This week we had the privilege of having an incredible conversation with Julian Marley about his album ‘As I Am as he took a quick break from his hectic pre album release schedule to discuss his aims for the album, it’s production and the influences on the album.
Julian Marley provides some incredible insight into his creative process and ideology in this this interview and really breaks down some of the most important elements of not only his own music by reggae music as an entire genre.
After so much success with your last album ‘Awake’ why did it take 10 years for the release of your next album with ‘As I Am’?
Julian Marley- “Everything fell into place at the right time, a lot of things have been happening over the past 10 years. I have had to deal with the kids growing up, I toured for three years off of ‘Awake’, so everything really fell into place for the album to be released this year. I won’t wait more than two years to release the next one”
So when did the plans to produce ‘As I Am fall into place and solidify themselves into a solid body of work?
Julian Marley- “It’s been a couple years in the making, I never took a break from writing songs, so I was able to bring songs written over the last two or three years forward into the album. When I looked back to some of the songs I had written the lyrics were there they just needed a little processing, so adding in the guitars and making sure they sounded right for the album”
Did you ever take a break from producing music over the past 10 years or have you been continuously producing music since the release of ‘Awake’?
Julian Marley- “Continuously making music since the last album, released three or four singles every year. Been mainly focused on touring with The Uprising band, that’s how it takes this music to the ends of the earth that it needs to reach”.S
Did you feel any aspect of your father’s music inspiring you in the creation of ‘As I Am’?
Julian Marley- “It’s hard to say, the honest answer is I don’t know, because it is an inborn element of I. All our inspirations, the almighty sends, so it comes about naturally”.
Keeping with the theme of inspirations, in what way does your origins in the UK effect your music?
Julian Marley- “Again that inspiration is there without thinking. I haven’t even really found out yet exactly how it inspires me. I see many influences in my life with Jamaica, Africa, America, England all playing an important in my life”
Looking at the album itself, what were your aims going into the production of ‘As I Am’?
Julian Marley- “I wanted to make healing music for the people.
Natural music still serves people the best, so I wanted to produce a live music album that did not contain a lot of the synthetic elements present in modern music”
Who were some of the main influences on your album, obviously you have Stephen and Damian with productions credits on the album, so who really influenced you heading into ‘As I Am’?
Julian Marley- “The influence of my brothers is yet another thing that goes without words. The experience of music itself
influenced me, Tuff Gong Studios was the first place I landed, my first intake of music, so was somewhere that was naturally important in the album”
Looking at individual tracks on the album, ‘Are You The One’ reflects on the importance of Reggae in your own life, obviously this is going to be hard question to answer, but what is the importance of Reggae in your life?
Julian Marley- “Reggae is a vehicle to carry out specific messages. I think of it like Ribena and water, you have to mix the right elements and the right focuses to bring across the consciousness and love, to make that music that has all the people rocking”
With features from Spragga Benz, Beenie Man and Shaggy on the album was it an aim of yours to also embrace dancehall as well as reggae on the album?
Julian Marley- ” Well it wasn’t something I dedicated the music towards, more the songs had a natural calling. So if you look at ‘Too Hot To Dance’ when I was making that song Shaggy instantly came to mind to feature on the track”.
Which tracks on the album have a deep personal connection with you and standout to you?
Julian Marley- “Every track on the album is a standout track to me. For example, ‘Papa’ addresses my relationship with the Almighty. Each track represents something different to me, they represent different moods”
What are your plans following the release of the album, in terms of touring and performances?
Julian Marley- “We are looking towards a worldwide tour, starting in America and Europe. We get a lot of support from Brazil, South America, New Zealand, Europe, ever since the beginning”.
So you mentioned New Zealand, which is somewhere that you have been on tour recently and not necessarily somewhere massively associated with Reggae, what is the reception for Reggae music like in New Zealand?
Julian Marley- “New Zealand is a country that I have been to three times now. They certainly love the music, they are really warm towards the music. I find its a place with more purity, they aren’t bombarded with the company music, they come towards the more organic music”
What would you say are some of the biggest misconceptions about Reggae, obviously it is a genre that is often seen as being music for weed smokers, in what ways do you aim to deal with these misconceptions?
Julian Marley- “I think one of the issues is that people aren’t
aware of the benefit of the herb, it’s healing qualities and it’s purity. People often instead focus on it’s negatives”
On the topic of Marijuana, you have your own company ‘Juju Royal’ which sells cannabis based products, what do you aim to achieve with ‘Juju Royal’?
Julian Marley- “As a Rasta man, I am an advocate for the herb, it is the most natural thing, so being a Rasta man how can I not be a part of this. I am trying to promote the use of the herb as a Rasta man, promoting it’s healing properties, I am the face of the product at the moment and looking to develop my own brand”
Our final question is how would you summarise this album to your fans?
Julian Marley- “This album is the upliftment album, it is an upper, it is something fighting and pushing through all the negativity in the world. We all have ups and downs, and this is album is dealing with both in a positive way”.
Stream Julian Marley’s ‘As I Am’ Below