This week Reggaeville launched their fifth edition of ‘Festiville‘ magazine – festival guide! In 156 pages long guide you can find information about 80 reggae festivals around the world and very good interviews with artists like Damian Marley, Jah cure, Treesha, David Rodigan and more! Interviews are very interesting, so make sure to download the whole magazine and check them out.
We decided to give a special shout out for the interview with Damian Marley! Wanna know about his upcoming album? About his cooperation with Kabaka Pyramid, Jesse Royal, Chronixx? His plans for SummerJam festival? Where was he for his father’s 70’s birthday? Read this special interview by Reggaeville below. Enjoy!
INTERVIEW WITH DAMIAN MARLEY by Reggaeville (June 2015)
The European massive is already excited, because with the exception of a few shows, the last time you toured Europe was with Nas in 2010 and 2011. How do you feel about your upcoming European tour?
I’m feeling good. I love performing and playing music, and of course Europe always shows a very warm welcome to Reggae music in general. Even though I haven’t done a long tour it’s not like I haven’t been to Europe since the tour with Nas. We still kept the connection.
The show at Germany‘s biggest festival Summerjam will mark their 30th anniversary. Can you still recall your first performance there in 2006?
I cannot recall that show in particular but it’s always great to see and be at these big Reggae festivals. Especially the festivals in Europe are a great example of what Reggae music can do, also from the business aspect and organization wise. I am grateful to be a part of that. As this festival in Germany lasted 30 years, I definitely want to partake in the celebration and I am glad to be there once more.
What can the fans expect from your show at Summerjam this year? Will you bring a present for the anniversary, some guests, maybe a cake?
A lot of times we travel with surprises and I know that there are going to be some. I can’t really say at this point in time, because then it wouldn’t be a surprise. But people can definitely expect a very energetic show. We always do our best wherever it is: Germany, Jamaica and anywhere else in between. I will play my own music from all of my previous albums, a couple of songs from the album I did with Nas, and of course we always have something for our father’s fans. So musically that’s what you can expect from a show when we come to town. Apart from that you can expect to have a good time, because coming out and enjoying yourself, that’s what it’s all about.
Before you touch down in Europe, you will be playing one show in Rishon Lezion in Israel. The show is entitled On The Road To Zion on the poster in allusion to your song and also the city you’ll be performing at. Will that be a special show to you?
Zion is really a place within me and it still exists inside of people. So it’s really the road to salvation, the road to freedom, the road to One Love. The road to Zion is inside all of you and all those places, so regardless of where we are playing, it will always remain the same: the focus of what is in our hearts. Of course, I am glad to be playing in Israel because it is historically interesting and there are a lot of fans of our family and our music. It’s the first time I’ll be going there, so it’s going to be interesting to spend some time to learn about a new culture and meet new people. Apart from that though it was the same thing the first time I came to Germany, the first time I came to Sweden or Ethiopia or Ghana. Anywhere is special!
Rishon Lezion is not even 40 miles from Gaza, where by this time last year more than 2000 Palestinians and more than 70 Israelis were killed in another Israel-Gaza conflict. Reggae music has always been political music and a voice for people who are suffering political oppression. Will that also play a role in your performance there? Will you address a special message?
I don’t really need to address a special message, because my songs address those kind of issues every day. That is something important music stands for. I don’t really have to go out of my way to say anything special, because that is already a big part of what my music is all about, whether or not I say the name Israel or Palestine or any of those places. I don’t need to say a certain name. Our music is for the upliftment of the oppressed, whether that be financially, racially, socially. I think I can say that my music stands for truth and rights and justice. Definitely I will play for those people in Israel, because by the end of the day we have to remember that they are human beings and victims of a system. I will play for the victims, I don’t play for the oppressors.
Later this summer you will go on another tour together with your brother Stephen, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Jo Mersa and Black- Am-I. Why did you call the tour Catch A Fire?
It’s a nice name (laughs). And that’s what we’re doing. We are catching a fire, we are starting some momentum on behalf of Reggae music. It’s been a very long time that a tour like this has been done with so many great artists. I’d be glad to see more like these tours on the road, so we are catching a fire, we are starting these kind of fires.
