Saturday, 26 September 2009

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Catching up with Tarrus Riley

MAN WITH A MESSAGE: Tarrus Riley looks ahead

Omar ‘Tarrus’ Riley is more than an award-winning reggae singer with a golden voice. Ever since he debuted the repeat-worthy smash singles “She’s Royal” and “Lion Paw” a couple years back, this second generation Rastafarian artiste has been on our radar, and continues to thrill listeners with his socially relevant message music.

Now, he’s released his third album,
Contagious, an infectious combo of rootsy reggae and up-tempo grooves, which has spawned such singles as “Start Anew” and “Forever More” featuring songbird Alaine. At the same time, he’s busy re-defining his brand, adding such projects as a new clothing line and an anti-violence campaign to his résumé. TALLAWAH recently dialed up the crooner, now 30, to discuss the new record, his ongoing journey and where he’s headed next.

TALLAWAH: How does this latest album, Contagious, differ from your previous releases Parables and Challenges?
TARRUS RILEY: A whole heap of things different this time around. We have more up-tempo rhythms on this album, and we step up the writing thing as well. It was the same approach though in terms of keeping the music positive and uplifting for the people.

TALLAWAH: Do you feel pressured to keep up with the demands of technology in promoting your music nowadays?
RILEY: We don’t make music with pressure. We make music to ease pressure and get people in a good mood, so we don’t pay attention to that too much.

TALLAWAH: Do you remember the first time you realized you could make it as a successful reggae artiste?
RILEY: That was probably back in the early ‘90s, when I was deejaying as a youth and working with Danny Browne at the studio and watching my father perform.

TALLAWAH: How have you managed to stay so positive and socially conscious in an industry largely mired in negativity and controversy?
RILEY: We are into the music, not the industry hype. We stay focused on what we have to do and stay surrounded by family and good friends. We love the music and we use that as motivation. I am not perfect and I am not a priest, but I always try to do my best in anything I set out to do.

TALLAWAH: So what’s your message for Jamaican young people?
RILEY: Don’t try to grow up too fast. Try to take advantage of your youth and listen to what the elders have to say.

TALLAWAH: What’s up next for you?
Tarrus Riley: Well, I just come off a six-week overseas tour, so right now we are working on some new songs into next year. We have a bag o’ things working on. There’s a clothing line that we are also working on, doing some ‘She’s Royal’ and ‘Contagious’ t-shirts among other things. Plus, there is also the ‘Start Anew’ Anti-Violence Campaign that we plan to continue to promote in the new year.

For more on Tarrus Riley, check out our review of his new album, Contagious, HERE

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