How could we possibly describe this interview, but to say that were truly honored to be able to sit down with Ziggy Marley at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. It’s not often that one gets to sit down with one of their musical and life inspirations, but fortunately it happened in Manchester, Tennessee…
Ziggy Marley Interview on Moe Train’s Tracks
Ziggy Marley, Brian Kracyla and Monty Wiradilaga
Moe – We’re sitting backstage in Ziggy Marley’s tour bus. Ziggy, thank you very much for being on the podcast.
Ziggy – Good brah!
Moe – So how are you feeling about Bonnaroo? Are you feeling the love?
Ziggy – Ya mon. Bonnaroo, you know, is good.. is good feh see so much people together and just enjoying music and love. You know.. It’s great. It’s a great environment.
Moe – Absolutely. I’ve been speaking to many people about who they’re most looking forward to seeing at Bonnaroo.. And I’ll tell ya, about every single person that I had spoken to was very, very excited about your set…
Ziggy – Yeah?
Moe – And they were all out there.
Ziggy – Yeah mon.
Moe – “Love Is My Religion”.. I keep hearing you say, “love is all we need.” How does that shape your life?
Ziggy – Well that, I mean, what it is, is a gradual realization of the true concept of spirituality or the true concept of God. You know, because from when I was a young child coming up, we were about God, you know, we went through Christianity. We were still lookin’ for the truth. How do I identify myself in terms of that aspect, in terms of this religious aspect, spiritual aspect… What is it really? What do I call it? Am I a Christian? Am I a Rasta? What am I? And what is the direction that I should be goin’? So after a while, it just gradually come to me that love is really… Love is the answer. Love is the answer to everything that I was questioning.
Moe – You were looking for the truth, and love is the truth.
Ziggy – Yeah. So the truth for me doesn’t lie within the rituals of religion or the traditions of religion. Love is the truth, ya know? So, that is what I came to realize a few years ago, and just to put it in a terms that people can understand is “Love Is My Religion,” ya know?
Moe – It feels to me that you’ve written an anthem for a generation with “Love Is My Religion.” It feels that in this day and age, there’s not enough love, and what you’re telling everyone is… everyone does need love. Do you feel that your message is being received well?
Ziggy – Yes, I think so. Everywhere I go, it’s been received well and I believe that.. the good thing about love is that love don’t have any enemies. So even if, I mean, even if people are there who are Christians, Muslims, or whatever… You still can say that, ’cause it’s love. You know… You really can’t fight love. Like, you can’t have anything against love.
Moe – It’s true.
Ziggy – You know what I mean? I think it’s been received well and it’s hard work still to get the message out there ’cause I have to be on the road. My music and what I do is not something where I can sit down and depend on upon a TV or the radio or the media generally, to promote what I’m doing. What I’m doing, I have to get out there and do the footwork… The soldierwork. And that’s what we’re doin’ right now. That’s the only way I can get that message out properly, ya know?
Moe – Some musicians deal more with political aspects. I feel as though you deal more with the person… The social aspects. The human condition, I would say.
Ziggy – Yeah, well I’ve done political stuff, ya know. There was a point where I kinda understood… ‘All right, well, ya know what? The solution is not in politics or even social things. The solution is within the individual…’ To find love, that is the solution to the world’s problems. It is not democracy, it is not communism, nor capitalism… It is not religion, it is not charity, it is for human beings to find love within themselves. This is the solution for everything. Everything else is secondary. If you have democracy without love, it ain’t gonna work. If you have communism wit… Nuttin’ gonna work without love! Nuttin! So let’s find love first, and then we’ll find everything else!
Moe – Speaking of love… We were in the pit area during your performance. I was just taking a look around and you could see a huge smile on everyone’s face.
Ziggy – (Smiles and laughs)
Moe – A huge smile! It was great. It was almost as if you were putting your hands in the air over your head to channel the power of everyone in the crowd.
Ziggy – Yeah.
