When it comes to keeping warm during our Canadian winters, sometimes a large mug of steaming hot chocolate just doesn’t do the trick. Luckily, the world has MAGIC! – a Toronto quartet now based in Los Angeles – who are bringing their warm reggae-infused Caribbean vibes to our ears (and hearts). With the recent Australian Gold certification of their single Rude and an upcoming show in Toronto next week on the 18th, it was the perfect time to ask the band some questions.
Ahead of the show, I spoke with MAGIC! frontman, singer, songwriter, and Grammy Award winning producer Nasri Atweh. If you want to know about their forthcoming album, his favourite collaborations, memorable tour moments, and what’s next for the band, dive into our conversion:
AMBY: Congratulations on recent Gold certification of your single Rude!
Nasri Atweh: Thank you, thank you! It’s a pretty awesome achievement.
AMBY: It’s my pleasure. I’ve read how the debut “will help you slip away to a Caribbean Island”, and feel that statement is pretty accurate. As far as songwriting goes on the song, what were your inspirations to give Rude that warm and laid-back feeling?
Nasri Atweh: I think taking the approach as a band to have a little reggae influence in most of our music; it was just natural that one of the songs would get a little more reggae. Some of the songs are more rock, some more soul, but this one went a little more Caribbean and island-y.
AMBY: With the single out since October of last year, what’s next as far as recording goes?
Nasri Atweh: The album is finished; we’re mixing it and that will be done in about a week. Then the album will come out in April.
AMBY: That’s pretty exciting. What can fans expect to hear from the record?
Nasri Atweh: Catchy songs, some really heartfelt stuff, a lot of reggae and rock flavours, and lot of really cool vocal harmonies. Hopefully, what I think are some really cool concepts.
AMBY: We have a release month and know what to expect, but is there a working title yet?
Nasri Atweh: We don’t know. There’s four guys in the band and we all have to pitch in [laughs]. Every day I fight for mine, I honestly think of the most ridiculous ones.
AMBY: What are some that you’ve thrown out there for the band?
Nasri Atweh: One of them was Made by Humans, For Humans. I don’t know, I just get the weirdest titles! What was the other one I came up with? Mark came up with one that was funny. It was kind of wrong, but he called it Fallopian Falcon.
Nasri Atweh: We’re all kind of silly and coming up with these weird titles. Our drummer Alex seriously wants to come up with it, and we just like messing with him [laughs]. I don’t know. From my standpoint, it could be one of the song names. I think once the mix is done and we sit and listen to it as a group, we’ll think of a few usable names. Every day there’s new titles.
AMBY: Well, I look forward to hearing the final album and seeing what you finally come up with after the debate [laughs]. You’re soon playing shows in Toronto and Montreal. What have been some of the more memorable moments you’ve had while on tour?
Nasri Atweh: We were on tour with Modest Magic in September. There was this bridge that we had to drive over which was over water, and it was twenty-six miles long.
Nasri Atweh: It was freaky! And the shows were great; it’s always fun because we’re playing songs that nobody’s ever heard, and this was before Rude was on the radio so nobody knew anything. We would go out to these shows bringing our sound to everybody. It was great to see that out of the two or three hundred people every night, we’d get twenty people following us on the social networks. There was one night that was awesome! I like to move on stage and I always have a mic with a chord, but we were in Orlando at the Hard Rock Cafe… They had this amazing cordless mic that was really expensive. I just went crazy.
Nasri Atweh: They wouldn’t actually let us take footage there. It was this amazing show…
AMBY: You were finally free and they wouldn’t let you tape it! What a shame.
Nasri Atweh: I know. Last time we were in Toronto was great because we played for all of our friends and family. Next week we play at The Mod Club which we hope to make our most memorable show. Now we’re going to have a bunch of our friends and family there, and hopefully lots of new MAGIC! fans because we’ve been on the radio.
AMBY: We’re actually running a giveaway for that show on the site.
Nasri Atweh: [laughs]
AMBY: There have been a lot of entries, so I can assure you that people look forward to the show!
Nasri Atweh: Good, good. We can’t wait.
AMBY: Aside from MAGIC!, you’re also a Grammy award-winning producer and songwriter. Being that, you’ve had the opportunity of working with some extremely talented artists. What’s one of the fondest moments you’ve had while working with an artist or musician?
Nasri Atweh: A lot of my fondest memories aren’t always on the music-side. A lot of the time it’s the conversations I have with the artists, you know? Just to get one-on-one with these stars who are living these crazy lives… When you look into the eyes of a young star who everyone wants and you have a really normal conversation with them… I’ll tell you an example. Justin Bieber and I played excessive ping-pong and we would play for hours during our sessions. That was really the bonding stuff I liked. I really enjoyed the one-on-one friendships with the artists.
AMBY: Aside from music, what are some of your hobbies?
Nasri Atweh: I could go through the band’s. I’d say Mark’s hobby as a guitar player is literally playing the guitar. If he had a guitar in front of him, he would just play the guitar all day, and eat! He’s like a vacuum cleaner with food, he eats up everything. Ben, our bass player, his hobby is definitely watching old footage online of all of the old bands and his favourite artists. Alex and I are kind of activity junkies. Alex is definitely a basketball freak; he does a lot of basketball. My hobby lately is mixed martial arts. Other than that, music is really a hobby for all of us. We all love playing music.
AMBY: Lastly, what’s something about MAGIC! that most people don’t know?
Nasri Atweh: We can play a lot of instruments.
Thank you MAGIC!, for giving us your answers.
Alicia Atout | @AliciaAtout