Kevin was born in Alaska (in Fairbanks to be exact), but grew up in Argentina since the age of 12. Born of Argentine mother and American father.
Kevin became part of the local rock scene with his argentine band “Instrucción Civica” (“Obediencia Debida”, recorded in 1985, won gold album in Peru). On October 12, 1990, he left to “rediscover” the North America of his childhood. Kevin felt right at home in the big apple, where he settled for almost ten years, with its mixture of cultures and cosmopolitan flair. As he often likes to say, “New York is not the United States”. Shortly after his arrival, he met Hilly Krystol, owner of CBGB’s, who invited him to participate in his future record label. During the ´90s he recorded and played at CBGB’s as a house band, performing every Saturday night. He also played in the Knitting Factory and the Mercury Lounge, among others. In 2000, Kevin decided to return to Buenos Aires, where he settled once again.
“The Nada” is the name of the band founded by Kevin Johansen in New York, where he recorded his first record, also called “The Nada”. This record was later released in Argentina by “Los Años Luz”, and by “K Industrias” in Spain. The album explores various rhythms and elements of the Americas, from cumbias to milongas, and Cuban sounds, all handled with an “almost” pop sound. “Mixture is the future” is the record’s mantra. The Nada surprises constantly due to its eclecticism, bilingual lyrics and the subtleness of its songs. Slowly but surely the record began to conquer critics and audiences, becoming a clear representative of the Buenos Aires alternative music circuit. This record also attracted interest in Spain, resulting in the release by K Industrias. In September 2002, Kevin participated in the Vic Music Market, and offered many concerts in Barcelona and Madrid.
In late 2002, he went back to the studios and recorded “Sur o no Sur”, which was also released by Los Años Luz in Argentina, and by Sony Music for the remaining Spanish speaking countries. What makes this album so special is the permanent surprise. Sur o no Sur, confirms Kevin as extremely ingenious, not only as a songwriter, but also for the way he mixes styles and languages. His privileged voice, ranging from deep Barry White style, to high-pitched Hindu, invades every song and manages to mesmerize from the first track. “Cumbias flamencas, Celtic Sambarera, Hip pop, are just a few of the names with which Kevin himself defines the style of his songs. Because he cannot be defined into one specific style, he often likes to define himself as “de-genreate”, (or lack of specific genre).
2003 is the year Kevin Johansen takes off. The soundtrack of a successful Argentinean TV show with his songs, brings him closer to a broader audience. Tours around Argentina, Uruguay, the U.S., and Spain confirm this great moment. The peak arrived in June 2003, when he performed at the Gran Rex theatre, the largest concert theatre in Buenos Aires, for thousands of fans. In July he arrived in Spain once again with concerts in Madrid, Barcelona and a performance at the Pirineos Sur Festival, where he received raving reviews, and quadrupled his audience from the year before. In October, Kevin traveled to the U.S., where he performed at the Latin MTV awards, and toured Miami, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, to promote the release of his album Sur o no Sur. Finally, Kevin rounded up the year with another successful performance at the Gran Rex in Buenos Aires on December 12.
In 2004, the album Sur o no Sur, was released in México, Spain and Chile, so February and March found Kevin promoting his new production. In Spain he offered full house concerts in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia that had great repercussion among the press.
Between July and August Kevin continued his “Tour o no Tour” for “Sur o no Sur”, in Spain (La Mar de Musicas, Madrid, Barcelona 2004 Forum, Gijón, and Zaragoza), Belgium (Sfinks Festival), and the United States (LAMC and Joe’s Pub in NYC). In October, Kevin and his band The Nada, visited Chile for the first time, where they played at the Theatre “Oriente”, packed with new fans.
The final surprise, or the icing on the cake, for the album Sur o no Sur, was its nomination for three Latin Grammys in essential categories, such as “Album of the Year”, “Song of the Year”, and “Best Video”.
During these trips, Kevin began working on his third album, which he later named “City Zen”. As he says, “it’s about putting up with the chaos of the city, where the music is always present”. Music works as Zen for the city, and the album reflects the urban spirit of the many cities Kevin has lived in throughout his life. The album was presented with great success during two days in December 2004, at the Opera Theatre in Buenos Aires.
Fun, deep, playful, smart, thoughtful, are just a few of the adjectives we could use to define his lyrics. Kevin Johansen deliberately plays with his bilingualism and forces us into his own private world. Let’s enjoy this breeze of fresh air made music.