Shaggy has sold more than 20 million records worldwide and the reggae artist with the unique voice is on his way to Chilliwack on Nov. 25.
Despite the Grammy winning ‘Boombastic’ and hits like ‘It wasn’t Me,’ Shaggy still sees himself in the role of underdog.
“The only way to survive and to win is to go against the grain,” he tells the Progress.
Shaggy is the stage name of Orville Richard Burrell, a reggae crossover artist with a commanding presence and a unique tone.
He’s zooming across California near Los Angeles in a tourbus, conducting the interview over his cell phone, as he heads toward his next gig at the Canyon Club in the Agoura Hills.
Going against the grain as an underdog is really the motivation that drives him.
“It’s not likes it’s an even playing field in the industry for reggae music.”
Shaggy performs live at the Echo Room on Main Street on Monday, Nov. 25 featuring Rayvon.
He’s been busy touring the new album he did with production duo Sly and Robbie called Out of Many, One Music. He’s been travelling and performing across the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada.
So what encourages him to break new ground?
“I’ve been in love with music from the day I first heard it,” he says. The singer doesn’t really consider himself an expert in too many domains, but making reggae music is one thing he knows he does very well.
His home base is Kingston, Jamaica, but he has a pied-a-terre home in New York City as well.
Shaggy enjoys collaborating, and says each different voice adds a different texture to music, and breaks up the monotony.
“If you’re always hearing guitar in the song for example, at some point you’re going to want to hear a horn or a keyboard.”
His latest video, You Girl feat. Ne-Yo, is the second single of the new album.
Asked what artist’s music he can hear over and over without tiring of it, Shaggy names Bill Withers.
“You know Bill Withers? You’ve heard the song, Lean On Me?”
The Grammy winning songwriter Bill Withers also penned Ain’t No Sunshine and Just the Two of Us and Use Me.
Voice competitor Tessanne, who is also from Jamaica is on the show, The Voice, because of Shaggy’s recommendation.
“She’s been a good friend of mine for a couple of years,” he says. “She has that classic voice. She’s an amazing artist who is heading in the direction taken by the greats like Celine or Whitney.”
So he’s played a lot of gigs over the years.
Does audience reaction make or break him?
“The audience reaction enhances the experience, not makes or breaks it.”
He remembers what he considers his weirdest gig ever in Japan. He had to perform for a roomful of mostly business men in suits who were just staring at him.
“I remember thinking, ‘how do I connect with these guys?'”
He decided to go for it, sitting in one of the ladies’ laps and getting up on a table.
“You can’t just sit down and sing in a case like that. It becomes elevator music. You have to yell, scream, jump on tables, make jokes, sit in their laps, do a striptease. Whatever works.”
Shaggy, Out of Many One Music Tour 2013, featuring Rayvon, Nov. 25, doors 8 p.m. at Echo Room Night Club on Main Street, Chilliwack, tickets $40 each 604-703-4450.