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Q&A: Rohan Marley

Entrepreneur and son of Bob Marley speaks about launching The House of Marley in India

Anurag Tagat Feb 15, 2013
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Reggae legend Bob Marley’s fifth son Rohan Marley was in Mumbai recently to launch The House of Marley, a range of eco-friendly audio products such as headphones and portable speaker docks. Marley speaks about bringing the brand to India with help of local audio-visual company Focal Audio Systems, growing up in the Marley household, and how Mumbai’s restlessness leaves him sleepless. 

What was the idea behind bringing The House of Marley to India?

Growing up in Jamaica, India was very dear to our hearts [in the Marley household]. My name is Rohan, you know! I always had a dream of coming to India to find out more about my name. My family had aspirations of India long ago. I heard about the love for reggae music in India, the love for my father’s music in India, so we just thought it’s about time we come to India and establish The House of Marley. 

Did you ask someone here about the meaning of your name?

Well I haven’t asked anyone here [laughs] but I know in Sanskrit, it meant ”˜the ascended one’. I’ve done my own research from long ago, but I just wanted to be here. When you’re here in the country and someone asks you your name and you say, ”˜Rohan’. They go: ”˜Rohan?’ So it’s just so easy for them.

Most of your other siblings are still into creating music, so why did you choose to deal with the business side of things?

I was given this duty by my family. When I started to design clothing, my sister Cedella [first-born daughter of Bob and Rita Marley, fashion designer and entrepreneur] told me I should go into designing clothes for men. All my brothers and sisters were busy developing their music in the studio, while I was an athlete in college. So I really wanted to find my own niche, and how I could represent my family to the fullest. And me, play music? I just don’t think I need to [laughs]. 

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But I’m still sure you play an instrument

Yeah I do, I play the drums and the guitars but I didn’t think it was necessary for me to pursue a music career when all my brothers already have a music career. They’re delivering a message, and it’s the same message I have, it’s my father’s message. Why do I need to be there [in music] when there’s no one here? My family instructed me to be the business guy of the family, and represent them philanthropically and speaking about who we are.

What was it like growing up in the Marley household?

Well, you respect your elders, and you respect your older brothers and sisters. My brother Stephen is only two weeks older than me, my other brother Robert [Robbie Marley] is only two days older than me, but they’re my bigger brothers. When they tell me I’ve got to go, I got to go. When Stephen walks into the room, I get up and give him my seat. We were raised to love each other and respect your older siblings, and keep up with the teachings and philosophy of Haile Selassie I [Ethiopian regent and returned messiah to Rastafarians] and what your father has intuited in you as a child. And [it’s also about] having your brothers and sisters to guide you and elevate your own consciousness. That’s what the Marley household was all about.

You said in an interview that you would “bleed orange and green.” What did you mean by that?

[Laughs] I used to play football for the University of Miami Hurricanes, and I said that because I will always be a Hurricane. We’re like a brotherhood. All the players are a tight-knit group.

How many years did you play there?

It was from 1991 to 1995. We were one of the championship teams; our defense was always ranked first or second and we were always ranked in the top three in the country. I was able to grace the field with Warren Sapp, Kevin Williams and so many others who went on to become hall-of-famers in the NFL [America’s National Football League].

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I played with a lot of wonderful people that loved the game there, and I’ve been taking that spirit and that energy from football into House of Marley because we can only hit people for so long, and damage them [laughs]. I really wanted to channel my energy into doing something good, and with The House of Marley I’ve been trying to do that.

You’ve lived in the US for nearly three decades. What do you think reggae means to musicians today?

The meaning of reggae music will never change. Reggae is the heartbeat of music, and you can hear it if you listen to the music close enough. It brings serenity and calm to the people, just like a breath. It’s form of meditation. Reggae music is about peace and love, and it strikes this vibration within you to carry a pace in life.

There were several conflicting reports about your relationship with Lauryn Hill”¦

There are many false stories out there about how we live our lives and what really took place, so sometimes I like to correct it. There’s only so much you can listen to when people talk buffoonery. But it’s all good, because she is a wonderful musician, a great person and a great mother, and I’ll respect her for the rest of my life. She’s the mother of my children, so there’s never one bone in my structure that can ever speak anything slyly ill of her, not even close.

You know how much work she has to do just being a mother and also a musician? I myself travel so much, it’s so much harder than it is on me. Not that I’m not a good father, but mothers are more intricate, more hands-on, and mothers are just greater [laughs].  

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