Q&A: Ziggy Marley
Throughout his lengthy career, reggae superstar and Bob Marley progeny Ziggy Marley has managed to maintain his independence -- something about which he is particularly proud.
"My greatest accomplishment is the freedom for doing what I want to do with my music," Marley told SoundSpike.
"I am not with a big record [company] or anything like that. I own my music. I am an independent musician. I am an independent artist. I think every artist wants to be independent. These real artists want to have this independence to express themselves freely without being told or controlled. I think that is my accomplishment. Getting that freedom is something that is great for me. I love my freedom so I'm happy I am a free artist."
Marley is celebrating that freedom on the first leg of his "Forward to Love" North American jaunt, which begins Friday (9/9) in Tucson, AZ. The run is in support of his fourth solo collection, "Wild and Free." The "Forward to Love" tour will feature a number of intimate engagements at a variety of theaters and clubs in major U.S. and Canadian markets, as well as festivals like Earthdance in the Bay Area and Doheny Days in Orange County, CA.
Since the release of "Wild and Free," the five-time Grammy winner has been touring tirelessly around the world in support of the album, including supporting dates with Shakira on her "Pop Festival" tour in South America, and appearing at such festivals as Lovebox and V Fest in the U.K., Summer Sonic in Japan and the Montreux Jazz Fest in Switzerland.
Marley spoke to SoundSpike about the inspiration behind "Wild and Free," his thoughts on marijuana and hemp, and the joys of working with producer Don Was.
SoundSpike: Are you looking forward to your tour?
Ziggy Marley: Yeah, very much.
What can we expect from the show?
I think music has grown a lot, so I think the music is much better. I think it's got a very strong vibe, a very strong spirit. I think people can expect a really good experience.
Does the set list mainly draw from the new album?
No, we'll play a wide variety of songs. The new album was made with playing live in mind, so I've just come from Europe, I've been to Japan and it's coming across very well live. So we're playing a few songs from the new album but also from previous records.
What was the inspiration behind the album "Wild and Free"?
Well, the inspiration I think is nature, and spirituality and love. The "Wild and Free" song expresses my support of using hemp and the cannabis plant to benefit the planet beyond the smoking side of it. It's very useful in other ways. It can replace plastics. These containers that we use sometimes are not biodegradable. With hemp, we can actually help the planet. That song has a theme in it, and it was something I wanted to express a lot in this record.
Isn't that frustrating when a lot of government officials don't agree with that?
It's hypocritical, especially with this ideal of green revolution and environmentalism being touted by politicians and activists. In my opinion, there's no way you can have a green revolution or even environmentalism to impact the world without use of this plant. This plant is made for this purpose. This plant is an environmental resource. It's just hypocritical. I think the government and the corporations that are touting this idea are only pacifying the people. They're only pacifying us because ... there cannot be a green revolution without this plant.
How do you feel that "Wild and Free" fits in with catalog?
I think it's a good fit. I think as a songwriter I've grown a lot. I've decided on this sound for this album, this direction musically. The most important part of my music is the words, the lyrics. If you can check the words, then [you'll see] there's real substance.
I'm definitely a lyrics person, so I've checked out the words.
I like that. We're missing that. We're more into entertainment. We're missing the truth and light. This is our job. This is our mission. You have some people who are entertainers and who make us laugh, and make us be entertained. That is a part of what we do, but the majority of what we do is to shed light and do shed consciousness and to give a message.
What was the songwriting process like? Did you write in the studio or before?
I write before. But then once we're in the studio, we get more ideas and things like that. My writing process is a solitude. I'm in solitude when I write songs. For this record, it was me spending time with ideas and at times getting frustrated because maybe the idea wasn't coming to me. But you learn to have patience in songwriting and have faith and trust in the source of your inspiration. It eventually comes to you. If you can believe that what we do is more done about us. It's not about me, it's about a higher force that gives us ideas, gives us thoughts and gives us words to put into music for the people.
Do you ever work with outside songwriters?
Rarely, rarely. I'm a shy person. So it's not easy. It has to be something special to work with someone. It's not something that's natural to do. It's a very intimate experience to write songs, my songs. It's not a job, it's not business. It's a whole experience.
How was it to work with Don Was?
Don is a friend of mine. We worked on the last record, which was a children's album, "Family Time." Don and I have the same idea about music, that music, for me, it just has to be natural. It has to be real and true. It cannot be pretend. It cannot have any ambition more than making music that feels good. It can't make music to compete with other music. To compete with something that it's not. We're very relaxed people. We're very musically spiritual people. We believe in real music that grooves and has a spiritual element to it, beyond the popular sound of what's happening out there. We're not into that. We're into what feels good on a spiritual level. That is what we do. We think alike like that. He's a good friend of mine so I enjoy working with him.
9 - Tucson, AZ - Desert Diamond Casino
10 - Camp Verde, AZ - Cliff Castle Casino
11 - Dana Point, CA - Doheny State Beach (Doheny Days)
20 - Saratoga, CA - The Mountain Winery
21 - Agoura Hills, CA - Canyon Club
25 - Atlantic City, NJ - Montbleu Casino Resort
27 - Vancouver, British Columbia - The Vogue Theatre
28 - Seattle, WA - Showbox at the Market
30 - Bend, OR - The Courtyard
1 - Portland, OR - Roseland Theater
4 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot
6 - Grand Junction, CO - Mesa Theater and Club
7 - Aspen, CO - Belly Up Aspen
8 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
9 - Boulder, CO - Fox Theatre
11 - Minneapolis, MN - First Avenue
12 - Des Moines, IA - People's
14 - Chicago, IL - The Cubby Bear
15 - Grand Rapids, MI - The Intersection
16 - Bloomington, IN - Bluebird Nightclub
18 - Cleveland, OH - House of Blues
21 - New York City, NY - Best Buy Theater
22 - Tarrytown, NY - The Tarrytown Music Hall
23 - Westhampton Beach, NY - Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
26 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
27 - Glenside, PA - Keswick Theatre
28 - Ridgefield, CT - Ridgefield Playhouse
29 - Asbury Park, NJ - Stone Pony
30 - Silver Spring, MD - The Fillmore