Skip Marley brings the love. He spent his childhood steeped in his grandfather Bob’s music, picked up a guitar at age thirteen, and sang with uncle Ziggy Marley in front of thousands at seventeen. His reggae resume is stacked, to say the least.
Yet Skip is re-inventing his family’s legacy for the twenty-first century. He’s collaborating with Katy Perry, undergirding his tunes with poppy builds, and infusing his reggae-style vocals with youth and political passion.
CONVICTS caught up with Skip after his recent show at Public Arts. We got his word on the importance of family, hitting his creative flow, and the special social power of music.
Hey Skip. To start, can you tell us what music means to you?
Music is many things. Music is what I use to make the world better. Music conveys feelings. Feelings can be easily expressed through music.
Talk to me about when and what was your first introduction to music?
When I first picked it up I was about thirteen years old. Prior to that I was playing piano, but didn’t pick up the guitar. Tried one time but I couldn’t play.
What about song writing?
Shortly after that, I’d say like two years after that.
Do you remember where you were when you wrote your first song?
Yeah. It was something I’ve never felt before. After doing that, I always thought, ‘How do you write a song? How does it create itself?’. One day, I was just playing guitar and some words just started coming down.
What ignites your songwriting creativity? Is it a word, is it a feeling, is it an experience?
I feel like it’s all of those actually. And emotion.
How different is it writing the songs versus performing them?
It’s a totally different experience.
How was the New York show?
The New York show was nice, it was good to finally play again in NYC.
Do you feel involved in New York, standing up there performing for the city like that?
Of course, because it’s all the culture in the crowd. I’m here for that message, that feeling of love. I really love being in New York. I wish I could actually sit back and look at it. Look at myself and look at the crowd and see how people actually react.
Do you think you would judge yourself, or do you think you’d be happy about it?
Judge myself! Nah, but both. I’d watch myself and be very critical of what I do, so I’d probably watch myself and then adapt.
Talk about your creative process, especially in recording. Who do you surround yourself with when you’re in a creative mode?
Friends,’cause sometimes I’ll be writing and it could be around my family or other people or other writers. I just feed off of their energies and vice versa. It’s the connection and flow. We just start, and then it’s a downhill ride.
What’re you looking to do with your music?
Help people in some way.
What were early influences or early sounds you heard around the house?
Well, most songs were either my grandfather or Ziggy Marley. That was really the only thing.
Are you influenced by other music?
You’re still quite young, what’re you looking to learn moving forward in your music career?
Many things. There’s a whole other aspect of music I’d like to hear. Perfection is in my craft. I want to polish it and learn and take it in from elders and others. Learn and grow.
How do you want people to take in your music? How do you want them to react when they’re in a room listening to your music?
I want them to understand what I’m trying to convey, to feel the feeling. I want people to be able to apply what I’m saying to their daily lives, how they treat people, how they live…
What are you feeling now before a show? What do you do?
Tell me about that, how often are you playing now?
Everyday. I sing everyday. I find a guitar, I find a keyboard or some type of thing and make up songs, create things.
How do you relax?
I relax many ways. I run, I work out, I play sports, watch a movie, joke. I love laughing. I love making jokes. I love being the funny guy sometimes.
What’s your favorite song?
It’d have to be one of my grandpa’s. I can’t pick. I’ve gotten that question before. I can’t really pick, my grandfather is my favorite artist of course and I’ve studied him and I’ve studied him and I’ve studied him.
Do you feel like you’d be doing him a disservice by choosing just one song?
Yeah, because all of them are my favorites, so I don’t want to be like ‘Oh, just this one.’ They’re all great in their own way. That’s the thing about music. All music is great in it’s own way, it’s an expression in its own unique way.
Where are you headed to after here?
Miami. Chill out for a while.
How does it feel going home?
It feels good to see my grandmother, my family. Chill out for a sec.
How important is family to you?
The most important. That’s how I was raised.
Right on Skip. Thanks for the chat and best of luck.