What happens when you meet reggae royalty? For me, it was an interesting experience on Ziggy Marley's tour bus in October of 2016. Half of me felt a surreal feeling, like it was not happening, and the other half felt it fully, like I was just talking to a regular dude who was receiving a whole load of thought energy from me and the world. It really happened.
In case you don't know, Ziggy is a multi-Grammy award winning artist, most recently in 2015 when he was awarded Best Reggae Album for Fly Rasta. His newest, self-titled album Ziggy Marley was released in May 2016 and peaked at #1 on the Billboard Reggae Chart.
Thanks to Reggae Fate, I had scored an interview with Ziggy a few months prior to us meeting, and talked to him about his music, his parents, and personal life. Here’s the audio version and the transcription (below).
Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Manager: Ziggy, you’re on the line with DJ Kayla Kush.
Z: Alright, thanks.
K: Hey Ziggy, how ya doin’?
Z: Yeah me good, how are you?
K: I’m doing great, thank you so much for calling. Very excited to be talking to you. So where are you calling from today?
Z: Los Angeles.
K: Okay, and where are you usually based?
Z: Los Angeles.
K: Oh you are? What do you like about living there?
Z: Well it’s a new world, it opens up a new space for me. A new exposure, new experience. It grow a person to get out of their regular surroundings and explore other places. So, it’s a nice place for now, who knows what might happen in the future. I might have to explore somewhere else, ya know?
K: Yeah. So tell me a bit about your upcoming album—what did you do differently this time around?
Z: What’s different is we have a more tighter sound on this record, I feel, than the last record. But you know it’s just a natural growth and you really can’t specify so much about what is different rather than experience it when you listen to the music. Besides what I have done musically, I don’t know how different...I mean there’s a difference there obviously but you just have to hear it, ya know?
K: Well shout out to Irie Vibez Productions in Milwaukee who set up this interview...a specific question from Ras Adam of Irie Vibez is: When can we expect a second live album with the family all together again?
Z: Oh, we don’t know that yet right now [laughs]. The idea is a good idea, but right now we just focus pon new album coming out now, ya know? So we have a tour coming up at the end of this month, and we have some work to do before we think out the next thing.
K: Absolutely. So, you probably get asked this a lot, but being Bob Marley’s son, what sort of energy or lessons do you continue to carry on that you learned from him...whether it’s in music or life?
Z: Well you haffi say Bob Marley’s son and Rita Marley’s son—
Z: —because otherwise that’s half the story. Haffi tell the full story. My parents, dem grow us up learning by action. You know me seh? So...we have a positive outlook, and a sense of purpose on this Earth. We do what we do, ya know? And that is something we get from we parents. That sense of purpose... which is more than a selfish purpose. More, more, ya know? So that is my family, and that is how we are, because of my father and mother.
K: Absolutely! Oh Ziggy I love your answer there. You’re right, you’re Bob and Rita’s son, and I couldn’t have asked for a better answer there. And you’re correct there. So I mean the reason I ask about Bob Marley is because of course I have a radio show here and a lot of people are big fans.
Z: Yeah mon.
K: So do you have a favorite Bob Marley album, if it’s even possible to choose?
Z: Well there is not a favorite, but there’s one that I will always remember the impact it had on me, because I love all...all of the music. So Survival was one that I think as a teenager, when I was going through high school, it affected me the most mentally because of its afro-centric point of view, and the militancy and the ideas that was in that album. It’s an album that I played like every day during those years in school, and it kinda give me some consciousness about things which reflected in my life and on my music too, ya know? So that album is something that...I will always remember that album.
K: Absolutely, it’s a great one. So were there any albums or collaborations that your siblings put out that you were pleasantly surprised by?
Z: We are siblings, we are family, so we don’t really…everything just...everything is everything, ya know? [laughs]
K: Yeah, I love it! I mean, it’s funny ‘cause some people have the exact same mentality as you, it’s that everything’s good, you know. There’s things that are your favorite at different times of your life, even.
K: So I was wondering, where did you get the nickname “Ziggy”?
Z: Ziggy? Well Ziggy I mean in Jamaica that’s “small spliff”. When you can’t...when you don’t have enough herb for a big spliff, you roll a ziggy.
Z: That’s you know, like the last...you know?
K: Yes! [laughs] I love it!
Z: Let me get that ziggy...get me that ziggy, ya know? Ha ha ha!
K: [laughs] Pass me the ziggy! Oh I love it.
K: So Ziggy, what other bands or artists have you been listening to a lot lately?
Z: Lately, nothing much really lately, um, just standard...certain music that I always listen to throughout my life. Certain artists like my father, Fela Kuti, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane. Sometimes I listen to what’s on the radio, whether it be Bruno Mars or Beyonce or whatever. But lately I’ve been really rehearsing and getting ready...because when you’re doing this work, you haffi kind of focus in, ya know? It’s more than just...this is like, you haffi focus. It’s time to do this thing and get this message out. So I kind of have to get my mind on what I need to do, ya know?
K: Mm-hmm. So what do you like to do to relax when you’re not playing shows and recording?
Z: Well I like to do nothing.
K: [laughs] Me too.
Z: That’s my favorite thing. Doing nothing is one of the best things. [laughs] But then if I don’t want to do nothing I might watch a movie or something, or go in the garden. Me have a likkle garden where I plant some things sometimes. Peas and tomatoes and stuff like that. Simple, simple little things.
K: Oh yeah, that’s the way to go! So you’re in L.A.—do you have a favorite place to hang out and jam with your band members?
Z: Well we do it inna mi garage, ya know?
K: In your garage?
K: Ha ha!
Z: That’s where we do it right now, ya know? [laughs]
K: Yeah! Right on. So you’ve got the album coming out soon, you said you have a tour coming up as well...where are you headed?
Z: Well we’re heading across the United States. I think we start on the West Coast and just take our time and see how much places we can get to.
K: Yeah. Well big thank you again to Irie Vibez Productions in Milwaukee for setting up this interview, you can find them on Facebook, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter at “djkaylakush”, and of course you can find Ziggy Marley anywhere online. Ziggy, we love you in Madison, and we cannot wait to see you here again.
Z: Love you, love you, love you all. Thank you very much. Love.
K: Thank you so much for doing what you do!