Now Things: An Interview with Liam Bailey


LU: So your debut album on Flying Buddha with Salaam Remi, tell us what we can expect. You’ve described it as going to have a “heavy Soul, duppy rock” sound.

LB: Well it has a reggae tinge to it through my blood and my energy. The “duppy rock” is like the ghost spirit of my heritage coming through this wave of blues and soul. As I was writing and producing some of the songs I was like, that’s the kind of vocal you’d hear on a reggae song. But I did it without implementing a reggae riddim in a rock sound, that would be silly. That’s when you start having this awkward fusion. It’s not right. Leave reggae alone, man. The soul will come through. The album, it’s like proper guitar music. It’s like warm bluesy music with a ’70s rock-ish element to it. And there’s like a couple of acoustic tracks too. There are soft blues elements and then really soulful elements.

LU: Give us some insight into how Salaam worked with you and helped you shape the album.

SR: Because Salaam’s produced a lot of music for me, this time he wanted me to do the music. So I co-produced or produced the music on this and he was just like, look, listen to yourself, follow where your instincts are. I’ve got full faith in you, full trust that you can deliver, and if you can’t decide which way to go then I’m here to bounce off of. That’s been really handy, him in that role. And he’s produced some songs on there as well. He let me really try and bring out my vision as an individual who comes from many cultures. I’m a mixed-base individual. I have the old-guard English in me and then I have the excitement and culture from the West Indies. And I’ve been kind of susceptible to many forms of Western music. It’s been nice to bring all of that out and not just be one-dimensional.

LU: Talk about your previous two EPs on Amy Winehouse’s label, Lioness: 2 AM Rough Tracks and So Down, Cold. How will your debut album differ or be similar?

LB: Both of those albums are acoustic, basically my voice and my guitar. We’ve used two songs off the second EP for this album—“So Down, Cold” and “Breaking Out”—but with a full band. “So Down, Cold” is one of the best pieces of music I’ve recorded in my life. When you hear that, you’re going to flip. I swear to God, it’s not even a joke. And this is the difference with these songs on this album. I’m telling people how dope it is, whereas before, I was never sure. And I like that feeling because I feel like I’ve covered each element of my personality on this record. And when I get bored with one track I can just put on another and I like the album again. I’m really happy with it.

LU: Talk a little more about the known influence of reggae on Amy Winehouse

LB: She was more of a ska and rocksteady girl. As far as a reggae album though, I know she had a few different ideas of where to go. Amy, she’s a bit like me, she didn’t see any reason to just be stuck on one page. She was always looking—she had an attention span [laughs] that could be quite short. I know that she dipped into reggae quite a lot.