LargeUp: You came onto our radar on Shy FX’s “Soon Come.” Talk about how this came about and if you have more releases in the works with him. And what happened to that reggae LP project? It seems to have since disappeared.
Liam Bailey: Me and Shy are bredren. I met him when I was signed to Universal—he had remixed some of my tunes. [With “Soon Come’] I came into the studio and he had the riddim. I recognized it straight away from a compilation called Miss Ranking Thing, or something like that, so we did it in like 15 minutes. It was bless. I knew exactly what to put on there cause reggae, I approach it the same way I’d approach my mother over the dinner table. It just comes natural.
He’s working on an album called Cornerstone— I laid down some vocals for another track there, but that’s all in Shy’s hands at the minute. That’s all up in the air at the moment [but] he’s working on that still. I’ve done reggae before. I always have to do reggae or soul or blues—I’m always mixing it up—or acoustic. The last reggae release was the same year. It was a song called “When Will They Learn,” more of a soul, stripped-back, old-school reggae jam that I did in Brooklyn with Truth and Soul Records.
On the album I’ve just recorded [with Salaam Remi], there are tinges of reggae, but no reggae riddims on there. I think for artists with any [Jamaican] heritage whatsoever, or just any inclinations to absorb Caribbean culture, the best thing we can do is implement it into other forms of music the same way you do with food, you know what I mean? So that’s why I’m not afraid to be picking up the guitar and playing a blues rhythm or a soul rhythm because at the end of the day, imagine listening to Otis Redding on the beach, Hellshire Beach in Kingston, know what I mean? It still works.
It’s just natural for me to have something else come out of me than the last time. I’m very much a British man, you know—there are many different aspects of our culture. There’s Caribbean, good old Britannia, and then there’s the influence of America—all comes through me. I don’t want to limit myself and I’m glad I’ve never had to consciously do that. Or consciously force myself to mix it up.