Tricky BusinessAn interview with Tricky
One-time collaborator with the Wild Bunch and later Massive Attack
and company were instrumental in defining the trip-hop sound. After working on two studio albums with Massive Attack, Tricky launched himself into the international spotlight as a solo artist in his own right. His debut album Maxinquaye
is still regarded as one of the top albums from the decade and his name is synonymous with exploring new boundaries in electronic music. After some lukewarm responses to his subsequent work, Tricky has re-emerged with a new album, Blowback
, and looks set to silence any critics who thought he could never match his initial success.
Amazon.co.uk Music editor David Trueman speaks to Tricky about the ideas behind the music and how he managed to secure such an impressive roster of guest appearances on Blowback
, his fifth (sixth if you count Nearly God
In what ways is this album different from your previous work?
I wanted to make an album for everybody. Maxinquaye, Pre-Millennium Tension, etc. are all good for certain people. I don't want to say that these are "fans" buying whatever I make 'cos that's insulting--but I wanted to make an album that everyone could enjoy.
Amazon.co.uk: So you wanted it to be accessible but still credible?
Tricky: Yeah. I remember hearing Nevermind
by Nirvana. I'd never heard anything like it but it appealed to lots
of different people. Nirvana was Kurt Cobain. I'd heard the music all before but his voice made it something different. I look around at all these music channels and radio stations and I think they're insulting me. Back in the days of Marc Bolan your art had to be at such a high level to get in the charts, but that's all changed now.
Amazon.co.uk: How long did the album take to make?
Tricky: Three or four weeks in all.
Amazon.co.uk: That's quick, where did you start?
Tricky: I was doing about two tracks a day. I always start with the keyboards. One note or sound and then I work up from there. I don't believe you make the music, the music makes you. You start off with a sound and if you like the vibe and get into it, four hours later you've got a track and you don't know where it came from. That's why I don't believe in genius.
Amazon.co.uk: How critical are you of your own work? Does much get thrown away?
Tricky: No. If I don't like the sound then it doesn't go any further. That way I never end up layering loads of tracks, spending hours then dumping it... I only work on the good ideas.
Amazon.co.uk: Why did you choose some of the covers on the album, especially "No Name"?
I've always loved that song. It's such a beautiful melody and I've been meaning to cover it for years. It's from an old musical but I first heard Steve Martin singing it in a film, "The Man with Two Brains". I wanted to sample his vocal but I thought there could be problems with clearance so I re-recorded it. And like I said I love Kurt Cobain and Nirvana, the lyrics are so deep--stuff like "The animals I've trapped have now become my pets". I love it and I had a chance to cover it.
Amazon.co.uk: Who did you get together with on Blowback?
Well the Chilli Peppers asked me to produce an album for them. Not Californication, the one before (One Hot Minute), but then they asked me to do some remixes of Californication but that never happened either. Then one night I bumped into John Frusciante in a bar and he said they'd been looking for me. I was in LA at the time about to record the Alanis Morissette vocal so I said "Why don't you all come down the studio"... so Flea, Anthony Kiedis and John Frusciante came to the studio and we recorded some stuff. Cyndi Lauper once asked me to produce her album but I didn't like the engineer so I turned it down. Later on I bumped into her at a restaurant, then I kept bumping into her so I asked if she'd sing on the album. Hawk(man) and Amber(sunshower) work on quite a few of the tracks but they were good friends of mine anyway.
Amazon.co.uk: Who else would you like to work with in the future?
Maynard from Tool and Robert Smith from the Cure. Actually I'd love to work with Kate Bush too.
Do you like working with other people or do you prefer working solo?
Tricky: I'd never work in a band again--you've got all these different people and they all want different things. When I was in Massive Attack, 3D wanted to be a superstar but I was young and I wanted to f**k everything up, y'know, f**k everyone off and be a punk rocker. Then when it becomes serious business you've got all these people going different ways and it ends up with people saying who wrote what and you're all going "I wrote that"--"No you didn't I wrote that"--and it wasn't fun for me.
Amazon.co.uk: Who are you listening to at the moment?
Tool and Capone & Noreaga. They're not influences, I just enjoy them.
Amazon.co.uk: Who would you say are influences?
I don't really have influences--I listen to all music like the Specials, Public Enemy, Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel. Everything really.
Are there any plans to tour with Blowback
Tricky: We're doing some festivals like V2001 and Meltdown then there's a plan for a European tour before the end of 2001.
Amazon.co.uk: Do you play any instruments live?
Tricky: Keyboards a little bit and a guy tuned this guitar all to "D" for me so I can bang around on that, y'know. Keyboards, guitars, just f**king about and having fun with it.