It was the night of Chris Rock's show that I had booked after missing out on the first 5 dates, so there wasn't anyway I could be late (missed the opening act though) nor could I turn the interview down as it could have been my only chance.
To make matters worse, the number I had to ring was missing a digit. You know what that calls (pun intended) for? Try every digit at the end! Coincidentally, when I got the phone call from PR, the number I tried was actually the correct number.
But anyway, here it is:
Tarrus Riley Interview
The title track, 'Parables', written by Tarrus on Max Romeo’s Three Blind Mice rhythm, cautions us to "read between the lines". Tarrus’s first cover song of John Legend’s, 'Stay With You”, will prove to be one of the perpetual classics from Tarrus Riley. 'She’s Royal' is the kind of song that creeps up on you, with an excellent arrangement. The anthemic 'Lion Paw' offers a stamp of approval, with rhythm. 'Beware' hits us with reality illustrating troubles and violence in the streets. And then Della Manley helps to bring us home to 'Family', a real groove-finder capped off by a melodious chorus. Sold! Tarrus Riley, young, gifted and bold!
Marvin Sparks: 'She’s Royal' has been a smash-hit for you, when did you realise exactly how big it was?
Tarrus Riley: Boy, everyday I learn how big that song is. It’s just a simple, little song I wrote to make the women feel nice about themselves and people love it all over. ‘Cause I work hard, y’know? I struggled in the music, so when I sing songs and people like them, it makes me feel nice.
Marvin Sparks: Your father was a popular singer in the 80s and worked with many icons, how important has he been in your career?
Tarrus Riley: The importance of my father in my career is I had early experience in the studio and it gave me confidence. Him being my father, like if he was a mechanic I would be growing around the garage, but him being a musician I grew around the music
Marvin Sparks: You record and tour with Reggae legend Dean Fraser who also worked with Bob Marley, what influence has he had?
Tarrus Riley: Dean is like a big brother to me, so that is great you know? And he is also part of the management so its good vibes, like family. And being that he worked with Bob he has great experience.
Marvin Sparks: People are usually surprised when I inform them 'Stay With You' was originally a John Legend track, is that why you chose it?
Tarrus Riley: Not really you know, it was mainly the melody and the lyrics
Marvin Sparks: Has John heard it and what did he think?
Tarrus Riley: Yeah, he’s heard it and I’ve met members of his band and they all said they love it
Marvin Sparks: We’ve seen Junior Reid and Sizzla amongst others working with US artists, do you have any plans on working with any in the near future?
Tarrus Riley: Well that is the mission that is what I want to do, I want to unite with as many musicians as possible. Right now one of my favourite singers is Amy Winehouse from England. I really like her music. I will work with anyone that’s music is nice and I love melodies and lyrics.
Marvin Sparks: Where is the most unusual place you’ve performed and got a positive reaction?
Tarrus Riley: Barcelona. The people don’t speak English but they still love what I was dealing with. It was funny because I didn’t really know what to expect from them. It was a nice, little intimate show.
Marvin Sparks: What track would you say you’re most proud of from the album Parables?
Tarrus Riley: It depends on my mood, every song has a different mood for a different time. At different times you like different songs. “Pick Up The Pieces” is a special song. It’s mainly the message because we get a lot of heartbreak but we still have to pick up the pieces and keep moving on. ’Cause how you know a real person is by the things they go through, that they can manage them and how they come out of it. We just have to pick up the pieces and go forward.
Marvin Sparks: What are your goals for 2008?
Tarrus Riley: Just to make good music and make people feel nice with music. Also to big up my country Jamaica and make the whole world know that reggae is still alive and kicking, my type of way. You have a lot of different genres indigenous to Jamaica like Rocksteady, Ska, Mento, Dancehall and Reggae. I play Reggae but I also play other genres but I am an original youth that’s making original music. I’m just in love with Reggae and that’s what I want to big up
Marvin Sparks: If there was one celebrity you’d dedicate "She’s Royal" to, who would it be?
Tarrus Riley: It wouldn’t be a celebrity, man. It would be my Mother! She’s not a celebrity to the world but to me, she’s a celebrity
Marvin Sparks: Finally, if you were working in a record shop, how would you sell your album?
Tarrus Riley: I would just tell you that I put a lot of hard work into what I’m doing and I really know you will love it because I love it and if I don’t love it, you wouldn’t love it. I put a lot of hard work into it and its quality stuff. And I’ll probably start singing it [laughs]. Everything has inspired this album. The breeze, the bee’s, the birds, the musicians, music itself.
Lastly I will like to big up Europe, big up my fans and big up all my Jamaicans. Give thanks,
Tarrus Riley’s album Parable is in stores now