Q&A: Stephen “Ragga” Marley Talks About Keeping the Same Vibration and What to Expect on Saturday Night

Posted on Thursday June 30th in

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His new album comes out on July 22, but Stephen “Ragga” Marley is already out on the road. The tour brings him to Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday night, and Marley reached out to Knockdown Alley to discuss writing songs, performing vs. producing, and keeping the same vibration.
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You’ve been in the family business since you were just a little kid. Did you ever consider going into a profession other than music? I don’t look at it as the family business. I’m from a musical family and music is my talent. I have been a professional musician since I was seven, on singles written by my father and managed by my mom.

Revelation, Part II: The Fruit of Life comes out next month. But it’s been five years since Revelation, Part I: The Root of Life’s release. Were you always intending for The Fruit of Life to come next? Or were you working on something else in between? For me personally as an artist that was the next project coming up, but as a producer I had other projects. I was also on the road for Root of life for a long time.

What’s your process when recording an album? Do you go into the studio with most of the songs basically ready? Or is it more about crafting the songs once you get into the studio? There is no real method in terms of going into the studio and writing a song. Sometimes you go into the studio and get inspired. Sometimes you go into the studio with an idea of a song. You don’t want to be in the box. You want to be open so inspiration comes anytime.

As a member of reggae royalty, what’s your feeling on the current state of reggae music across the world? Laughs! We are all royalty! Reggae music is strong across the world. Inspired on generation upon generation.
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How do you work the delicate balance of paying tribute to your father’s musical legacy while still managing to do your own thing? Well I am my father’s child. I am fruit of that seed. Being myself is good enough.

While some musicians are best known for their recorded work, others are best known for their live performances. If you could only be known for one, which would it be? And why? If I had to choose one, I would have to do the live work. When you go on the stage the music comes alive.

As someone who’s won several Grammys, do awards — or reviews, for that matter — mean anything to you? Sure they do. Of course they do. It’s a token of your contribution.

You’ve remixed the Fugees and done work for Erykah Badu and Eve. Is working behind the scenes as meaningful to you as being at the center of attention as a performer? When you go into the studio to record inspiration, it’s important to do from that inspiration to present to the people. When you perform, you get to interact with the people live. It’s a different vibe as well. Two different sides of the same coin.

As a touring musician, what does it mean to be performing in New York City? It means that I get to present my music to the people of New York. I don’t look at anywhere as different. I don’t do a New York set. I come with the same vibration.

And what can we expect at your show on Saturday? Will you be playing exclusively from the new album? Or will you wait on the new stuff until it comes out? I will play a few songs from the new album, when the music comes out I will present it in a more entire form.

How would you describe your live show to someone who’s never seen you before? Full of spirit.
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