Jamaica Gleaner / 1. What is your favourite Christmas memory?
Going to Sting with my father to see Buju Banton for the first time. Dis a Buju for we. That was the year them keep two Sting. (Tarrus Riley’s father is singer Jimmy Riley. The two collaborated on a version of the elder Riley’s Black Mother Pray , which appears on the younger Riley’s Mecoustic album. Another of their duets is Pull Up Selector . Jimmy Riley died in March 2016.)
2. Did you ever believe in Santa Claus?
Never. My mother and father make sure from start. Them work too hard to give me things. Them not going to give credit to nobody. (There was another influence as well, as Riley breaks into the Natural Ites song “In my house there is a picture on the wall/Rastafari sit upon his throne” .)
3. You are from St Thomas. What is your opinion of the roads in the parish?
They need to hurry up and fix them. The road is horrible. It will be a good thing when the road fix. Driving in the parish, the road ugly. The people stand up and make some noise (a reference to the recent protest).
4. If you were to do over one of Buju Banton’s songs with him, which would it be?
There are some artistes I hold in high regard and I would not want to touch them song. I take it personal;, to be a part of my life. If I touch it, it would not be the same. When I hear (he breaks into song with “strange this feeling I’m feeling….”, part of the title track to Buju’s 1995 album Til Shiloh), it do something to me. I will sing it, but I will not do anything to it (as a recording). I will sing it, but in my own way. I would not even sample it. Me no want nobody change my lyrics. When me write me no want nobody change my lyrics.
5. What is the shortest time you do as a paid performance?
About 45 minutes. That would be me on a show with other people. The longest one? Three hours, in Zimbabwe. Those things are the dream come true. (He names some of his albums, including Parables, Mecoustic and Contagious, as well as some singles which have not yet been included on full-length sets). Is more than three hours of music that.