Moe – Is that how you feel?
Ziggy – Yeah, well that I mean.
Moe – Are you just feeling the music?
Ziggy – Yeah, yeah weh… You know, we’re transmittin’ vibrations, ya know. We’re communicatin’ with more that words and more than music. We’re communicatin’ with vibrations. So that is a form… that is a way of communication from me. So, ya know, puttin’ up my hands is very symbolic of just trying to soak up and tryin’ to give back healing power, ya know?
Moe – The people in the crowd were definitely soaking up your power as well.
Ziggy – Ya mon.
Moe – When you went solo…when you recorded “Dragonfly.” How was it getting away from playing with your family for so long with The Melody Makers? How was that transition?
Ziggy – Well ya know, I mean, feh me it wasn’t.. it was not a difficult thing. I do what I have to do. I do wherever life is taking me… I go without any resistance. So I’m just going with the flow. So the flow took me there and I didn’t fight it. I didn’t think about it, I didn’t judge it, I didn’t do anything, I just went with it.
Moe – So it felt natural.
Ziggy – Yeah. So I just flow with it. But I think one of the main things why that flow is like that, is because we are a family anyway. Yeah, so for me, it wasn’t like a breaking up of anything. You know because we are family.
Moe – Family’s family.
Ziggy – Yeah, that exists up to now, so we still have that togetherness, ya know?
Moe – In “Dragonfly,” you sort of changed your style a little bit. I felt.. It seems like you went a little jazzy, acoustic rock style, or bluesy?
Ziggy – Yeah well… Whatever it was, it was. I didn’t.. I never put any names, I didn’t try to do anything. I didn’t try to go jazzy bluesy, I just played what was coming out at the time. That’s what we do as artists. We just give what we have at the time. I don’t try to shape my music in any particular way. I try to just make it be natural. And so I think that “Dragonfly” was a very musically adventurous record, which is the way I am. I’m very adventurous. And so, you know, as I said, we’ll go with the flow and that’s what was happening with me at the time. For me, as an artist/musician, we try to lead the people. That means… What I do is not try to do what people want, because I’m an artist.
Moe – Exactly.
Ziggy – I have to do what my heart tells me. I have to lead them to me. I can’t follow them to where they are, I have to bring them to where I am.
Moe – You wanna be true to yourself like you say in your song!
Ziggy – Yeah! That is where we are. We have to bring the people to where WE are… and that’s just how it is, ya know?
Moe – Staying true to yourself, like in your music… Is it hard when people are judging what you’re doing?
Ziggy – It’s not hard for me. I wish people would get the message of the music. Ya know, mainly it’s critics who have opinions, it’s not people. Ya know, people enjoy whatever! ‘Hey! I enjoy..’
Moe – Yeah! Exactly!
Ziggy – It’s those who think they have that authority of criticism. But it doesn’t bother me, because feh me… I kinda am strong and believe and believe in what I am doing. I’m not here halfway. I’m here full way.
Moe – That’s good.
Ziggy – I believe in what I’m doing. I know what I’m doing have a purpose. So, there’s no detractors or negative energy that could make me even double think what I’m doing or think twice about what I’m doing ’cause I know what I’m doing, ya know?
Moe – Speaking of critics, I saw on your website that you said about family members… About how people tend to say that ‘Oh, Ziggy’s better than the other brothers.’ How does the family deal with that?
Ziggy – We don’t deal with it. There’s nothing to deal with.
Moe – You just flow?
Ziggy – Yeah. There’s nothing to deal with. That doesn’t effect us in any way shape or form. My bruddahs know me, my sistahs know me, we know each other… That’s it!
Moe – How would you describe your brothers?