This year is a very special year for your family. On February 6th the world celebrated your father’s 70th birthday. Your brothers Rohan, Ky-Mani and Julian spent the day with the fans at the museum on 56 Hope Road. How did you experience the day?
I spent the day on the road travelling home from a tour. I had a couple of shows in Colorado. But in general when it comes to these things you have to remember that we couldn’t get to his 70th birthday, if there hadn’t been the 69th, 68th, 67th. So it’s not like this year is any more important than last year. We always remember our father, celebrate his life and feel a great joy. The importance of this year’s February was just like last year’s to me.
The following days were marked by a series of events that showed you in great unity with all your siblings. You shared the stage with Stephen, Julian and Ky-Mani at the Redemption Live in Kingston. One week later you were part of the 9 Mile Festival and The Get Together in Miami. But also the second generation with Stephen’s son Jo Mersa and Cedella’s Skip delivered great performances at the events and even your son dropped a few lines in Miami. Is he also about to start a musical career?
Oh wow, he is way too young to do that. He is going to school, learning how to do multipli- cation right now, so he is not thinking about a career at this point. But he loves music just like me and the rest of our family. He grows up around me, so sometimes he would come to a concert with me and if he feels like jumping on stage, he can of course come and enjoy himself. But it’s nothing serious, we are not marketing him or anything like that. He is still a kid and education comes first.
After The Get Together the whole crew went on to Jazid in Miami Beach, where you, Stephen, Jo Mersa and others rode some riddims on Kulcha Shock’s sound system. Was that spontaneous? Could you imagine yourself doing that more often, maybe even go on a sound system tour as a different vibe for a change?
Yes, it was spontaneous. Every now and then we pass through Jazid and might do a little toasting on the mic with Kulcha Shock, but that is never planned. (Laughs) Touring with a sound system is not something I am thinking about doing, but I also wouldn’t say it’s impossible or it will never happen. Still it’s not something I am looking forward to doing right now, because I personally love performing with a band.
Do you have favorite sound system?
I couldn’t just pick one, I have to name a few, that are really the ones I grew up listening to. That’s Stone Love, King Jammy’s, Rodigan, Bass Odyssey. Stone Love is a sound that has been there from ever since, from way back and still remains relevant as one of the number one operating sound systems. I have great respect for them. King Jammy’s goes even deeper than sound system because of his history as a producer, the works he and his family like his son Baby G created.
Sound systems will also be a part of the Reggae Cruise that will take off twice this year in November and December. Are you looking forward to the event?
Yes, of course! We did it already last year and it was a great success. We will improve it, keep the momentum going.
The first cruise was sold out and the videos showed great joy and excitement. How was your experience?
It was like magic. As a fan I don’t think you can ask for much more. You are on a boat with like-minded people. Everyone there is a fan like you are. You feel like one big family, almost one big nation. Even though a lot of people on the boat don’t know each other, it’s not like they are strangers because they all have something in common which is the love for Reggae music. You’re really getting into that One Love mentality with people from all over the world, different nations, different languages just coming together enjoying themselves all in the common name of Reggae music. With last year’s cruise we really made a statement on behalf of our genre. A lot of people that we were trying to partner with didn’t believe that Reggae music was that big. They didn’t think that Reggae fans had enough income to go on a cruise. We proved them wrong and that is big, because we showed the world that Reggae is a thing worth investing in. Our music is loved throughout the four corners of the earth. Anywhere you go you will find people who love Reggae. We really tried to make the statement that it is not something that can just be stuffed underneath a rug. That first cruise helped to make that statement. It sold out very quickly, was a great success, everyone enjoyed themselves. We want to keep that mentality going with the cruise that’s coming now. We are making sure that we go all out on the line-up to represent the genre in the best way possible. I am really looking forward to watching some of the shows on the upcoming cruise. We have Sly & Robbie with Michael Rose, whose music I am a big, big fan of. Also Maxi Priest will be on board. I am looking forward to seeing these performances.
Of course the fans always expect to finally get a new album from you, since there has been no solo record since Welcome To Jamrock. Will you meet their hopes and expectations this year?
