Interview: Ziggy Marley

by Thursday, May 4, 2017

The reggae star on how the Grammys are the least of his worries, his first cookbook and why he doesn’t rely on radio play to determine the success of his career

WHEN THE name ‘Ziggy’ is mentioned in global conversation, it isn’t difficult to know who is being referred to. No other introduction is needed for this world-renowned musician, least of all the ‘Marley’ bit, or the fact that he’s the reggae king’s eldest son.

After more than 30 years in the entertainment industry and global consciousness, this is a first name basis type of situation. It’s like we know him; we love his stuff.

The Jamaican musician has been treating the world to good music and positive vibrations since the beginning of his career in 1979 with the launch of the Melody Makers.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Ziggy exclusively premiered the animated music video for his 2016 single, Butterflies, on Billboard. The visual was produced by his own record label, Tuff Gong Worldwide – which uses the same name as his father’s Tuff Gong International – and is a collaboration between MarcPaperScissor Studios and C3 MotionGraphics.

Ziggy is a proud father and has always been open about the importance of his art’s compatibility with children. He says:

“Everything we’ve been doing has always been compatible with children. What I say, what I write, what I feel about things is not something that is an explicit thing or something children cannot hear.”

ON STAGE: Ziggy Marley performs at London’s Lovebox Festival in 2011

As such, youngsters form a unique part of his fan base and worldwide appeal.

One might even describe the former Melody Maker as a stalwart of children’s entertainment. After all, he’s behind the theme song to popular children’s cartoon Arthur, has performed the voice of troublesome jelly fish Ernie in Disney Pixar’s Shark Tale, sang on the movie’s soundtrack and scooped the Best Musical Album for Children award at the 2010 Grammys.

On that note, he also won the Best Reggae gong at this year’s Grammys and consequently incited criticism from reggae patrons, who were disappointed that, yet again, a member of the Marley family won the accolade.

The streets are talking and they say that the Academy is rigged in the Marleys’ favour, making it difficult – if not impossible – for other worthy talent across the field to take home the coveted prize. To this, Ziggy responds:

“If you look at the history, a lot of the Grammys have gone to us – but we’ve also not received Grammys.

“I’ve also won outside of the Best Reggae category, too.

FAMILY TIME: Ziggy Marley and wife Orly arriving for The LEGO Batman Movie with children from left – Gideon, Judah and Abraham

“It’s just the quality of the music we create.

“It’s not a perfect thing, but it’s what people who vote like – you can’t do anything about that.”

The 48-year-old adds:

“The Grammys are not our biggest problem. Some of the greatest artists haven’t won one.

“Peace and love – that is what we are fighting for. We are not fighting for Grammys.”

In spite of the decline of reggae presence on mainstream radio in the United Kingdom and Jamaica, in particular, Ziggy seems unfazed. He half-dismisses the institution as ‘faddish’. He adds:

“Radio seems to be about what is trendy at the time more than anything else. It will always play a little part in the success of reggae music, but I can’t depend on it, in terms of what I do.

“I have to go out there and play for the people.”

The artist has offered us a glimpse into his kitchen with his first cookbook, entitled Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook: Delicious Meals Made With Whole, Organic Ingredients from the Marley Kitchen.

It is said to contain a fusion of delicious flavours from Jamaica and beyond – but most importantly, using organic ingredients.

THE BROTHERS: From left – Ziggy Marley, brother Robbie, Snoop Dogg and brother Rohan

Health-conscious Marley, who loves to eat oats and a variety of nuts, explains:

“I like doing stuff that I haven’t done before – I like having fun and experimenting.

“Doing the cookbook was something we did on a whim, to be honest – we didn’t have a plan, strategy or anything.”

Ziggy is never known to be too far away from the recording studio.

Just recently, it was announced that, in light of the upcoming 40th anniversary of Bob Marley’s classic Exodus album, Ziggy has curated a ‘restatement’, which will be spread across three separate reissues entitled Exodus 40 – The Movement Continues. He describes the sound as being “refreshing”.

In addition to putting out two free singles since the beginning of this year – I Am A Human and See Dem Fake Leaders, Ziggy has revealed that he is working on a seventh solo album.



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