After 10 years in business, it comes as no surprise that L’Assommoir (a.k.a. “the Dram”) is considered to be one of Montreal’s most popular late night hot-spots.

L’Assommoir opened its doors in early 2004, and added one more location in 2009. With two outlets in the bustling city, the restaurant-bar’s warm and friendly atmosphere continues to please  both after-work and late-night crowds by enlisting the city’s most celebrated DJs to perform almost every night of the week.

“Here, music is not background noise, it’s part of L’Assommoir’s global experience,” says co-owner, Victor Charlebois. “Music is integral to our business and we’ve been playing music in our restaurant ever since we opened.”

No stranger to the music business, Charlebois’ commitment to honouring music creators comes from his relation to one of Montreal’s most talented and iconic musicians ever: his father, the legendary, award-winning singer-songwriter, Robert Charlebois.

“For us, music is as important as food, cocktails and our staff.”

One of 30,000 dedicated SOCAN licensed bars and restaurants across Canada to receive a window sticker as part of SOCAN’s Licensed to Play (L2P) campaign, L’Assommoir proudly displays it on their front door to show support for those who create the music that their customers love hearing.

“This sticker is a source of pride for the regulars who’ve noticed it,” says Victor Charlebois.  “Our customers know it means that we provide creative entertainment, and promote Montreal’s homegrown talent, as well as international emerging artists.”

Taking it a step further, Charlebois says, “We support our Montreal emerging artists every Thursday with our Sounds of Montreal, a musical event that is frequently shared on social and other media. It’s an event that amplifies our featured artists’ visibility.”

There’s no doubt L’Assommoir has gained competitive advantage by way of music. ”We may be a little louder than in other restaurants, but for us, music is as important as food, cocktails and our staff.” says Charlebois. “All these things bring us closer to our patrons and keep them coming back.”

The co-owners credit music for greatly enhancing L’Assommoir’s overall customer experience, saying it “creates a contagious energy and plays a significant role in broadening our customer base.”

Says the younger Charlebois: “Our slogan is A universe to drink, eat and see, and we might add and to listen to!”

To learn more and become Licensed to Play, click here.


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Should Vancouver-based rhymer SonReal’s career come to an abrupt end, he can always fall back on motivational speaking.

When asked at what age he discovered a talent for writing rhymes, SonReal (born Aaron Hoffman) flashes a humble side that few rappers ever reveal.

“I was about 15,” he says. “I had a crappy mic and a computer, and I just started downloading beats and rapping to them. My friends said I was good so I just kept going. But I was absolutely horrible. Like, the worst! But the passion was there.”

The rapper cut his teeth at little clubs in Vancouver, and considers himself fortunate to even get a few people come and say he was dope.

“My friends said I was good so I just kept going. But I was absolutely horrible.”

“It took me time to find out what I wanted to say, how I wanted to write songs,” he says. “I’ve spent a lot of time doing this, so when situations get crazy, I’m prepared. If I didn’t go through the open mics, horrible recordings, and low-budget music videos, I wouldn’t be here today.”

“Here” is a place at which many Canadian rappers would be happy to reside. SonReal was nominated for a JUNO Award in the Rap Recording category for the last two consecutive years. The album nominated in 2013, The Closer – a collaboration with Rich Kidddebuted at No. 3 on iTunes Canada’s hip-hop charts. MTV called him “Canada’s latest hip-hop phenomenon,” and the video for “Everywhere We Go” has reached a million YouTube views since being posted last August. SonReal also boasts a prolific work rate: he released three albums in 2012, and has toured incessantly.

So what’s the source of his appeal? He attributes it to his “realness” – being genuine. “I spend time every day replying to fans,” he says. “I work hard at making sure they know they’re the biggest part of my story. I’m just being myself.”

Listen to his lyrics and it becomes evident why so many enjoy him. He can come off as alternately cocky, introspective or vulnerable – or, in his words, “relatable.”

“I think one thing that separates me from other artists is that I’m not afraid to be vulnerable,” he says. “[The song] ‘L.A.’ was inspired by falling in love. I wanted to write about that, but in an indirect way. That’s why the whole song takes place in a kind of ‘horrible day-in-the-life’ format, but at the end of each verse, it ties back to a woman who makes everything feel okay.