I can tell you that I have been in the studio heavily working on my new album. That has been my focus in the studio for the past months. I don’t know yet, when it’s going to be finished. I don’t like to rush my music, I want to get it right. I also don’t want to put a timeline and say I would release it at a certain time and then I don’t deliver. But I can tell you that I am diligently working towards finishing my solo album and giving it to the world.
What can you tell me about the record at this point in time?
There are some titles, but I cannot announce it yet (laughs). I have been working a lot with the musicians of my band. Winta James plays keyboard on a few tracks, Shiah Coore plays bass on some. A lot of the tracks I have been working on with my other keyboardist Sean ‘Young Pow’ Diedrick. He has helped me a lot. As of right now we are just gathering all the material and getting a momentum going. Stephen is actually putting the finishing touches on his album. Once he finishes with that, he is looking to dive into my album also as a producer.
Make It Bun Dem produced by Skrillex was a great success. Can we also expect some dubstep kind of style on the album?
These questions are the same ones I am asking myself also. We are experimenting and still trying to find out what the album is going to sound like ourselves. It’s not like I don’t want to disclose much yet, but we are still in the creative process of finding out ourselves. I am not holding back any information, it’s just that there is no information at this point in time (laughs).
You still released singles during the past few years, works such as Set Up Shop, Hard Work, Is It Worth It. Why did you never compile them to an album?
Those songs are compiled on the Set Up Shop Vol. 1 and 2. I really wanted to help to bring some exposure to our label and some of the acts that we have been working with on it. That is why I released those songs in support of the compilations.
Speaking of the Ghetto Youths International camp, what do you appreciate about the artists that are signed to the label, especially Black-Am-I and Christopher Ellis?
Talent! Christopher Ellis is very talented. He had a lot of exposure to the music industry through his father. Alton Ellis is unquestionably a great legend of Reggae music. My brother Stephen actually brought Christopher to the camp. It is musically interesting to work with him. Likewise with Black-Am-I. He is a youth from Nine Mile in Jamaica, where my father was born. He was as one of the least experienced acts that we are working with. When we started he hasn’t even come much to Kingston yet, just a handful of times. He was really inexperienced when it comes to the music industry. He is this very raw talent. I like especially how he writes his lyrics. He has a lot of potential but needs to be around other people to help and advise him. I am very keen to help upcoming artists, because I was once in a position where I needed that help and still am up until now. I feel good when I am able to help. That’s what it’s all about for me. These artists are artists I believe in and one day their careers will develop and other people will appreciate them also.
Apart from your songs, fans recently got to hear great new productions of yours. Kabaka Pyramid’s Well Done and Talk If Dem Want by Iba MaHr are out as singles on the On The Corner riddim you produced. Also Wayne Marshall and Tydal are on the selection. Why did you pick these artists to voice your instrumental?
The beat itself comes from Wayne Marshall’s album Tru Colors, where the song On The Corner is on. We wanted to give the song more profile in the Reggae community, so we decided to make the riddim into a juggling with more artists on it. We like the music of those artists and also what they stand for. We reached out to them and everyone was willing to work with the track. It’s the feel that we wanted on the riddim. It is kind of how it was speaking to us. We listened to it and thought of who would sound good on it. It was not just about the voices, but how these artists approach music. We are in the works right now of another beat. The juggling isn’t out as yet, but what we are working on now will include a different set of artists with a different kind of approach. It depends on the music and the feeling of it.
So can we expect more productions from you and also more riddim selections?
Yes, for sure. I have been doing some work with Third World recently. You will get some productions of Third World songs coming from me. Then there are actually two more songs yet to be released on the On The Corner riddim, one by Jesse Royal and one by Chronixx. There are a few more things in the pipeline right now where the production is concerned to be released in the near future.
What else can the fans look forward to? What else is coming up from your side?
You can look out for Stephen’s album that is coming up. Hopefully you will get a new single from me over the summer. There is new music coming from the Ghetto Youths Camp for sure, because all of the artists are working. You will have a bunch of new stuff soon.
Don’t miss to read Sumerjam special 5 Questions to…: ALAINE, TARRUS RILEY, PATRICE, DANAKIL, PROTOJE, GROUNDATION and more! Check out the Festiville guide below.