Interview: Ziggy Marley

ZiggyHouse.jpgZiggy Marley comes from a large and very musical family. The son of Bob Marley, Ziggy's had a solid musical career of his own as part his siblings' band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers as well as with a solo career. So it's not so surprising perhaps that Marley's first album for kids and families is called Family Time. The album is set to be released next week on Marley's own label Tuff Gong Worldwide.

Marley recently took a few minutes to chat about music in his everyday life, why Paul Simon and Willie Nelson joined him on the album, and his hopes for the record.

Zooglobble: What do you remember singing or playing growing up?
Ziggy Marley: We sang a lot of Jamaican folk songs, but we had a lot of different records. I remember we had Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy," and the Jackson Five, too. We sang "Rockin' Robin'"...

What do you sing or play with your kids?
I make up stuff, songs about whatever we're doing. Like at dinnertime, my son will ask me to "sing me something." Or brushing teeth -- "brush up, brush to your left, brush to your right."

Hey, I have that song, too! So why a family album now?

In my case, this was something just happened, just occurred naturally. I played the kids stage at a music festival (Austin City Limits Festival 2007), and I understood why this was happening -- it was happening for the future, for peace, for family. I want to feed them a higher concept than just the cow jumping over the moon. I have young kids, so it's for the children -- for my children, but it's for everyone, with children in mind.

What did artists like Paul Simon and Willie Nelson say when you asked them to do a family album?
I'm not comfortable asking people, but doing a family album was a good reason -- it's not about me, but about the children. Some of the proceeds from the album will go to a school in Jamaica (ed: Chepstowe Basic School in Port Antonio, Jamaica)... why not ask?

ZiggyTree.jpgDo you have a favorite track or memory from recording the album?
The first day in the studio, I carried toys to the studio, invited [Ziggy's daughter] Judah and kids to the studio, had a recording party and had pizza.

You know, the duet with Judah on the title track is one of my favorite moments on the album...
Yeah, Judah was the angel that oversaw the whole project.

What do you hope families get from the album?
I hope the record lasts a lifetime for a child -- that they can carry it from year to year, can listen to it forever. I hope my daughter listens to it now, then when she's older, then with her own kids -- just pass it on. Like a family heirloom.

Her kids'll ask, "Wonder what the round thing is?"
[Laughs] Yeah, "What's a CD player?"

What family music-related things are you doing this summer? You're reworking some of your dad's songs (B Is For Bob), right?
Lots of musicians do "Three Little Birds." I went to the record company and said, "Let me revamp the songs." I'll gear it toward children, something uniqure -- new instruments, alternate vocal takes. I like it -- it really worked well. Sounds organic and authentic.

I'm doing kids shows in between the regular shows. The shows can't be too loud. I want it to be different, to have a different energy [than the regular shows]. I hope to play with the family.