Tricky in mid chat

In a New York State of Mind


Interview by Daniel Ewacha
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

Tricky isn't your average musician. This is quite apparent from any of his three albums -- Maxinquaye, Nearly God and, his latest, Pre-Millennium Tension -- and he doesn't, in fact, consider himself a musician at all. Rather, he is an artist, and he will tell you that he creates images, both visually and musically, in hopes of reaching your soul; and that, above power, fame, money and status, is what is most important to him and ultimately is the force that drives him to tackle what's on his mind -- no matter how ugly it may happen to be.

After a (surprise) lengthy stopover with our famous border patrol, Tricky kindly sat down with a gaggle of media types before his recent Vancouver show at Richard's on Richards to discuss what it is that makes him tick.

"On Pre-Millennium Tension, I understand it but I don't understand it, and that's good," he states. "I think Maxinquaye is real dated album in that it so much sounds like, you know, under the trip-hop banner. I don't want to be involved in any genre, any trend. I don't want to be black, don't want to be white. I don't want to have short hair, long hair or be punk. I just want to create energy. Music is just energy. It's got nothing to do with trends. I'm trying to touch souls."

Tricky in mid chat According to Tricky, Pre-Millenium Tension was an album that just didn't have to be made -- it was an album that was going to be made whether he wanted to or not. And, to its creator, it was a natural progression.

"Pre-Millennium Tension has to do with the tension of the industry. After Maxinquaye, I kinda lost sight or forgot what the prize was. Before, if we could get three days in the studio, that's what it was all about. Then Maxinquaye was really successful, and then it seemed the prize was that the next album had to be successful. Everything gets mixed up. You start doing it for all the wrong reasons."

"For about a year I got really confused. I thought, 'I need more success.' But, now, I can just go to the record company and go into the studio -- or pay for it myself. With success you lose the prize, but with Pre-Millennium Tension I don't need the success. I'm doing it for me."

When Tricky first stepped into the scene it was through the ongoing group Massive Attack. After turning solo and the success of Maxinquaye, he admittedly "lost it." This loss of identity prompted Tricky to relocate to New York, a move he obviously does not regret.

"I fucked myself up," he says. "I destroyed it for myself by going to certain clubs. London makes me feel bad because I did a lot of stupid things while I was there: acted stupid, did think I was a superstar, did have a lot of attitude, going to clubs thinking I was the shit. You don't want to admit you were wrong, but going to London [now] just shows how shit I was."

Tricky and the gaggle of media types "New York's a whole different story. Living in New York has turned me into a kid -- I'm like a kid in a great new big toy store. There's no pressure. In London I've got a high profile; in New York people don't give a fuck who you are. It's easier being nobody."

Talking to Tricky you certainly get the sense of someone who has gone through a personal transformation in front of the world through his music, and at the end, he's become more 'real' or 'generic,' for lack of better words. A recurring subject pops up time and again throughout the interview: trends and their phonyness. Tricky has a fuming hatred for it and lets us know it:

"People who set up trends show a sense of insecurity. If you have to have a trend before any energy or feeling, then there's something wrong. I let my music speak for itself. That's why I'm not afraid to put on makeup or wear a dress in a video or onstage. I do what I want to do. I'm not about to label myself or put myself in a position to be labeled. If radio or MTV want to play my stuff, cool! But if it means changing the music to be more radio-friendly or video-friendly, fuck it. I don't want to be afraid of radio or MTV."

Tricky in mid chat Tricky also is quite diversified in whom he has worked and collaborated with. He's done an album with Neneh Cherry, remixed Garbage's "Milk" single, covered Depeche Mode's "Judas" on the Nearly God album and, most recently, worked on a project with everyone's favourite Satanists, Marilyn Manson. He is now making a name for himself on this side of the Atlantic -- no doubt he would have eventually -- but it seems as though he is everywhere: in magazines, in videos, credited on other bands' material.

Is he afraid of all the attention? Could North America be as heartbreaking to the man as his native England? Probably not. Tricky, it seems, has grown up over the past three years, and has released his pain and suffering to the world. But, to hear him say it, it's like he's been granted a second chance:

"All I have to do is remember how lucky I am. Every day I just remember how lucky I am, because, where I come from, Bristol, people don't get chances. I'm just very lucky."

And so are we.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on February 21, 1997

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