[INTERVIEW] Maxi Priest Talks New Music, Working with Shaggy & Much More

Maxi Priest

Professionally known by his stage name, Maxi Priest [born Max Alfred Elliott] is one of the premiere international artists to initially merge Jamaican dance music with R&B influence, thus birthing what is now known today as “reggae fusion.” The impressive set’s first three offerings; “Anything You Want,” featuring Estelle and Anthony Hamilton, the Bounty Killer and Che Sav assisted “It’s A Summer Vibe” and a sizzling duet with Shaggy entitled “I’m Alright,” are only a brief glimpse into the iconic performer’s recently unleashed full length body of work, It All Comes Back To Love.

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We caught up with Maxi Priest to discuss the new project and much more.  Check out the full interview below.

Parlé Mag: “I’m Alright” is the LP’s lead entry — Tell me about this particular composition.
Maxi Priest:  It’s difficult now to remember exactly how this particular song came about. We were doing so much work in such a short space of time, with the two of us touring and having individual projects running at the same time, we truly wanted to get this album out this year. I remember we had the track built, and as the track was rolling we were discussing several different ideas. The one that stuck and felt right was the idea that came from the subject of people trying to hold you back, having envy and jealousy, as to others progressing. This immediately gave us the first four lines for the song, “I don’t care what they do to me, I’m alright and I don’t care what they say about me, I’ll be fine.” Working with Shaggy in the studio is always a joy and a pleasure. We bounce ideas from each other. It’s truly a blessing, and as they say, “the rest is history.” A new song was born; “I’m Alright,” Maxi Priest featuring Shaggy, from the new album, It All Comes Back To Love.

Parlé Mag: Of course “I’m Alright” comes courtesy of your just unveiled, not to mention exceedingly overdue, latest creation, It All Comes Back To Love — Conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?
Maxi Priest:  Overdue? I’m not so sure, as nothing can be done before its time. As much as I would like to put out an album every year, it’s not always possible because of the time it takes to promote one album around the world; while touring, performing, meet and greets, promoting and interviewing. Please understand this can take some time, even with the help of radio, magazines and the Internet, that we give thanks for. This album is titled It All Comes Back To Love. We know God is love… and there’s so much love in this album; it all comes back to God, as without Him there’s nothing and this album would not have been possible, as we explain in song (on) the title track on the album, “It All Comes Back To Love.” I hope that the understanding of love echoes through the minds of all.

Maxi Priest 2019
Parlé Mag: Not only is Shaggy featured on the album’s 1st selection, but he also produced the entire project.  What prompted this decision?
Maxi Priest:  The decision to work with Shaggy to create an entire album comes from the fact that we have known and worked together for so long; writing and creating songs over many years. A body of work was existing in his studio based on previous works we had done. But really, Shaggy met Steve Greenberg the head of BMG at a function, and somehow my name came up. Shaggy invited Steve to the studio to listen to some of the songs. Steve told Shaggy, to my knowledge, that he was very excited about the music that he heard and wanted to make it an album. We made the decision for Shaggy and his crew to produce the album, as there was no need to change the formula from what he heard for this album, so we kept it moving evolving it into It All Comes Back To Love.

Parlé Mag:  How does this project compare to you previous albums?
Maxi Priest:  Every project is different. Shaggy and I have collaborated on many projects creating and writing songs as artists, but more so on this new album, Shaggy wears an extra hat as a producer, along with Dwayne Shippy and Shane Hosoong. While giving each other space and understanding in the new roles, at times we saw things differently. Working with Shane and Dwayne was also another new experience. We had to trust one another. Music is very sensitive, and sometimes we can step on each others’ toes but it’s not about that, it’s how we rise above it. We sure had our moments, but for the betterment of the project, and as true professionals, and with the love we have for music, we moved forward to deliver and share another project of Maxi Priest with the world. I’m evolving as I am open to learn. I truly enjoyed the experience. We had fun. The vibe was right, and we created a great album. We really put our hearts and souls in this – working tirelessly – while being on the road and working on other individual projects at the same time. Every song is a special moment in time like a newborn baby.

Parlé Mag: Also appearing on the record are Anthony Hamilton, Estelle, Bounty Killer and Inner Circle, among others. How did some of these high profile collabos come about?
Maxi Priest:  Through phone calls, and who knows who knows who… Maxi chuckles We truly give thanks to all of the artists that appeared on the album, including my son, Che Sav, and Noah Powa.

Parlé Mag:  It’s been more than five long years since your last studio collection, Easy To Love, you touched on it before, but why such a lengthy delay between releases?
Maxi Priest:  Wow, I didn’t realize it was that long! The truth is, I’ve been working on quite a few interesting projects that I’m hoping will come out soon. I have been working on three different albums, while being on the road touring, promoting and flying the flag for music.

Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, how has not only the industry itself, but even more-so you, either changed and/or evolved since your whole inception into music?
Maxi Priest:  Wow! It’s really crazy because the business has changed, and it is changing as we speak. I’ve evolved as a person; a human being learning to take the rough with smooth, the ups with the downs, the swings and the roundabouts, growing as a man. When I first came into this business, I was a young boy. I was excited, not really understanding anything about the business; just wanting to sing, and, of course, make some money, so I could continue to sing. I have achieved quite a bit, and I’m thankful for that. I truly want to thank everyone who supported me over the years. If it weren’t for them, there would be no me. I would not be doing what I love, and I’m truly grateful. By the grace of God, I’ve managed to protect myself as a businessman. I have evolved in my learning and understanding of the changes in the business, especially with the Internet and all the different various ways of selling and buying music. It’s sure not like it was, but I am glad that there is still some vinyl left.

Parlé Mag:  Longevity: what do you attribute yours to?
Maxi Priest:  Prayers, my faith, hard work and dedication. This is my life. I’ve sacrificed and devoted myself for the love of music through the support from the people, as without them this could never be. There would be no Maxi Priest. My family… appreciating the opportunity, as so many do not get or haven’t been given the chance, and because of that I am very serious in what I do. I don’t take my blessings for granted.

Parlé Mag:  What do you want people to get from your music?
Maxi Priest:  Love, joy, happiness, healing, reflection, freedom, courage, strength… this list could go on and on, as there are so many different things that you may get from the individual songs.

Parlé Mag: Do you have any other outside/additional aspirations, maybe even completely away from entertainment?
Maxi Priest:  Art, drawing, sketching, doodling… More chuckles and playing football, or soccer as some may call it. Designing clothes, sneakers, property and sometimes… just silence.

Maxi Priest interview
Parlé Mag:  To date, what would you say have been your greatest career achievements, at least thus far anyway?
Maxi Priest:  My number one single on the Billboard charts with the song, “Close To You” that I wrote with my two good friends; Gary Benson and Winston Sellers. Being nominated for a Grammy Award seven times… and truly just being able to do what I love, which is music, for as long as I have been doing it. I pray it may continue.

Parlé Mag: One track of yours that you think defines you and why?
Maxi Priest:  “How Can We Ease The Pain,” featuring my good friend, Beres Hammond. Why? Because of my love for humanity.

Parlé Mag:  Lastly, what’s next for you, Mr. Maxi Priest?
Maxi Priest:  To promote my new album It All Comes Back To Love, and take it as far as we can go… new label, produce. The world is yours, as is the world is mine.

Images by Shervin Lainez

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