By Leah Victoria

Mr Boombastic is set to return to the Raggamuffin stage! I caught up with him to chat about the challenges of completing an album, making sure your face aches from smiling, and the good fried fish of New Zealand.

Hey Shaggy, how’s it going, what have you been up to?

Hey! I’m good, working, always working!

You’ve recorded a lot music this year right?

Yeah we’re always recording you know! Always keeping music coming! I’ve been in the studio last night and I’ll probably be back in the studio again today!

When you’ve recorded so much material, how do you narrow it down and decide what’s gonna be released and what’s gonna make the cut for your next album?

Oh that’s always a challenge you know! Essentially we’re making records really often you know, and I can’t just keep making records, and changing the album, and changing the direction you know coz we keep coming up with something else! So yeah, it’s a challenge!

You’ve got such a mix of styles in your repertoire, Reggae Fusion, Dancehall and also pop, what kind of direction are you taking your music in now?

Yeah well that’s the big thing for me! So I think it’s gonna have to be a bit of a mixture! There are some tracks that are great Dancehall tracks and others that are great as fusion! It’s definitely gonna be a rollercoaster ride of energising pleasure!

You released two versions of That Love this year. What was it for you that made that track really stand out from everything else and be released as a single?

The thing about a record like that is... you know we’re a team of people, which consisted of my team here in the studio and my record company’s team who promote the record. And looking at a number of things that they come up with at that time, that record felt like a record that was easy to go ahead and promote. It had a strong message to it, it was about a feel good record. I think the only thing that we probably messed up on there is that it came out a little late! I think it should have been out earlier in the summer. What we’re realising is some countries that have summer a little later, the record was doing really well there. So yeah we’re realising that a little bit! But you know,  as we get around we’ll figure it out!

Are you traveling much at the moment? Doing a lot of shows?

Nah I’m cool for Christmas! My last show was 2 nights ago, and no I’m just on the countdown to Jamaica and I’ll be there til the new year.

And then you’ll be heading over this way to New Zealand! Are you bringing a full band along with you or will it just be yourself performing?

Yeah it’s a full band! AndI’m bringing Rayvon with me! Obviously coz he does Summertime and a few songs like that with me. We’ve got a bunch of new songs that we haven’t played since the last time we were there at Raggamuffin so I’m looking forward to rocking it for the New Zealand audience you know! Including, I Need Your Love, That Love, Only Love and Don’t You Need Somebody with Enrique and Rayvon, you know songs like that I enjoy playing and we’d love to show them to  New Zealand.

It must feel quiet different playing alongside a full band compared to other performances where you go solo with a backing track? Which do you prefer?

I always like the live aspect with the band much better than tracks! But then again when you’re in a club environment the tracks can be really cool too, it just depends! Somewhere like a big outdoor vibe like that, you do want your band you know!

You’ve never really been the kind of artist to intentionally target mainstream audiences everytime, but somehow you’ve always seemed to find big success there. Why do you think that is?

I think it’s coz I always try to top myself. You know, I make records selfishly, I kinda make them to please myself, and just hope that they connect you know? And for the most part they do! And I guess no one is gonna be bored of me before I’m bored of me!

You became a household name in Europe back when Oh Carolina and Boombastic hit. Do you still get a lot of love from that side of the world?

Yeah, over there I have a very big following, you know I’m very blessed to have had that for 25 years, and I’m still a little taken aback by it to be frank! To see that I’m still a force to be reckoned with and that I’m still rocking the pop side of it that’s already there! You know I’ve left out of pop music and gone back into bands doing fusion, and then more mainstream stuff, then the reggae vibe and had all these big records, and then I decided to come back to pop again. And to still have success and the love there, man I have no complaints!! I’m blessed, it’s been quiet a life you know!

You seem to have this way of making the same track fit two completely different genres, for example recently, That Love you also made a Dancehall version. Do you find that one version will only be a hit in one part of the world and the other version makes it big somewhere else?

I don’t know, I’m hoping that the Dancehall version conquers the world man! You know Alkaline, he’s a phenomenon right now! He’s got all the kids loving him and looking at him right now. I’m glad I got him on that track!  He’s now at that climax where he’s doing real good, I’m glad I had the foresight and picked him to be on that song! He gives such great credibility for the record I think, and such a good energy so yeah!

So NZ is getting real excited to see you at Raggamuffin this coming February! You know it’s the 10th anniversary! What have you got in store for us?

Oh! I’m bringing the fun man!! Honestly I want the audience to go crazy you know! If you’ve ever seen me at Raggamuffin before, I’m all about high energy! I’m about people walking out with their jaw tired from smiling you know what I’m saying! That’s what I’m all about, so If I get that, then I’m in a good place!

So… any date planned for your next album?

Oh that’s a magical question my lovely! I wish I did! But I keep changing stuff you know! I’ve done this album about 4 or 5 times already! It’s ridiculous! Someone’s gonna have to stop me at some point and say that’s it lets go! There are quiet enough playerse involved here so I’m sure that will happen!

Who are you most looking forward to seeing perform at Raggamuffin next year?

Oh man! To be honest with you I don’t even know what the full line up is! Oh actually you know what will be cool, Julian Marley with the original Wailers, could be a good one! That’s like seeing the whole thing again man! I think since Bob Marley has died, that’s the clostest I’m gonna get to it! The original line up of Wailers, it’s the coolest thing!

What are you listening to at the moment? What’s on Shaggy’s ipod?

(Laughing) To be really honest with you, all the stuff I’ve been working on hahaha! Actually, also the last thing I’ve been listening to is Frank Sinatra! Yeah I’ve been lost in that a lot!

Any message for your Kiwi fans?

Oh my god I cannot wait to get there! There’s this little spot that I go to where they do this fried fish right near the hotel, down this little alley way. I forget what it’s called, but I can’t wait for that! And of course the party and the festival! I’m really excited to be coming!

Raggamuffin X

February 18th: Trusts Arena, Auckland

Raggamuffin X is R18. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster