SKIP MARLEY: ON MUSIC, FAMILY, AND LIVING UP TO THE NAME
Imagine growing up in the shadow of an icon. Imagine if that icon is a legendary musician whose last name carries the weight of a worldwide movement for peace and love, and whose recognizable face is hanging on a poster in every college dorm room in the U.S.
That is the legacy to which Skip Marley—son of Cedella, the eldest daughter of the one and only Bob Marley—was born into. As of 2015, thirty-four years after Bob Marley’s untimely death, the Marley family has managed to carry on the legacy of their iconic patriarch in a way that honors him while also making names for themselves as individuals. Now, only 18 years old, Skip has decided that the time is right for his turn in the spotlight. His first single, “Cry to Me,” debuted back in April, and while it certainly draws inspiration from his grandfather, it stands out on its own with a modern, up-tempo sound that, as a friend described to me, “is more headphones-in-the-rain than hitchhiking-across-the-country.”
I spoke with the fledgling music star about touring, his family’s legacy, and making music videos.
How did you know you wanted to carry on your family’s legacy in music?
There was a point in my life when I was like, 14 or 15 and I was on my Uncle Steven’s tour, and I had never sang to anyone before. So he asked me one night to sing “One Love.” He called me on stage and handed me the microphone and from [that moment] on, I could sing. He pushed me.
Are you ever afraid that your surname will overshadow your career?
No way. It’s a shadow I like. I embrace it. My sound is similar to [that of] my family—my uncle’s and my grandfather’s music, but that’s okay. People come to my shows and say, “I love your grandfather,” but you know what? It’s just love; it’s all about love.
What is “Cry to Me” about?
“Cry to Me” was [about] something I was dealing with personally. I knew a girl with a lot of insecurities, and I thought, just cry to me. I just wrote about what was going on in my life. For me, the lyrics sort of just came to me with the melody. “Cry to Me” was the names of one of my grandfather’s songs, and that stuck with me. The video was funny to make. I had no idea how to do a video. I wasn’t prepared but we did it.
What are you hoping to get out of your tour?
The audience so far has been great. It’s a really amazing experience. I feel the crowd, and I’m learning how to have a stage presence. I learned from my uncles and cousins how to hold the mic, how loud to sing, and the importance of rehearsal. We don’t take rehearsal lightly.
Where does your music fit in, and what are your long-term career goals with it?
It’s reggae, its rock, it’s pop, it’s all of it. It’s not just one sound. I want to hear my songs on the radio. Spreading positivity.