Ziggy Marley is a four-time Grammy Award-winning musician, philanthropist, and founder of the independent record label, Tuff Gong Worldwide. Known for his international work with children, Ziggy is the founder of U.R.G.E. (Unlimited Resources Giving Enlightenment), a designer for the Fashion Against AIDS Campaign and a supporter of Little Kids Rock. When not on tour, he divides his time between California, the Bahamas and Jamaica.
Question: How do you communicate Jamaica to your listeners?
Ziggy Marley: I mean, I do have ideas to kind of find some way to keep the younger generation in tuned with their past in Jamaica 'cause as a musician, there's something on my mind that I want the younger youths to know about, the generation of musicians that were before even me. And somewhat... they don't... I'm telling you right now, they don't even know some of the greats who led the way. I mean, you know, my father is a popular icon and they know him but there are others that who's in this generation that I don't think they even understand who they are and where the music is coming from. So that's another... that's another kind of... another purpose that I would like to get involved with... involved with making music. It's had nothing to do with that on this record, it's a children's record, you know, it's called "Family Time." There's a song on it that I did called "Hold 'Em Joe" which was the first song I ever did on stage and it was a part of what I was telling your before, it was part of our cultural event where we learned Jamaican folk songs and I remember that this is the first song I ever sung so... and it was a... it's a song about a donkey and stuff like that so I think it was appropriate for a kid's record. But it's something like that that is missing and I would like to do more to... so I can keep the culture and let the kids know the history and make the music alive, you know?
Question: What was it like working with Paul Simon?
Ziggy Marley: Yeah, with Paul, I didn't... we weren't in the studio together but it was kind of unexpected in the way that he got involved in the record 'cause I wasn't thinking of him, I wasn't... I wasn't even thinking that it was possible, it's Paul Simon, you know? His... I love him but I think he was way above my, you know, whatever, my grade or whatever you want to call it. So I wasn't thinking of asking, you know, how Paul Simon got involved was... I got a phone call from someone saying that Paul wants to talk to me, so I said, "All right, let me talk to Paul Simon, that's great." So we spoke and he called... he wanted to ask me about getting... if I have any suggestions for a drummer, he was working on some songs and he needed a drummer, if I had some suggestions. So I was like, "Yeah man, let me make some calls and get back to you," so at that point in the record, we were almost at the end of the record, like you know, we had everybody and we had this one song which I wanted someone to sing and I was like, "I wonder if Paul would sing on it." So I said... I was too shy to ask myself, you know, I'm not that... I'm very... I'm not that type of person so I was like if the person that called us could ask him if... so it worked out that way, unexpectedly but it was a great privilege and pleasure.
With Willy... Willy, again, Paul and Willy Nelson are like... is like my father, you know, they're my father figures in my world, Willy... someone that I always wanted to do something with and who has inspired me to write songs also, Willy. And Don who was I was working with on the record, you know, he had done some song with Willy before, so I was like, "Don, you know check Willy if he'd like to jump on the record," he said yes and we met Willy in San Diego, we went to a hotel room and we recorded in the hotel room and that was a great experience for me to finally meet Willy and just be around his vibe and energy, very special. Jack Jensen, I didn't see him, you know, we exchanged some e-mails and it was cool but I think what really made me cool with asking other artists was that it's a children's record, I don't think I would've asked if it's just a regular Ziggy Marley record, that's just not my thing. I would have never asked anyone to come and do it. I'm not like that but because it's for children and stuff like that, I said, "Maybe people would do it because it's a children record," and that went well for me.
You know what it's so... there was so many things that inspired me to do this and I think one of the main things was having young kids and being exposed to this world of children, music, and what's on TV and it really started I'm having an idea, I want to do an animation series for kids that's going to teach them concepts like unity, love, charity and things like that, trying to... as I see it, put more consciousness into the children's world of entertainment and music so that's where it started and then, I've always been a part of that world anyway, I've done songs for Dora the Explorer, I've done songs for Arthur... I've been on Sesame Street so I've always been a part of it and, you know, eventually with my younger kids, I thought I could add something to that world that would be a little bit different than what's out there now and a little bit more conscious in terms of putting across my philosophies and ideas of the world and children and things like that for kids that the family could relate to as well, not just the children. So it's not just music that children alone so it's not like The Chipmunks are, it's not like that, it's music that the whole family can enjoy but the songs were written with children in mind to get across certain ideas, you know, in a simple way that a child might understand it.
Recorded on: May 7, 2009