Ziggy – Steve, who is the next eldest to me in terms of the male in the family… We call him “Raggamuffin,”
Moe – (Laughs)
Ziggy – Ya know, ’cause he has a rougher side… a little more bit more rougher… Yeh.. Damian, he’s the youngest one of us now. Steve mentored him into comin’ up into what’s been happenin’ now. And so he’s a young one. Still growin’, you know, still growin’, still young, still growin’, still finding who he is and stuff like that, so we still have to give him some time feh become who he is, ya know? We have Julian, Ky-Mani… Everybody is humble, everyone is working what they feel… and everyone is supportive of everyone else, you know I mean?
Moe – Well, you have an actor in your family, right?
Ziggy – Hmm?
Moe – Ky-Mani is an actor, correct?
Ziggy – Ky-Mani, yeah, did some acting in…
Moe – Shottas…
Ziggy – Shottas…Right. Yeah, he’s into acting and he’s making a new record right now coming out. So we’re looking forward to that.
Moe – Well since he’s an actor… I heard that you write screenplays.
Ziggy – (Smiles) I’m trying to! I’m trying to divert energy, ya know? I’m trying to put energy into other places where I feel creative energy.
Moe – So what are you writing about? What are your subjects?
Ziggy – (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs) I’m sorry to embarrass you! Oh, come on!
Ziggy – You’ll see! Everyone will see!
Moe – (Laughs)
Ziggy – No matter what we’re doing… in terms of that screenplay thing, I’m tryin’ to be entertaining but I’m tryin’ to always have a message in what we do.
Moe – So there’s nothing in particular that you’re…
Ziggy – (Smiles) I don’t wanna say right now, ya know? Yuh haffa wait… Yuh haffa wait!
Moe – (Laughs) That’s fair enough! Do you have any other hobbies or diversions that most people don’t know about… That you’d talk about at least.
Ziggy – I like watchin’ movies, I play video games… Sports…
Moe – Guitar Hero?
Ziggy – (Smiles) I wanna get that one!
Moe – (Laughs)
Ziggy – I haven’t gotten that one yet, but I saw somebody playin it. I haffa get that one!
Moe – It’s fun! They have a huge screen over here (at Bonnaroo). It’s about 50 feet square.
Ziggy – Oh yeah?? I haffa get it! It looked fun! But I heard they’re coming out with a whole band!?
Moe – They are!
Ziggy – Yeah? It’s gonna be interesting! (Laughs)
Moe – You see people playing it all the time!
Ziggy – (Laughs)
Moe – Just to have that diversion, does it help you deal with everyday touring? ‘Cause you’re on the road all the time, right?
Ziggy – Yeah, for a couple years we been touring, spreading “Love Is My Religion.” But yeah… I like taking my head somewhere else after a while.
Moe – You’re going home after today?
Ziggy – Yeah, we head home for a couple days, then we head out to Europe.
Moe – I bet you’re just gonna go home and just do nothing, aren’t ya? (Laughs.)
Ziggy – (Laughs) That’s exactly it. That’s my favorite thing to do!
Moe – Yeah, I bet! I’m sure you have friends that you go home and they want you to go out… What do you say, “No.. Leave me alone!” or what? (Laughs)
Ziggy – No..no.. Really, I don’t… I don’t have a lot of friends, ya know? I’m a family man. I have my kids and wife and ya know, my bruddahs, but I’m not…
Moe – How many kids do you have?
Ziggy – Me have five.
Moe – Five…
Ziggy – I’m not someone that goes out a lot. I’m not into that. I’m into just relaxing.
Moe – A family person… Right.
Ziggy – Yeah… I’m into that.
Moe – Well you’re on the road all the time, I can definitely see that. You had an exclusive deal with Walmart for a year, right?
Ziggy – It was Target.
Moe – Oh, I’m sorry… Target! And it wasn’t the best experience? How’d it go?
Ziggy – No, it was all right. I mean, again, I told you that I love adventure. I’m an adventurer in what we do. So how this came about was… Well, we wanted to do an independent record now. I wanted to own my music, ya know? So, I didn’t want to go into any contract with any record label. Target came up and they said they would put it out in Target exclusive for a year. Ya know, it was a good business decision. And it was an experiment..
