Leading Juno nominee Magic! has more tricks coming, singer promises | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Leading Juno nominee Magic! has more tricks coming, singer promises

Mark Pellizzer, Ben Spivak, Nasri Atweh and Alex Tanas (left to right) of the music group Magic! arrive at the iHeartRadio Ultimate Pool Party at Fontainebleau's BleauLive at Fontainebleau Miami Beach on June 28, 2014 in Miami Beach, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Photo by Jeff Daly/Invision/AP
March 13, 2015 - 2:17 PM

TORONTO - After spending a year reaching for pop music's brass ring, Magic! mastermind Nasri Atweh has lately been more into a different kind of hoop.

You might have seen the Toronto native at the NBA's recent celebrity all-star game, wearing the jersey of Raptors guard Kyle Lowry and performing (of course) the band's gently reggae-scented chart-topper "Rude."

And reached by phone recently in Nashville, Atweh was still catching his breath after shooting around at the local YMCA.

"We just picked up a couple games here," said a cheerful Atweh, who divides his NBA loyalties between Toronto and the two teams in L.A., his adopted home. "It's the way we stay fit."

Doesn't he get recognized on the court, given that he authored a contagious summer air freshener that topped the U.S. charts for six straight weeks?

"It's funny, when I first walk in, people give me that look like: 'Do I know you?' But they probably don't," he replied. "I don't think I'm that recognizable yet.

"Hopefully, the music stays the most recognizable thing."

It's a rare moment of studied modesty from the typically cocksure Atweh.

It doesn't worry him that the band has yet to land a second single in the U.S.

He points out that "Rude"'s lingering on the charts there is a positive development, and that Canada is the only country in which Magic! has tried another trick (resulting in two more top 25 songs here).

How about sales for June's full-length "Don't Kill the Magic," which remain shy of Atweh's admittedly grand ambition?

"It's just starting," he responded. "For us to reach our goal, which is a million, it's going to take three or four songs.

"So far everybody who has bought the album — thank you very much — has loved it, and responded the same way: 'I could listen to it from top to bottom.'"

His confidence was validated by the Juno Awards, which serenaded the quartet with a leading five nominations heading into this weekend's gala in Hamilton, including best single, songwriter and breakthrough group of the year.

Atweh's deep well of self-assurance is largely funded by his past as a successful hired-gun songwriter, working as one half of the production duo the Messengers, with Adam Messinger. Together, their hits included Pitbull's "Feel This Moment," Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never" and Iggy Azalea's gold-certified T.I. collaboration "Change Your Life."

"It's really hard to stop a writer," he said. "Writers are putting in the foundation that's always been there since the days of the Shire.

"That's a 'Hobbit' reference," he added helpfully. "I love 'The Hobbit.'"

Assembled as a band not long before this charmed ride began, Magic! was still getting to know one another as they hit it big.

Now, they're growing closer.

"We're best friends," Atweh declared. "We're brothers. We get in tiffs, but only because everyone's trying to constantly make it better.

"More than anybody else, we're pressuring ourselves."

The newness of it all can't be overstated. Perhaps it's easy to ward off encroaching cynicism when you rang in the New Year shivering on TV next to Ryan Seacrest and Taylor Swift (of whom Atwesh gushes: "Yo, she is a cool chick.")

In other words, you might be sick of "Rude" — but Magic! isn't.

"I like the song," Atweh said. "Obviously I'm not married and I didn't have that actual experience, but it's a catchy song.

"We're such a new band," he added. "We're not sick of anything yet. Let's have this conversation in two years and I'll probably be like: 'Yeah, I hate that song.'

"But right now? No, it's a newborn baby. You just want to cuddle it all day."

Follow @CP_Patch on Twitter.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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