“I love writing songs that are open to interpretation.”

FYI
Publisher:
N/A
Discography: Good Morning (2008), The Stroll (2009), The Lightyear Mixtape (2010), Where’s Waldo? (2011), Words I Said (2012), Good News (2012), The Closers (2012), One Long Day (2014)
SOCAN member since 2009
Visit www.sonreal.ca

TRACK RECORD:

  • “SonReal is hard-working and innovative, has a supreme ear as an engineer, and has a heart of gold,” says singer-songwriter/bassist/producer Chin Injeti, who’s worked with Dr. Dre and Eminem.
  • “My love for wordplay goes back to when I first heard hip-hop,” says SonReal. “I was a huge fan of artists like Nas and Outkast.”
  • SonReal says the video for “Everywhere We Go” was inspired by the movie Napoleon Dynamite.

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Like a rabbit from a hat, MAGIC! appeared out of nowhere, a mysterious band whose first single, “Rude,” shot to No. 1 and sold double-platinum in Canada, and got played everywhere across the country – on the radio, in retail outlets, restaurants, bars, and so on.  MAGIC! turned out to be a band of songwriting Canadians based in Los Angeles.

Frontman Nasri Atweh is one-half of the songwriting/producing duo The Messengers (with Adam Messinger), whose credits include Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Christina Aguilera, and most recently Shakira, whose current album includes the song “Cut Me Deep,” co-written by and featuring MAGIC!.

Messinger co-produced the band’s debut album with them, and co-writes songs, alongside Atweh, guitarist Mark Pelli, drummer Alex Tanas, and bassist Ben Spivak.

“Every song is different,” says main songwriter/lyricist Atweh. “Sometimes I’ll write with Mark; sometimes I’ll write by myself; sometimes I’ll write with Adam, but it stays within the five of us.”

“I knew people would like ‘Rude,’ I just didn’t know it would change our lives.” – Nasri Atweh of MAGIC!

Atweh moved to L.A. with Messinger in 2007 to write songs professionally and produce. The duo welcomed fellow Torontonians relocating for the same reasons, and Atweh even let Pelli stay at his apartment, where they immediately began co-writing. “He was playing this reggae groove one day,” says Atweh, “and I said, ‘Dude, I’ve always had this idea of starting a band that was almost like a modern-day Police. I think me and you can do it.’ That was the start.”

That riff became “Stupid Me,” which is on the album. “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool,” another older, Police-inspired song, also made the cut. Now it’s much more than an idea. MAGIC! is signed to Latium Entertainment/Sony International, and has blown up in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all on the strength of “Rude.”

“The MAGIC! album is an introduction to our sound, but also to the way I’ve conducted my love life and the way that I view the world,” says Atweh of the difference between MAGIC! songs and the ones he writes for others. Musically, 70 percent is reggae, another 30 percent is rock-soul, “but with reggae in it.”

Atweh says “Rude” was originally a darker song about an ex- girlfriend, before it turned into a dig at a fictional future father-in-law. “Little Girl” and “Paradise” he calls “quirky,” while “How Do You Want To Be Remembered?” and “Let Your Hair Down” have a deeper Bob Marley & The Wailers influence.

To have a No. 1 hit with a first single has been a crazy experience. “Now, as a professional songwriter, I know the value of a song,” he says. “I know it’s super-catchy, but I didn’t expect [to reach] so many different age groups… I knew people would like it, I just didn’t know it would make us any money or change our lives the way it has.”

FYI
Discography: Album title/date TBA
Publisher:  Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada
Website:  www.ournameismagic.com
SOCAN members since 2011(Tanas), 2004 (Spivak), 2001 (Atweh), 1998 (Messinger, Pelli)

Track Record

  • At press time, the “Rude” video had reached  8 million YouTube views
  • “Rude” has charted at No. 2 in Australia and sold more than 200,000 copies
  • MAGIC! wrote a song for the FIFA 2014 World Cup compilation called “This is Our Time (Agora e’ a nossa hora)”

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