ZIGGY MARLEY:
WITH MUSIC, CREATIVITY, SPIRITUALITY AND TRUTH
SLOWLY CHANGING THE WORLD



Ziggy Marley - photo by Kii Arens

By Paul Freeman [September 2016 Interview]

Ziggy Marley is a reggae renaissance man. He began establishing himself as a vibrant and vital musical artist at age 10, back in the late 70s.

But the multi-Grammy-winning Marley, Jamaican-born, Los Angeles-based, has explored many other avenues - childrenís book author, philanthropist, co-creator of the ďMarijuanamanĒ graphic novel and purveyor of a vaporizer, as well as GMO-free organic cooking oils and snacks. Soon heíll be delving deeply into the multimedia world.

His latest project is ďZiggy Marley and Family Cookbook.Ē Filled with enticing photos, the book includes the recipes of Marley and many of his family members, including his sister Karen and daughter Judah. Itís a celebration of both food and family. Containing meat and fish dishes, as well as vegan and vegetarian creations, it draws not only from the Jamaican and Rastafarian cultures that nurtured Marley, but also his wife Orlyís Israeli-Iranian roots. Prominent chefs have also contributed recipes.

Lyrically, his new album ďZiggy Marley,Ē reflects Ziggy Marleyís concerns for the world. Musically the record fuses several styles, including rock and funk, as well as his reggae roots.

With his songs, itís important to Marley to inspire, as well as to entertain. His dad taught him that. Marleyís father, the late reggae icon and activist Bob Marley, made music that is still revered by people all over the world.

Marley, 47, father of four, whose family included preachers, as well as musicians, seeks to better the lives of children globally through U.R.G.E. (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment). His non-profit organization acts to support education, health and the environment.

Pop Culture Classics is grateful that Ziggy took time from his busy schedule to talk with us.

POP CULTURE CLASSICS:
What made you decide to write a cookbook?

ZIGGY MARLEY:
Well, I didnít write it, per se, it was an effort with me and my friends and my family. We decided to do it just for the fun of it, like share some recipesÖ and just really have fun.

PCC:
Growing up, the role of food in your life - was it more than just sustenance? Were meals family time, social time?

MARLEY:
Oh, ya, mon, especially sharing in the effort of cooking, all the good authentic stuff.

PCC:
You started cooking as a teenager and took a creative approach right from the start?

MARLEY:
Thatís true. I would never follow a recipe. We knew we liked certain things and we would just figure it out.

PCC:
Your father liked to make special juices.

MARLEY:
Yeah, He would prepare them for us. I learned a lot from him.

PCC:
The new ďZiggy MarleyĒ album that came out a few months ago, you drew from a number of different styles. Were you conscious of expanding where reggae can go, musically?

MARLEY:
Yeah, I think thatís just naturally in me now. Iíve just always seemed to be experimenting and creative and rebellious and everything. And thatís just how I am now.

PCC:
And lyrically, this album is basically reflecting your concerns for the world?

MARLEY:
Yeah, in certain songs, like ďWe Are The PeopleĒ and ďButterflies.Ē Thereís a message in the music that people need to hear, yeah.

PCC:
With your songs, is it important to you to uplift, as well as to entertain?

MARLEY:
Yeah, we want to fuse music that is entertaining with ideas that are uplifting. The most important thing is the message, yeah.

PCC:
Did your father ever talk to you about that - the purpose of making music? Or was it something you picked up by listening and observing?

MARLEY:
I think I picked it up by observing and listening.

PCC:
Your writing process - do you sit down and tell yourself itís time to create? Or do you wait for inspiration to hit?

MARLEY:
We wait for inspiration. We have to be inspired. So we have to kind of wait till it comes up on us, you know.

PCC:
Do you think you were born with the music in you? Or is it something that you soaked up, growing up in such a musical environment?

MARLEY:
I think itís both, because my fatherís a musician, my motherís a musician, my grandmotherís a musician. Her sisters are musicians and preachers. My grandfather on my motherís side is a musician. So itís really both sides.

PCC:
That preaching side, is that something you feel youíve also tapped into, through your music, putting across a message that way?

MARLEY:
Yeah, I think itís that spiritual side. And I have that preacher side, my whole family is like preachers.

PCC:
For you, is spirituality very much wrapped up in the music? Do they go together?

MARLEY:
Yeah, thatís involved in the inspiration and itís revealed in my music and in the way I live my life and the way I interact with people. Itís the whole thing, itís my life, itís not just music.

PCC:
Do you think music can make the world a better place?

MARLEY:
Well, music can make the world a worse place, too, you know. When you look at society today and you look at the music that is being played today, youíll find that the kids are less conscious. The kids are more superficial, more materialistic. The music is more superficial and more materialistic. So music really has a powerful effect on the society. And we know that, because we can see it, the reality.

PCC:
So do you think musicians should feel a sense of responsibility, because their music can have an effect either way, positively or negatively?

MARLEY:
No, I donít think so. I think itís the media that should feel that about the music they play and they promote, the stuff you see on TV and you hear on the radio. I think the media has a responsibility to play and promote a wider variety of music. The musicians can do what they want. You know what I mean? We can do what we want to do. Thereís all types of musicians out there, all types of music. But it was what is being pushed on the people, for whatever reason, that is the problem. We can continue to do what we do, no matter whatís happening.

PCC:
Have you always been determined to make your own music, your own way, regardless of the commercial considerations?

MARLEY:
You know, we have a sense of purpose, with what we are doing. So it doesnít matter what is going on. We have to fulfill our own purpose and destiny, whatever small part that plays in the consciousness of the world, of humanity. Every little bit is meaningful. You know?

