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Irie Love – it’s all in the name! Her father must have had a premonition of things to come! A reggae fan, he named her Irie after the Third World song ‘Irie Ites’. Born Irie Love Taylor in Kailua, Hawaii in 1982, she is a descendant of the legendary Love’s Bakery founder Robert Love in Hawaii.
Irie began singing at thirteen years of age, performing solos at the family church. While she loved music, it was not her first choice as a career growing up. An athlete like her father who was an NFL linebacker, she aspired to become a player for the WNBA, until her hopes were dashed by a leg injury. At seventeen Irie sang in the ‘Brown Bags to Stardom’ competition in Honolulu, where she so impressed one of the judges, John Iervolino, that he later signed her to his record label, Quiet Storm Records.
In addition to being featured as the only new artist on his world music compilation, her image appeared on the cover and was used to promote the album. She moved to California in 2000 to attend Azusa Pacific University where she studied music, her major, and business. As well as training in opera and classical voice, she also taught herself how to play acoustic guitar and ukulele.
It didn’t take long for her to be noticed and in 2002 Irie got her first big break as backup vocalist for Pink. Subsequent tours followed with Chaka Khan, Dave Hollister and others. Irie’s solo career began opening for major reggae acts in Hawaii such as Steel Pulse, Damian and Julian Marley, Gregory Isaacs and many more. In 2006 Love was introduced to the reggae group Morgan Heritage at the East Fest in Jamaica and soon after signed to their production company, Gedion Music. She went on to tour the world as their opening act. Writing almost all of her own material, Irie is a versatile performer whose style encompasses reggae, jazz, R&B, soul, hip hop and dancehall effortlessly. Her mission as an artist is to “empower, inspire and entertain the world through her love of music”. She released her first album, Ehiku in the fall of 2008.
A second album quickly followed in 2009. Life of Love was released in Japan, where Irie gained popularity and later returned to tour in 2014. Her album This Is Irie Love, released in October 2012, went straight to the top 50 on iTunes USA. Other works by Love include Let It Fly (feat. Peetah Morgan), Good Love, It Is Wut It Is (feat. Fiji) and Step Up. Her latest duet single, Better Than Love with Christopher Ellis, produced by reggae superstar Damian Marley, climbed the charts on Hawaiian radio. She has also been featured in several compilation albums. After a whirlwind lifestyle, living in Jamaica, England and California as well as completing two world tours, Irie returned to Hawaii in 2014 explaining in one interview “there’s no place like home.” There, in conjunction with the Mana Maoli project and her own Empower the Youth campaign, she became involved with the Mana Mele Mentorship program. Her goal is to expose youth to musical influence, something she felt she didn’t have enough of growing up.
Irie is an avid foodie, publishing her own blog, irielovesfood.com. It seems to be in her blood, possibly a throwback to her family’s culinary heritage. Her blog is currently being developed for television, and will combine featured guest chefs, her favorite recipes and live music, neatly tying in two of her passions. She plans to air the pilot for this series on her Youtube channel in fall 2015. Keeping up a busy schedule, she continues to travel to Los Angeles and New York to work on her upcoming album, which she says will be more R&B/Hip-Hop, slated for release in early 2015.
Irie Love recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund her second album, ‘We Rise’. When her fans a.k.a ‘Irie-ites’ came out in numbers to support her music, Irie Love responded, “I’m humbled by all the Aloha and Support from my friends, family and fans!” IRIE Magazine is proud to present this exclusive interview with our IRIE LOVE! Much Love & Respect!
IRIE. How did you get involved in reggae music?
Irie Love: I grew up on reggae. It’s the most popular genre in Hawaii and my dad, who gave me the name Irie, used to play reggae music on my mom’s belly when she was pregnant with me. Then as I grew up, he would always make reggae mix tapes for me. Reggae is a huge part of who I am as a person, not just my genre of choice.
IRIE. Where does Irie Love come from?
Irie Love: Irie Love is my birth-given name. Irie was given to me by my father, inspired by the song ‘Irie-ites’ from Third World and Love was the family surname on my mother’s side, but having all girls, she decided to give it to me as a middle name.
IRIE. Did you know from an early age that you would have a career in music, in particular reggae music?
Irie Love: I never imagined music as my life’s purpose and career before I was about 16 years old, when after I injured my leg in pre-season of my senior year playing basketball, and my friends encouraged me to enter our high school talent competition. I always thought I’d be a professional basketball or volleyball player. Sports were my life before music! I played soccer, basketball, volleyball, canoe paddling, track and field and even touch football in college.
