Canadian reggae pop band Magic! are currently at #2 in the iTunes charts with debut single Rude, so when they were in town this week on a promotional tour, we thought it would be Rude not to introduce ourselves...
Led by Grammy award winning producer/song writer Nasri Atweh, he is joined by fellow song writers and musicians Mark Pelli, Alex Tanas and Ben Spivak that make these boys a very creative bunch indeed. We chat to lead singer Nasri about their new single, taking on John Legend in a chart battle, writing for Justin Bieber, things that are rude and travelling with a pillow... It's the SnapCacklePop interview with Magic!
Welcome to SnapCacklePop – firstly how’s the jet lag?
It’s fine - I love falling asleep in the middle of the day!
We did notice (in the below picture) you flew over with your own pillow! Please explain..?
I had a theory right, that when sitting in coach (Economy), a memory foam pillow would be able to change the contour of the seat to make it more comfortable...
Did it work?
A bit! Half of the flight was great and then half of it was just weird! So in summary, I was like a 16 year old girl with a pillow on the flight [Laughs] My band mates were like “Why do you have a pillow?” and I was like “I’m going to change the contour of my seat of course!”
So how are you finding Sydney? What’s surprised you about our great country?
There are SOOOO many hot girls man! The amount of beautiful woman - I was like “Are you kidding me?” [Laughs] In all seriousness the country is beautiful.
So, for those SCP readers, who may not yet heard of your unique sound, give us a quick run down.
We’ve been a band for a year, however I have been writer and an artist for a lot longer. I found writing for other people generated an income and I got very lucky writing for some big stars, however I have always stayed focused on the bigger prize of being an artist in my own right. Then I met Mark, who was playing this reggae sound and said to him I had always wanted to create a modern day Police sound, crossed with a bit Bob Marley type of thing. Yet you have to meet the right type of musicians to do this type of thing with and Mark has a great way in playing the guitar and we said "hey lets put a band together". And then Alex and Ben joined and we formed Magic!
And the name Magic! How did you come up with that?
We were writing together and it was all so magical. So we said "lets be Magic!"
Are any of you magicians?
No, we could barely shuffle a pack of cards in a cool way.[Laughs]
You have been described as both reggae pop and rock pop, where do you think your music more sits?
The album has a variety of everything, however reggae throughout, but there is a lot of pop, rock elements and some soul thrown in there too.
Who are your influences?
It has been bands like The Police, No Doubt, UB40 and then some of the deeper reggae that never made mainstream but we love it. As a singer, personally I am a big Stevie Wonder fan and more recently Bruno Mars is a fantastic pop star and even Justin Bieber. I’ve worked with him many times and he’s such a gifted kid but getting a bit of flack right now!
So your debut single Rude is riding still at No.2 on iTunes charts and #3 on the official ARIA charts, how you feeling about that?
Well we definitely want to get to #1 here in Australia, that would be great
So what are the tactics you guys secretly planning to knock John Legend of the top spot?
We are going to show up to his show tomorrow and take it over. [Laughs] It’s mad actually, as we were told yesterday there is like only 500 sales difference between us!
Are you frantically downloading the song 500 times on iTunes then?
For sure! However as we are such nice guys, we’d most probably buy 500 copies of John Legend's single too! [Laughs]
The song sings of a rejected marriage blessing from a girls father, is this based on a true life event?
No no. I wish it was, however it would have been a horrible experience. It was just a fun song. The hook came from a darker place when I was in a relationship and when the anger subsided after 3 months I re-wrote it and it ended up as Rude.
Where do you usually gather songwriting inspiration?
My life mostly. 90% of it is based on my life or my own personal drama. As a band we are all writers and we have all contributed to the album
You guys have said new single Rude is a “fun, soulful, easy, and you know the hook right away. That's what we want our songs to do." Is this what we should expect from the album?
Yeah for sure – so many catchy and fun tracks however also some serious and musical tracks. Like Let Your Hair Down is grabbing everyone when we play it live and is like an old Wailers song. And then we have a track called No Evil that plays on the saying "Speak No, Say No, Hear No Evil". A very cool concept - [Begins to sing] “I will speak no evil and I will see no darkness and I will only hear your voice” till the demons go back to where they belong! A lot of play on words man.
How important is online social media engagement in connecting with fans and your overall success so far?
Alex our drummer runs that part for the band and is totally all over it. Our fans are really engaging with what we are doing, from games , interactions and keeping them updated. Its been such a great way for us to connect with our fans.
So Nasri, you have had quite a discography already, writing and producing great tracks for David Guetta, Cheryl Cole, Boyzone, Jason Derulo, and Justin Bieber. Why step into the spotlight now or do you want to be the next Justin Bieber?
Yeah man. [Laughs] It’s always been my dream on mine since a young age and I have always been a performer. I was a dancer for years and writing was a side line that help bring in the money. However when I started getting calls from some big pop stars and writing more for others, I was like “hang on, this is not want I fully want”, I wanted to be an artist in my own right, so I took the steps with the boys in the band and now feels like the timing is right!
Being a new band in the pop world, what advice would you give to any other start up bands looking to get gigs or air playing time?
I think its about creating something unique and doing something that someone hasn’t done before.
So plans for 2014?
Stay focused as a band, release some more music and get on tour.
SnapCacklePop Big 5 Questions...
So Magic! is an interesting name for a band, however do you believe in magic? and is so what’s your favorite magic trick?
Not sure I believe in “magic” but I believe in illusion and my favourite illusion is to watch a really talented dancer, like Michael Jackson when he did the moonwalk.
You are quite a handsome bunch, who takes the longest to get ready?
I would say Alex the drummer.
You are originally from Canada, what are the best three things about Canada?
Got to be my family, love downtown Toronto and I love eating at this restaurant right by my place.
Your song is called Rude – what is the rudest thing you have ever seen? John Legend ahead of us in the charts is pretty rude [Laughs] – actually when I was younger I saw a guy getting beaten up in a bar, which is still very vivid in my mind.
Out of all the tracks you heard this year, which one do you think “damm I wish I wrote that?”
That Lorde song is amazing
Who are you listening to at the minute?
Right now, all the British bands. At the minute am into older music like Oasis.
Crikey, now we feel old! [Laughs] Well good luck with getting your single getting to #1 guys however we already think it’s a chart topping track!
Rude is available on iTunes now..!
Rude is available on iTunes now..!