10 Questions with ... Nasri Atweh
September 26, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Nasri Atweh is a singer, songwriter, record producer and the lead vocalist/lyricist for the reggae fusion band MAGIC! The group also includes Mark Pellizzer (guitar), Alex Tanas (drums) and Ben Spivak (bass). Magic!'s single "Rude" from their 2013 album "Don't Kill The Magic" became a major international #1 multi-format hit.
Nasri is also part of the writing and production duo "The Messengers" alongside Adam Messinger. He helped drive the reunion of the New Kids On The Block in 2007. He wrote songs for and toured with them, often joining them on stage. Nasri has also written for other major label artists such as Justin Bieber, David Guetta, Shakira, Cody Simpson, Boyzone, JLS, Kat Deluna, Elliott Yamin, Jason Derulo, Akon, Pitbull, Christina Aguilera, Chris Brown, Big Time Rush, Iggy Azalea, Michael Bolton, Peter Andre, JoJo, Jay Sean, Vanessa Hudgens, No Angels, and Iyaz.
The Messengers are a Grammy-winning production team. Their work has resulted in two Grammy Award nominations in 2011 for "Best Pop Vocal Album" for Justin Bieber's "My World 2.0", "Best Contemporary R&B Album" for Chris Brown (Graffiti), and a win for "Best R&B Album" for Chris Brown "F.A.M.E." in 2012, and their collaboration with Justin Bieber / Rascal Flatts in "That Should Be Me" that won a 2011 CMT Music Award for "Best Collaborative Video."
1. What was it that got you interested in writing songs and producing music?
At first it was something that I needed to sell myself as an artist. I was 17 years old and I needed to make a demo. It wasn't very good but I loved being in the studio and being around great musicians. I remember being introduced to the album "Songs in the Key of Life" by Stevie Wonder, and I was like, "How do I make something like this?" So I just kept on writing and still do trying to reach this impossible goal.
2. As half of the production and writing team "The Messengers," you have written and produced some of the biggest names in music including Christina Aguilera, Justin Bieber, Pitbull, David Guetta, Shakira and others. Please tell us how you formed "The Messengers" and how you broke into songwriting to make so many hit records?
Adam and I have always had a special bond and creative understanding. No one would give me a record deal and Adam had always produced my solo material. When I decided to write for other people out of survival, my gut said that we should be a team. With a little luck and help from friends in the music scene we landed the New Kids on the Block "Reunion" album. After we got a taste for it we hustled for more and more jobs and had some great opportunities.
3. At what point did you decide to step out front as a performer and form Magic!?
I had always been making my own music while I was writing for other artists. About seven years ago I had completely lost my voice, and I thought I would never sing again.
I was introduced to a vocal coach named Gary Catona, and within two days he opened up more range than I thought I had. He gave me access to my "mix head" voice. I had never used this part of my voice and was listening to "Roxanne" by The Police and I could hit the notes the way Sting was. A month later on my birthday, I asked Adam if we can make something for fun. The song is called "Mama Didn't Raise No Fool". Everyone that heard it was like "this is you!" Four years later I met Mark Pellizzer (our guitar player) and I knew it was the start to something special.
4. What was the inspiration for your new single "Red Dress?"
My life, my fiancée takes forever to get ready ... but she always looks incredible when she's done (and before too!) LOL! Musically, I called it "Billy Joel Reggae" because it's got his classic but hip musical feel to it. I'm a big Billy Joel fan!
5. I recently had the pleasure of attending your listening party with a handful of music and radio folks at The Record Plant in Hollywood for a preview of your new album "Primary Colors". One song that really stood out to me was a powerful love song called "No Regrets." Please tell us what inspired you to write this song?
Thank you for remembering that song and for coming. It was an awesome night! "No Regrets" is by far one of the most personal songs I've been a part of writing. The lyrics came out like tears out of my eyes. I needed to write this to show her that I love her. It's about recognizing that something is off, but fighting for a new start because we still have the love for each other.
6. Please describe your experience the first time you heard your song on the radio?
We were in Australia we had just gotten into the van from the airport and "Rude" was playing. We just smiled and listened like kids. It is a moment we will treasure.
7. You've had some great accomplishments over your career. Please tell us what it was like winning a Grammy, and the thrill you must have had watching "Rude" rocket up the charts to become a #1 hit?
Thank you. I have been very fortunate that my music has connected with people. It's all I've ever wanted. Winning a Grammy was unexpected but a big day for Adam and I, and of course Chris Brown who made a great album.
Watching "Rude" go to number one was like a really good movie with no villain, just the final scene where everyone makes out.
8. What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
That's hard to answer that because I don't know where it comes from? Sometimes I just open my mouth and I'm singing something like I'm just a vessel for a songwriter. Then other times I'm very much in it and in control. For "Red Dress" it was just coming out of me very naturally.
9. How are you using social networks to connect with your fans?
Like friends do. We post and chat and share and try our best to get to know them. If you don't see me Snap Chatting it's because I'm in the studio or playing with my kids. But I enjoy goofing around.
10. How has Magic! grown as a band since you started? What have you learned along the way?
We learned how to play live TOGETHER. We learned how to push and not push each other's buttons. We learned that if we want to get to the top we have to work very very hard.
How did you come up with the name Magic!? What other names were you considering?
Magic came from the song "Don't kill the Magic" from our first album . It just felt like we had a special musical connection, a " magical " one.
What other songs on your new album "Primary Colors" are you excited to share with your fans?
We've been playing them live and "Gloria" definitely stands out. It's fun, it rocks out and the crowd is with us!
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I'm a big Stevie Wonder fan. Bob Marley, the Police, Babyface, Paul Simon (more these days) and the Beatles have shaped us all.
What are your plans for the future?
We're just looking forward to touring this album in the New Year!