IRIE. What was an impactful moment for you on the stage?
Irie Love: When I sang at my high school talent show and ended up winning, I somehow knew in that moment my whole life was about to change. I was so nervous, my voice basically shook through the entire song (His Eye Is On The Sparrow from Sister Act the movie) and I was so overwhelmed with emotion when everyone cheered and I won. I never really won anything in my life, on my own, before that moment. It was life-changing for sure!
IRIE. Before starting your independent music career, you sang backup vocals for artists like Pink, Chaka Khan and Morgan Heritage to name a few. What was one lesson you learned from that experience?
Irie Love: Treat EVERYONE with compassion and kindness. I won’t call anyone out specifically, but I think when you reach a certain level of success, a lot of the time people build so many walls that they forget what it was like to be on the rise, still climbing, and they can treat people as if being at a certain status allows them permission to talk down to those around them or that are working for them. I do my best to be honest and treat everyone with the same respect I would want given to me. I believe ‘status’ puts you in a position of power which should be utilized to lead by example. I practice that mantra daily.
IRIE. You started Irie Aloha Records, in 2011. How is it to have your own label?
Irie Love: I was at a fork in the road. I had 7 years of recordings, and no record deal, no money and “no where to turn”. My mentors Fiji and Peetah Morgan both encouraged me to start my own label and put out my own album. I am grateful to be alive in this time in history, in the age of technology and information, where it is so much easier to be self-made. The internet is an amazing tool!
IRIE. You have a lot of supporters! Who’s on team Irie Love?
Irie Love: Team Irie Love, is a collective of fans, supporters, kickstarter supporters, friends (both old and new) and family. I call my fans ‘Irie-ites’, per my namesake and the meaning behind it is beautiful to me (a Rastafarian term of inclusion used to describe those who are at peace and in touch with their inner selves, and whose cool runnings don’t tread on the rights of others.)
IRIE. What kind of influences and inspirations do you draw when creating music?
Irie Love: Nature, life experience, testimonies of others, and my sleeping dreams are all big inspirations for me when I write my music or am writing with someone else. Artists that have inspired me are Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Jessie J, Sade, Bob Marley, Peetah Morgan and Fiji.
IRIE. What instruments do you play?
Irie Love: When I was about 9, I took accordion lessons (LOL); then growing up in school in Hawaii, we learn to play the basics of Ukulele, and in college I taught my self to play the acoustic guitar just enough to be able to write more songs.
IRIE. You’re currently working on your second album, ‘We Rise’. Do you have any details you can share with us? What can we expect from the album and when will it release?
Irie Love: I plan to release the new album in the first quarter of 2016. I am so excited for this album! It will be very different sonically from the first album. I will not have any ‘love’ tunes on the album. This album is for inspiration and empowerment. I am heavily into this new cross genre culture we have in reggae right now with groups like Major Lazer and Popcaan and Jah Cure including a lot more contemporary sounds and genre influence in their music.
IRIE. You’ve started working with youth — what is that experience like and what drives you to do it?
Irie Love: I became a part of the Mana Maoli Collective a few years ago when they asked me to record a song for their benefit album to help raise funds and awareness for the charter schools in Hawaii, bringing back the Hawaiian culture to our education system. I love Mana Maoli! I love working with kids. They inspire me as much as I inspire them. It’s definitely a mutually beneficial relationship. I am now also a part of the Mana Mele program where I was given the opportunity to perform, speak and teach a group of students at various schools across my island (Oahu) about music and life. Encouraging the youth to be all that they are meant to be, and to remove fear from their lives, is also a part of my Empower the Youth campaign which I started a few years before I joined Mana Maoli/Mana Mele. I started speaking to kids through the Boys and Girls Club when I was still in college (early 2000s) and that’s where I guess I would say it all started.
IRIE. Is there anything else you would like to say to the IRIE family?
Irie Love: Mahalo for giving me a platform to share my story and for taking the time to get to know me a little better. I believe every opportunity is valuable, even the ones we sometimes perceive as difficult or ‘bad’. Life is a magical journey, to be lived at its highest potential. I believe in magic, real magic, the power we all have inside us, to create the lives we are meant to live at our highest most optimum sensation of well-being. I encourage everyone I come in contact with, both on and off stage to live their highest life with unwavering faith in the unseen. Aloha! Stay IRIE :).
IRIE. Much Love & Respect!