Ziggy Marley: Interview with Ziggy Marley

Released on Tuff Gong Records, Love Is My Religion exerts the soulful upbeat groove of the Caribbean island culture, with writing strictly “from the heart.”

“The initial writing came while we were on the road and traveling. I remember writing songs when I was in Hawaii, and I wrote some songs in Jamaica. When we started recording the first tracks, they are sort of just a template and a spirit,” Marley points out. “We are just channeling the vibe. Then we might go back and push up the tempo. It is all templates. I could write one verse or one chorus and then when the time comes, I just finish writing it. Sometimes it takes years, you know.

Dragonfly was my first solo record. It is was all about getting out, and the ideals of freedom,” explains Marley. “The recording process was a little bit more apprehensive than the Love Is My Religion record because it was my first solo album, and I was working with a producer.” As laughter follows, Marley continues: “Yeah, working with a producer, that was work.”

The critically acclaimed debut solo disc was produced by longtime R.E.M. producer Scott Litt and featured tracks with John Frusciante and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, as well as Incubus’ Chris Kilmore.

“But for this album [Love Is My Religion], we tried to set an initial vibe and create the record with love. It was more spiritual and more emotional. The process was very spontaneous, as if the music was just pouring out of me. I was playing things on guitar in the studio that I didn’t practice, but the result was beautiful and the lyrics became personal. The sessions had that spirit, which is why I say that love is my religion, because love is beautiful.”

A cultural voice has always been an important personalized aspect of an audience’s connection with the artists they admire. This is a truth not just of American music but world music, which dates back to the tribal rhythms of West African civilization, to the tribulations of pain and suffering present in the American blues, and even to the lyrical smoothness of Martin Luther King’s civil rights speeches. A culture’s most cherished connection to their artists is built upon the significance of their rhetoric.

Bob Marley was one of those artists, an artist speaking for the people, and when asked if a cultural voice is a specific musical pursuit, Ziggy Marley responds. “It is up to people to decide what the music means to them, whether it be spiritual or cultural; it is what it is. I do what I do,” he admits. “I don’t think about it. My songs are like wild weeds in the wilderness. I don’t have to plant a seed for them to grow.”

But now in the modern era of civil unrest, religious fundamentalism, and crimes against humanity, the question must be posed: Will there ever be another artist to rise to the forefront of American culture and speak on behalf of the people? Could there ever be another musical figure as influential to our society as Bob Dylan, John Lennon or Bob Marley?

“There will never be another Bob Dylan or Bob Marley figure,” answers Marley. “We have to try and stop comparing people to them. We are living in our generation. We did not live in Bob Dylan time. There is a new generation of people now.

“Some of these kids don’t even know or understand about Bob Dylan or even Bob Marley. Pop music or modern rock bands are what they recognize as their culture,” proclaims Marley. “For this generation, I don’t think it is about individuals anymore, because the music industry has changed so much. The Bob Dylans or John Lennons of our time are not the attention of the media. My father once said, ‘it is not all glitter that is gold,’ and that seems to be what people are focusing on, the shiny stuff. They like to give attention to the stars because they are pretty, but they fail to realize that the sun is shining.

“That is what I think. It is because of society and being in a cultural world run by the ‘music business.’ Music was once an important part of society, but people don’t look at it that way today. They think of it as a business. Instead of realizing that music is really cool for the people and that it should be delivered to the people, all they care about is making money. It doesn’t matter what the music sounds like or what it is saying. All the industry cares about is if the music can make them money or not.”

And in an industry where the standard of obtaining fame is subordination, Ziggy Marley is inspiration to the dying breed of performers which music fans can convincingly call a cultural figure.

Ziggy Marley will be appearing at Irving Plaza in NYC on Nov. 9 and at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park on Nov. 15. For more information including additional tour dates, Ziggy Marley’s homepage can be viewed at ziggymarley.com