With his first live album about to be released, Ziggy Marley is already back in the studio, working on songs for his next album.
"I'm thinking about putting a record out next year, but I'm not sure if I'm gonna make that," Marley tells Billboard. "The best time for a so-called reggae record is summer, so I'd have to have the record ready early in the year. I was going to take next year off and not put out a record, but I've been in the studio writing, working on songs, and I'm really enthusiastic about what I'm doing, the new stuff. So that changed my mind."
Marley plans to self-produce the follow-up to 2011's Grammy-nominated "Wild and Free" and has been treating it as a one-man project so far.
"It's me alone, and I'm doing all the instrumentation and stuff," he says. "It's tough. It takes awhile. I work on a song for weeks -- that's how I'm doing this record. One song will take me weeks to get in a place where I'm comfortable with it."
As for the sound, Marley plans to stay within reggae, "paying respect to the roots but always pushing the envelope of trying to create something new -- which is basically impossible. But to try to do that brings a lot to it. Just having that intention in your head brings a lot of creativity and brings some interesting ideas and interesting chords and arrangements rather than saying, 'Alright, let's just go in to do what we [have] always done and what has been done before. I try to make my music interesting to me first, then hopefully other people will find it interesting, too."
Before that, Marley is looking forward to putting out "Ziggy Marley in Concert" as an iTunes exclusive today, Dec. 18, and worldwide both physically and digitally on Jan. 15. The 15-song set was recorded earlier this year, when Marley says he felt his band "was in a good place. The music was grooving alright and I felt good. There's a lot of improvisation, a lot of extended versions. So I just felt like it was a good time to put out a (live) record." The set also includes a pair of his late father Bob Marley's songs -- "War," paired with Ziggy's own "Justice," and "Is This Love."
"They're related to songs I do," the younger Marley explains. "I always try to make the songs have connections, especially when I put my father's stuff in my set list. There needs to be a place, a reason why they follow." "Is This Love," he notes, actually followed his own "Love is My Religion" during the concerts, but that song didn't make the album's final track list because of space and royalty issues.
Marley has also signed on to the Rotary This Close to Ending Polio Campaign, joining Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bill Gates, actors Jackie Chan and Amanda Peet, and NBA star Pau Gasol. He's donated his song "Personal Revolution" to the "End Polio Now" benefit album.
"It's something close to my heart," Marley notes. "In Jamaica, we eradicated polio many years ago, but there are a lot of kids suffering in Africa still. I knew some people with polio when I was growing up, so when they asked me it was easy to say yes and lend music to it, whatever they needed."
In other endeavors, Marley is working on an Internet short film adaptation of his first "Marijuanaman" graphic novel and is hoping to write a sequel soon. He's also starting a line of foods called Ziggy Marley Organics that will use coconut oil, hemp seeds and other natural ingredients.