Contemporary roots reggae singer/songwriter Tarrus Riley snuck away from a rehearsal sesh for his summer tour to get a few words in with XLR8R’s Inbox. The Jamaican son of famous vocalist Jimmy Riley chats about idol Shabba Ranks, the Bible, and underwear. Riley’s latest full-length, Contagious, is out now on VP records.
XLR8R: What are you listening to right now?
Tarrus Riley: I am listening to my rehearsal (ha!). I listen to so many artists, so it is hard to just choose one. I never stop listening to music.
What's the weirdest story you have ever heard about yourself?
I have yet to hear it, or maybe no one bothers to tell me.
In which band did you want to be when you were 15?
I used to idolize Shabba Ranks. I used to emulate him and wanted to be just like him.
Worst live show experience?
I don’t remember my worst live show. I guess any show where I can’t hear the sound and the people. I try to forget those bad shows.
Favorite city in which to play?
I just like to perform anywhere and everywhere. I don’t have a favorite place outside Jamaica. If I really had to choose, it would be home, Kingston.
What do you think of Major Lazer?
No disrespect, but who is that? Or what’s that?
What is your favorite thing that you own?
My voice is my favorite thing I own. Because it is mine, and it has its own identity and character.
Name one item of clothing you can't live without.
I can’t live with my underwear, I guess. I mean you need underwear, don’t you?
What would we find you doing on a lazy Sunday afternoon?
On a lazy Sunday afternoon you would find me playing an instrument—either guitar or keyboard.
What did you always get in trouble for when you were little?
I didn’t get in much trouble when I was a child. I used to sneak out to go to parties or to listen to music. I didn’t know I was seeking a career in music, but I knew early that music was my thing.
What other artist would you most like to work with?
I don’t have many artists I admire: Amy Winehouse, Anthony Hamilton, to name a few. I just want to work with anyone with a message or optimistic vibe. I am into melodies and making people think.
What's the last thing you read?
The last thing I read was the Bible. I read it as much as I can. Not to be religious, but I oftentimes read proverbs and psalms. I also read Wise Mind of His Imperial Sellassie I.
Complete this sentence: In the future...
In the future I will grow as a father, musician, and a man.
Stupidest thing you've done in the last 12 months?
I don’t know.
Getting back to rehearsal so that I don’t have an answer to the fourth question you asked: my worst show experience.