PCC:
What were the most important lessons you learned - about life and about music - from your father?

MARLEY:
I think whether or not music is a gateway to spirituality. Music is a door that can open up spirituality, that can be used for the betterment of humankind. This is a great lesson to have learned.

PCC:
Why do you think so many people around the world still cherish your fatherís music today?

MARLEY:
I think thereís two reasons - the messageÖ and the person that is giving the message. If my father was a snob or an uptight person, then it wouldnít get so much traction. It was because he was a humble human being and genuinely a man of love, that it gets the traction that it gets.

PCC:
So is that humility something youíve always tried to maintain in your own life?

MARLEY:
Yeah, I mean, itís part of the evolution of who we are as people. You want to try and not let ego be the only driving force that carries us in this life, but to have some humility. Thatís a very Buddhist trait and something thatís very important for human beings in general.

PCC:
How did you deal with the issue of carving out your own identity musically, following in your fatherís footsteps?

MARLEY:
Because I am sincere in what I do, I do not even think about it. It just happens. Because we are real. What we do is real; Weíre not doing it for any reason other than that it is real. Weíre not pretending anything. This is real. So what will happen will happen. And things will happen, because of whatever reason, but weíre just real. And I think that helps to bring across what weíre doing here.

PCC:
What would you say is the role of ganja in your creative process, how beneficial is it in helping to spark the creativity?

MARLEY:
Well, it depends on the individual. I donít want to generalize, because everyone is different. But for some, pathways open. It opens neurons in the mind. It opens different thoughts, different thought processes. It leads to a different way of seeing things. So for some itís very important. But for others, itís not so important, because inspiration doesnít depend on ganja. If you donít have the inspiration, ganjaís not going to give you inspiration. You have to have inspiration first.

PCC:
Has it been helpful to you?

MARLEY:
In different ways, at different times. And sometimes not. Itís not a constant thing. Who knows? One day it might be. The next day it might not be. I have inspiration without it. So it is not a necessity.

PCC:
Does it enhance your appreciation of good cooking, though?

MARLEY:
[Laughs] It makes me eat too much.

PCC:
Do you think itís important that weed be legalized?

MARLEY:
I think itís important that the truth be told and that we live the truth and that the laws reflect the truth. And that truth is that the plant is beneficial. It has medicinal benefits. And for some it has recreational benefits. So in society, a true society must reflect that. You cannot lie to the people and create laws that are based upon lies and falsehoods. So that is the main objective. Marijuana falls under that category. So we have to deal with it in that way and think about it in that way. Itís about being real, in our society, towards nature.

PCC:
Did you have fun collaborating on the ďMarijuanamanĒ graphic novel?

MARLEY:
Ya, mon, we did a graphic novel with a good artist called Jim Mahfood and we had a lot of fun.

PCC:
So many diverse projects - Graphic novels, vaporizer, music, childrenís book, organic products, now the cookbook - do you enjoy always finding new challenges, always growing as an artist, as a human being?

MARLEY:
I love it. It keeps my brain activated. It keeps the neurons growing. It keeps me open-minded. It keeps the creativity going. It keeps challenging me. Iím looking for more challenges that I havenít done yet. Coming into the future, thereís more I can do.

PCC:
Are there specific goals you havenít fulfilled yet?

MARLEY:
Yeah, well, Iím trying to get more into the multimedia world now. Thereís something in that world, from a creative aspect, not just being the name or the face of it, but being a creative force in that world. I think thatís going to be my next project that Iím thinking about.

PCC:
With all these different creative pursuits, does it always end up being about adding positive energy to the world?

MARLEY:
Yeah, it does. Thatís like the foundation of everything. Thatís what ties everything together in what we do.

PCC:
And the philanthropy, your role in U.R.G.E, that must be gratifying.

MARLEY:
Yeah, thatís part of everything we do in lifeÖ and we feel good doing itÖ and feel good about sharing it with others, to help those who need the help. But all life is about giving. We have to give. Itís like giving life.

PCC:
Do you see yourself as an example, hopefully inspiring other people to get more involved in giving and sharing and helping?

MARLEY:
Well, I donít see myself like that. We are all, if we want to be, good examples in life, whether it be me or you or whoever. But itís not like I go around thinking, ďOh, I want to be a good example for people to follow.Ē Iím just a good person in general. And if people follow that, then Iím happy. But I donít go around doing it for that reason. I do it because this is who I am.

PCC:
Having performed almost your entire life, is there still a big rush, getting on stage, connecting with an audience?

MARLEY:
Well, even more now than ever, there is a real energy in what weíre doing on stage. And thereís a real purpose behind the message, because I keep growing, I keep expanding, evolving. And so it only gets more intense, you know? It only gets better.

PCC:
And what is the most rewarding aspect of your life in music?

MARLEY:
Itís to know that I am doing the work that God wants me to do - for the benefit of humankind. This is my joy, to fulfill that destiny that I have been given. That is why we are inspired, because we are fulfilling that. So I really feel that I am doing the good work. I am spreading the good message.

PCC:
And whatís the most challenging part for you?

MARLEY:
Challenging? Sometime the challenge is, you wish you could change it more. You wish you could do it right now. You wish you could snap your finger and there would be love around the world and peace around the world. You know what I mean? Thatís the challenging part - to have the perseverance and endurance and the ability to understand that itís not a snap of the finger. This is hard work. But itís meaningful and good work. You just have to do it. But you want to see change. You want to see things become better. That is the challenging part, to not get frustrated, but keep working at it.

For tour dates and news, visit: www.ziggymarley.com.