Moe – You were the first in the industry to do that weren’t you?
Ziggy – Yeah, yeah… I think… Something like that!
Moe – That’s a benchmark!
Ziggy – Yeah! It was a revolutionary concept, which I think there is going to be more in the future because of how the record business is going now. Record companies are going a bit down, and artists are begining to be more independent. But anyway, I mean, it was allright. I wish that they had put more into it, in terms of promoting it.
Moe – They didn’t do too much about it?
Ziggy – (Smiles) No, it is a big corporation, so I know how it… I’m not big. I’m just like a little small, you know (Laughs) in the corporation..
Moe – Oh come on! (Laughs)
Ziggy – I wish they had done more to promote it. But because it was only for a year, I was OK with it, ’cause I know after that, I could get it out on a more mass market thing. So, we’re looking forward for it being available to everyone in all of the main stores, but you can get it online anywhere anyway, so that’s cool.
Moe – I contacted someone from TuffGong and they said that I could use “Love Is My Religion” on my podcast.
Ziggy – Yeah.
Moe – And I also saw that you put, ah… What’s that song was it… On the podcast network? You just put another…
Ziggy – Which one? I’m not sure which one it was…
Moe – Ahh…
Ziggy – (Sings) Make some music… Into the groove…
Moe – It might be that one… I can’t remember!
Ziggy – I don’t know. I can’t remember.
Moe – But anyway! I’m sorry… With that, you’re opening yourself up and giving yourself out to the people.
Ziggy – Yeah.
Moe – How do you feel the reception from that? Do you think that more people will start embracing that? More musicians will start doing that?
Ziggy – You mean like…
Moe – Promotion-wise… ‘Cause it’s good for promotion for you!
Ziggy – Yeah, I mean. You know, gradually as we get more into the future of the music industry, I think that… artists will be more open to the new technology to get the music across. For me, you know.. for me, it’s about getting the message across, so that is the greatest thing for me if I can get what I’m saying across to people. That is what I’m interested in doing, and because of that, I’m very open to ideas, because I know that what I’m sayin’ needs to be given to the people… So I’m very open to whichever avenue I can get that to the people, ya know? So, I’m really open to anything that’s happening that will get the message.
Moe – I read that you said that you think that music will be free in the future?
Ziggy – Yeah, I wanted something like that to happen… Yeah! Why not? I don’t see why not… (Smiles) I’ve been trying to do that for a few years, but the business people, ‘No! No! You don’t…’
Moe – Yeah, yeah! I know! Well hey… maybe some day!
Ziggy – Yeah… The music free or the concert free… Somethin’… Somethin’… Somethin’ haffe… somethin’ haffe give! (Laughs)
Moe – (Laughs) Something have to give!
King B – (Laughs)
Ziggy – Yeah! (Laughs)
Moe – One last question… If you have one message to give, I think your message would be love…
Ziggy – That’s it.
Moe – But what’s your message?
Ziggy – It’s love! It’s love!
Moe – Yeah, definitely.
Ziggy – It’s very simple…
Moe – Well thank you very much for the interview.
Ziggy – Ya mon, thanks…
Moe – It’s been an honor. And thank you for you and your family…
Ziggy – Ya mon!
Moe – So are YOU gonna fly home? I know your hobby is flying…
Ziggy – Yeah!! (Laughs)
Moe – Take a hold of the controls, huh?! (Laughs)
Ziggy – (Laughs) I wish! I wish! I wish! (Laughs)
Moe – Hey Ziggy… Thank you very, very much, I appreciate it.
Ziggy – All right… Ya mon! Respect! Thanks…
- New comic book: Ziggy Marley’s Marijuanaman (boingboing.net)
- ‘This Train’ – Ziggy Marley, with Willie Nelson, Mickey Raphael (stillisstillmoving.com)
- Ziggy Marley becomes a dad for the 5th time (muzicmagazine.wordpress.com)