|speak no evil, hear no evil|
|Inquiring minds want to know: Is Tricky really the prince of darkness - or are we reading too much into his demonic gurgling?|
|Critics and fans alike
have got Tricky pegged. He's diabolical. He's evil. He's
downright mephistocated. Maybe it's the way his expansive, macabre
soundscapes often shroud his lyrics. Maybe it's his unsettling gurgling
vocals. Then again, it could be the fiendish, gender-bending persona he
offers up in photos. Ask the man himself about it, though, and he'll
suggest that it's more what people perceive than what he projects.
Tricky's satanic image was spawned by the sex-and-danger trip-hop of his critically acclaimed 1995 debut record, Maxinquaye, doubled in size on the furious Pre Millennium Tension, and swelled out of proportion thanks to the sinister sound he lent to collaborations with artists like Björk, Neneh Cherry, and Terry Hall of The Specials. With his latest release, Angels With Dirty Faces, it appears as though he's poised to unleash more darkness on the masses. Or is he?
Tricky and I talked a great deal about the
|evil reputation that
follows him around, but in the five hours we spent together, he never seemed
like anything but a nice guy - albeit a nice guy who was witness to some
nasty stuff growing up with ganster uncles in Bristol, England. He smiled
and laughed often, delighted in the music he played for me, and talked
reverently about his 3-year old daughter Mazy.
Admittedly, there is an uneasiness about Tricky's music- maybe even a sense of skin-crawling menace - but good music should be provocative, and Angels With Dirty Faces certainly is, from the desperate junkie-on-the-run pace of "Money Greedy" to the dreary flink of "Mellow" and the PJ Harvey-assisted gothic gospel march of "Broken Homes." His compositional ability is as uncanny as ever, forcing together disparate musical styles, diversified instrumentation, and harmonic dissonance in a post-industrial gloom that may, indeed, inspire fear of the darkness. Or whatever it is.
|SWING: So why
do you think you're portrayed as such a dark guy?
Tricky: People think I'm dark because I'm talking about some flicked up, violent things that happened right in front of my face when I was a kid. I've seen my uncle put guns into people's hands and say things like, "With this you can get anything you want." But I read an interview last year that said Shaun Ryder [of Black Grape] is the closest thing England's got to gangsta rap because he's talking about selling drugs and life on the street, and he don't get called dark. So I can only, think it's because I'm black.
you enjoy playing that dark role?
SWING: But how do you expect
to distance yourself from that image if you continue to perpetuate it in
|SWING: Do you
think playing that sinister role has helped you in your career?
Tricky: Listen, here's the thing. See how successful I am in music? Even if I were a gangster, I'd be this successfiil. It's energy, It's not just about talent. It's about wanting to get there, as well.
SWING: Your debut album, Maxinquaye
was such a huge success, but you've gone in a different direction with
Angels With Dirty Faces.
It's much more aggressive, the edges are
SWING: I had thought your
voice was intentionally distorted on your albums, but I can tell now that
it's natural. How'd get that way?
Michael Gelfand is the senior editor at Musican magazine.