plus Tyler Shaw
MAGIC! is a Toronto-bred, Los-Angeles-based quartet who scored the song of the summer, “Rude” – a buoyant reggae-pop tune that held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks, charted in 41 countries, sold more than ten million singles and boasts over one billion views on VEVO. Now, MAGIC! is back with the smash hits ‘Kiss Me’ and their upcoming single ‘Core’ ahead of their third album, Love & Ego.
Over the past four years MAGIC! has established itself as a bonafide sensation thanks to its undeniably catchy sound, superlative songwriting, and masterful musicianship. The band, which includes lead singer Nasri, guitarist Mark Pelli, drummer Alex Tanas, and bassist Ben Spivak, released Primary Colours in 2016 with the Caribbean-tinged “Lay You Down Easy” (featuring Sean Paul), which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Reggae Digital Songs chart and racked up two million Spotify streams and one million VEVO views in its first two weeks.
Produced by Nasri and Adam Messinger (who as Grammy-winning production duo the Messengers, have scored hits for Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Shakira, Chris Brown, Pitbull, and Christina Aguilera), and with production assists from Pelli and Tanas, Primary Colours is the sound of a band that has come into its own. “Each of these guys is a phenomenal musician and they all stepped up in various capacities, whether it was writing, playing, or producing,” says Nasri. “Mark is extraordinary and plays everything to the highest degree. He has these amazing colors. Alex really grew as a producer and was stronger about sharing his opinion, and Ben is always open and very melodic, he played all over the record. My bandmates are always shocking me with what they can do musically. Everyone’s contribution is always full-hearted.”
The creative bond that the band members have developed is palpable in the good-natured bounce of the music on Primary Colours, as are the rhythms the four have soaked up through their worldwide travels. In 2015 they toured as first support for Maroon 5 and performed headlining shows across the U.S., South America, Asia, and Europe. “We definitely had that spiritual connection to the cultures we visited,” Nasri says. “We’re all natives of Canada, but we have different heritages. But when we get together, the guitar and the bass come out and we start to go with it. When we were in the studio making Primary Colours, the more rock-oriented songs started to give way to the groovier songs, and we thought, ‘This is us, We are this fusion band.’ It’s like home for me. I’ll make a song and if something doesn’t feel right, I’ll try a reggae melody or beat and it suddenly feels great …
In the time between making Don’t Kill the Magic and Primary Colours, Nasri also gave himself a musical education, diving into records by reggae stars Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Peter Tosh. He also immersed himself in The Beatles catalog and records by Paul Simon. “Growing up we had no money, so I only listened to the radio,” he explains. “It wasn’t until my ’20s that I started getting into Stevie Wonder and early Police. I didn’t know anything about The Beatles, just the hits. Now I know 70 of their songs. And I’ve realized, ‘Oh, I’m getting all of this from Paul McCartney.’ And I think being in this band with these super-talented guys — Mark and Ben are both jazz musicians — has given me more of an internal license to explore things. I feel like a kid in MAGIC!. It’s very pure.”