized that it is hard to separate art and who one really is as a person.
The internet has been buzzing over your latest release Niko Juu. Fill us in on that.
Niko Juu is a self esteeming, self-appreciative and self-affirmative kind of song which speaks to and about every Kenyan.
It speaks of the Kenyan spirit which is expressed through bravery, confidence and unity despite the challenges experienced by the nation. It also exalts the bravery of every known/unknown person known that is defending and propagating the development of fellow Kenyans and Kenya as a nation.
We are not oblivious of the challenges, mishaps and criticisms that we face as a country. But instead of looking at the glass empty Niko Juu is a positive song that emanates from a glass half full point of view.
Amos and Josh are the artists on the song but we dare not take full credit since the concept was birthed by Bishop Welly Odendo under the Jamhuri project.
Can you tell us more about the Jamhuri Project…
Jamhuri project takes a closer look at the potential, opportunities and overall development of Kenya as a nation. Instead of focussing on the challenges and the setbacks, we chose to highlight the milestones and the beauty of our country.
Ultimately, it is until we realise the opportunities we have as a country in being functional, stable and peaceful that we will understand what we are shielding and defending and in turn develop and grow what we shield and defend.
What message do you want to share with your fans, and to the people who are once again getting reacquainted with the reimagined A&J
This is not to put down the fundamentals of pop culture. Because pop culture demands that you pop and do popping things. And within this culture, there’s always a fight between authenticity and the trendy which is a battle we will have to face consistently. But artistes who have transcended across generations are the ones who fought this culture and stuck to their roots. Those that leveraged trends to market their art or used these trends as a tool for documenting and sensitizing their authentic stories creatively.
Fact is trends just as they come, so do they go. And as Amos & Josh we noticed that making this our lifestyle would not be sustainable. Unlike before, we now believe in having our own market instead of hopping on the flooded market.
One Dj Styles asked us what if Amos & Josh were meant to sing slow songs? What if, But then you find because sometimes you’re told you won’t get gigs if you sing certain music, this triggers you to do what is being done by many.
So it is good that we had a break from it all so that we can regain our authenticity. Does it mean now that we are known as church boys we won’t have groovy music? Of course we will but with a better understanding and with a sense of pride in the art & products that we release. Niko Juu is an example and this is just the beginning.
Check out our new EP that dropped on the 6th of August. It’s called Reimagined AJ because it highlights the AJ that people used to know but reimagined. The EP has four songs which, reflect our milestones in terms of skill, creativity, how we express art and overall development as artists.