Trick 'n' mix
The Bristol scene's brightest star talks about his influences and the acts who shaped his sound, or are about to. Tricky, don't lose their numbers...

By Stephen Dalton

RENAISSANCE MAN, collaborator supreme, chameleon... after shifting over 85,000 copies ot his mighty debut album, Maxinquaye, and hammering the singles charts with his twisted speed-punk hit 'Black Steel', Tricky is shaping up to be British pop's genre-busting, gender-bending man of the year.
   Taking a break between studio sessions for the forthcoming Durban Poison project - a collection of wigged-out duets featuring the likes of Björk, Terry Hall and Blur's Damon Albarn - this heavy-weight told VOX about the friends and sparring partners, boxers and rappers, heroes and villains who make up his personal hall of fame...

Pioneers of super-dense head-fuck hip-hop production and ultra-political rap fury whose 'Black Steel In The Hour Of Chaos' was given a blistering balls-out punk-rock respray on the Tricky single 'Black Steel'...
   "They were the first hip-hop band to say anything to the youth. When I was hanging around in the days before Public Enemy, the youth wouldn't say they were proud of being black. You were made to feel a deviant. But Public Enemy changed thousands of young kids' attitudes, including mine.
   "But it's weird, they weren't reaIIy that influential because they just went their own way and nobody followed them. You can't really [imitate] Public Enemy, although I think that guy out of Hip-hoprisy thought he was Chuck D for a while.
   "It wasn't a style, it was a message - he was a politician, and you can't follow that."

Flirty-voiced ice goddess who "borrowed" Tricky for her new album, Post, and repaid him by guesting on his forthcoming all-star collaboration project...
   "I liked a lot of The Sugarcubes' stuff. Her voice is so unusual. It's not a pop voice, not a soul voice, not anything - it's just her. Her attittide is that she does what she wants, and she always has. As soon as I met her, that was it... we got on really well. But, musically, we're totally different. Björk's open to other people, wereas what I do is my thing. The deal was that there's been no money exchanged. I said: 'If I put two tracks on your album, you give me two vocals for my album.' It's easier like that. When you've got to sort out deals before you work, you end up not working."
The monocled multineer of British boxing, a flamboyant motormouth who often rubs everyone up the wrong way...
  "He gets on people's nerves but I think that's because he doesn't actually agreewith boxing. The boxing circuit sees him as disloyal but he's telling the truth - he's doing it for the money and people do get brain damaged by this. Most boxers aren't honest enough to say that.
   "When he fights, he's so beautifull, so graceful. I think he's very underrated. I've analysed his fights and, since Michael Watson, I don't think he's hit anybody so hard. I've seen fights where he's telling the referee to stop it - he's got someone on the ropes and doesn't want to hit him again. That's a real man.
Mistress of dark, tormented bluesology, also Tricky's inspired choice of touring partner recently and a possible collaborator in the near future....
  "Her lyrics are lust amazing, so fucking real, so clever... they totally hit the spot with me. What we've got in common is the blues - even on her first two albums, the fast rock stuff, it's still blues. We've talked about working together and we know we want to - that's the hardest part. She said we'll make time. We talked about working before, but no one ever had the time.
   "I don't really know her; she's really quiet, a really nice girl. It's the first two albums I liked, because there was just no compromise about them - it's not about selling jeans or anything. I don't compromise, either."
Tricky's former room-mate and mastermind behind seminal punked-out reggae Bristol scene pioneers The Pop Group and, more recently, Mark Stewart And The Maffia....
  "He's quite a mad geezer. I lived with him for a few months and I've known him for yeras, but in all that time he's never played me any of his music. He brought loads of disorder to the studio when I was recording 'Aftermath'. He brought all thesepeople with him; he just goes around clubs and picks up people on the way. In the end, we had a massive row in the studio.
   "The track is so tense because of him being around, he got on the mixing desk and put on reverb and echo and just fucked around with everything. We took it all off, but there's still a lot of his spirit on the record."

Tricky's late mother, whose name adorns his gold-selling debut album...
   "Why? Becuase she was a good woman. I suppose it is a tribute, yeah, nut I just thought it was a nice name. It's nice to think there's something going out into thousands of homes with my mum's name on it. It's kind of mad; I've got power to do this, so I'll do it. I could meet a girl tomorrow, fall in love and make an album with her name on it. I just love the power of doing things like that."

Broody Bristol trip-hop inoovators and Tricky's musical mentors, whose on/off feud with their former protege seems to be on the mend...
 "It's cool, you know? We're always planning to work together again, but I never get it together because I'm in my own little world at the moment. To tell you the truth, I think we've gone totally seperate ways. When we did 'Daydreaming', people said it was groundbreaking, and we've done a few groundbreaking tunes, but I don't see how we could push it any further.
   "It's almost too safe. I'm not saying that's bad, but I can't keep still for too long. Massive Attack's working process seems alien to me now. I don't want ot be in a vocal booth all day; I want to smoke a spliff and get it done."

More former associates, rumoured to have fallen out with Tricky after both used the same Isaac Hayes sample on their debut albums...
   "It's hard when people ask you about a band and you say they aren't your cup of tea, because people think you're slagging them off. I have to appreciate Poitishead because loads of people are into them, but I don't listen to them at home, and I don't see any Common ground between us. When I found out we'd used the same sample, I took the song ['Hell Is Round The Corner'] off the album. Then I listened to my version for a few weeks... I knew Beth [Gibbons] was going to be singing on the sample ['Sour Times"], and it was much harder for me, being a man who can't sing, to get the same vibe.
    "It was ten times harder for me, but I listened to my song and thought I was willing to put ot next to anything. Let people throw stones. The mad thing is, Geoff [Barrows] is always saying hwo muich he rates me, saying I'm the one of his main influences. But I'll tell you the truth. What I don't like is them being seen as my peers. I was doing it before them, but beause their album came out first, people say I'm following them. That's the only thing I'm bitter about, It's an arrogant thing to say, but no one comes before me and what I do."

Superslick, highly articulate New York rap duo best known in the UK for Coldcut's gimicky remix of their 1987 hit 'Paid In Full'...
   "That's quite sad, really, because he worte some of the best lyrics ever written. That's the simple reason I'm into Rakim; he's a genius. He was a new breed of rapper, he created a totally new era. He didn't really get the recognition he deserved over here. People who were mainly into rap listened to it, but anybody could get into it because he's a poet. He should have girls singing his Iyucs, he should have books out of his lyrics, he should be selling novels worldwide."
Tricky's current flatmate and spooky-voiced teenage chanteuse on Maxinquaye....
  "She's the best vocalist in England and she hasn't even matured yet. She doesn't even write lyrics at the moment. It's frightening - she's got this natural talent and I haven't heard anything like it before. What she's doing totally belongs to her, and that's the most importnat thing. She's got a very English voice, she went to public school and all that, a totally different background to me - which makes it even werider.
   "We're goint o be working together forever, hopefully, but if she wants a career away from Tricky, shw could do anything she wants. She's in the best position - she's young, talented, very smart, really laidback. I want her to be on the next album but she's really chilled out; she just keeps telling me to relax. She's so fucking cool.


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  photos: Retna

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