|...now they call me superstar
In the same year in which he records 'Maxinquaye' (1994) he also works with other musicians like the Swedish band Whale. The results are three tracks on Whale's album 'We care' ('Kickin', 'Tryzasnice' and 'Young, dumb and full of cum') and another song ('The Now Thing') that was turned out as a b-side. He also starts making remixes for other people, like the one for Angelique Kidjo ('Agolo') and Leena Conquest ('Boundaries'), both released in 1994.
In 1995, 'Maxinquaye' gets released. Besides Martina, it also features Icelandic singer Ragga ('You don't') and Alison Goldfrapp ('Pumpkin') on vocals. The album is very successful (Number two in the UK charts) and Tricky soon becomes a media darling and inventor of a new musical genre, the so called Trip-Hop. Tricky himself declares that he hates that term and doesn't see his music as Trip-Hop: "If you listen to trip-hop... if you actually listen to what trip-hop is, my music don't sound nothing like it. You can hear where kids have been influenced, and I can hear influences and shit, but it's totally different music. My music's my music, though." (Raygun 99). Probably everyone else hates the word in Bristol - now hyped as the hometown of Trip-Hop with bands and artists like Portishead, Massive Attack, Roni Size, Smith & Mighty, Statik Sound System, Monk & Canatella, Purple Penguin and the Cup Of Tea label.
But back to Tricky: He tours with PJ Harvey in Europe and the States and Martina is already pregnant (Alison Goldfrapp subs for her on tour). In April 1995 their daughter Mazy (often mispelled as Maisie) is born, soon after they start a solo tour through Europe and the US. Also around that time, Tricky founds his own record company 'Durban Poison', "named after a particularly potent brand of smoke" (The Face 96). The first release in October is an EP called 'I be the prophet' that Tricky released under the name 'The Starving Souls'. When asked why he used a pseudo-name he answered that this way he can release stuff faster. Other bands that he signed to Durban Poison include The Baby Namboos (mostly relatives of his), Genaside II, The Autumn People and Grace Jones. But for quite a while none of these releases really happened.
Meanwhile, Tricky's relationship with Martina is already only of an artistical nature. He is now with Björk and into some trouble with her former beau Goldie. He writes and produces two tracks on Björk's album 'Post' which is also released that year ('Enjoy' and 'Headphones'). Björk says about 'Headphones': "He was getting a lot of pressure from his record company, because there was a real buzz about his album, so he was a bit naughty and escaped to Iceland. We drove around in a four-wheel drive and saw the glaciers and swam in the hot spring and wrote this tune... I had this idea to do a song that is like a worship of headphones. The chorus is "My headphones saved my life, your tape lulled me to sleep." All the noises in the song are just-for-headphones stereo tricks. It didn’t need a lot of instruments. Tricky feels really strongly about noises and beats, and that is exactly my weakest point." (The Quietus). That winter, Tricky starts recording his next album in Jamaica, near Ochorios, after his relationship with Björk is officially over.
1996 is one of Tricky's most productive years. He releases not only two albums and one EP, but also a lot of remixes and other collaborations with artists like Bush ('The Crow II'), Intastellla ('Grandmaster'), Sub Sub ('Smoking Beagles', which is also released as a b-side on Tricky's single 'Tricky Kid' later this year), Yoko Ono ('Rising'), Elvis Costello ('Distorted Angel') and Ambersunshower ('Chaos'). He also does a remix for Garbage ('Milk'), but the band is obviously not satisfied with this dark and hypnotic remix and only releases a softer version on the official single. The original Tricky remix can only be found on the 7" single and a promo CD.
'Nearly God' is the first of Tricky's own releases in 1996. He explains later that the title is inspired by a German interviewer who asked him how it feels to be God, well, nearly God. The project contains collaborations with Terry Hall (singer of The Specials), Alison Moyet, Cath Coffey, Neneh Cherry, Björk and Martina. It was recorded in about three weeks in the summer, and Tricky himself describes it as "a collection of brilliant demos". Tricky has already appeared on Terry Hall's 'Rainbows EP' (released last year) - with a live version that they did together of the Special's song 'Ghost Town'. Besides Hip Hop (he did a lot of cover versions of Hip Hop songs on all his albums) The Specials were one of Tricky's biggest early musical influences. He used a sample from their song '(Dawning of a) New Era' in Aftermath ('version 1') and the lyrics of another Special's tune ('Nite Klub') in a live version of his own song 'Ghetto Youth' on this year's tour. A version of 'Little drummer boy' by Terry Hall and Tricky is rumoured, but never released.
Originally 'Nearly God' also included a song with Blur singer Damon Albarn, but he pulled the song off at the last minute. Tricky says: "He wants to work on something for like two months and then do the vocals again and again and again, and I don't work like that" (Raygun 96). The song is later recorded again with former Madness singer Suggs, but this version ('I'll pass right through you') doesn't get released either. Four of ten rumoured songs with Neneh Cherry get released on her singles 'Woman', 'Kootchi' and 'Feel it' throughout 1996 and 1997. He also records another song with Cath Coffey, a cover of the Grease song 'Summer nights' which will be released in 1997 on her debut album 'Mind the gap' (only released in Japan so far). There were rumours once that Tricky will release a second Nearly God album with all the leftover songs, but unfortunately that never happened.
Meanwhile Tricky has moved to New York. In summer '96, Tricky starts a project with underground New York Hip Hop bands, which is his first attempt to bring British and American Hip Hop together. The result is an EP on the Pay Day label in the US called 'Tricky presents Grassroots'. It contains collaborations with The Hillfiguzes, Laveda Davis, Stephanie Cooke, Robert Malary Jr, and a slightly different version of his own song 'Tricky Kid'. He records more songs that he wants for a project called Drunkenstein, but this release never happened, like so many recording at that time.
In November, Tricky's second solo album 'Pre-Millennium Tension' gets released. The title originated in a radio show, where the host described the nervousness of a calling woman with this term (PMT instead of PMS). 'Pre-Millennium Tension' is darker, more paranoid and not as radio friendly as 'Maxinquaye'. Tricky wanted it to be a punk record, and though the music may have turned out different it has this energy. He admits that he's still learning and wants "to write songs as good as Kurt Cobain or Bob Marley" (Raygun 96).
Besides all the recording he does a lot of touring during 1996 and 1997, including a Lollapalooza tour in summer '97. On these tours he starts to play a lot of unreleased songs, also long and freaked out versions of his songs. Later he says in an interview that this was one of the reasons he wrote the 'Pre-Millennium Tension' songs: to have some fast, energetic song to play live. He has also changed his live band now, only guitarist Patrice Chevalier is still there from the beginning on. Live shows can last up to two or three hours and include unreleased songs like "You" (the music ended up on 'Money Greedy', the lyrics on 'Tear out my eyes', both released on 'Angels with dirty Faces' in 1998), that can go well over 10 minutes (watch it on You Tube to get an impression). TV appearances in 1997 include a taping for Sessions at West 54th and MTV's Fashionably Loud.
After he already appeared in a film back in 1995 ('Go Now', where he basically played himself), Tricky gets his first role in a major film in 1997. It's Luc Besson's 'Fifth Element', but he has just a little role as 'Right Arm' beside the main villain Gary Oldman.
Throughout the years Tricky lived a rather unhealthy lifestyle, always out and always drinking too much. "I was at the point of chaos in my life. I was heading for disaster" (The Face 98). The turning point was a broken leg. Tricky spends three weeks in New Orleans, rarely goes out and drinks a lot of water: "That's the healthiest I've been in years" (The Face 98). He also records fourteen songs in New Orleans, influenced by the New Orleans atmosphere of Jazz, Blues and Voodoo. Only three of these will make it to the next album, though.
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