Tricky Meets The Press

Tricky doesn't want to be "involved in categories, supermarket stuff, the trip-hop section, the jungle section. . ." And who can blame him?

Leave it to the enigmatic Bristol

electronic renaissance rap-rocker Tricky to decide to tour Canada in January.

The day of his arrival in Toronto for a sold-out show at the Phoenix club

(Thurs., Jan. 16) just happened to the coldest one yet this winter, the kind of

day that almost lends some credence to the old jokes about Canadians living in

igloos. It was so cold, in fact, that Tricky stood up his own news conference,

and who could blame him? As a group of the Torontonian music media milled

aimlessly about in a barely heated upstairs room of downtown pub in

anticipation of the Tricky Kid's arrival, quaffing record company subsidised

suds to create some internal heat, the word came down--Tricky wasn't budging

from the relatively cosy confines of the club, where he'd just completed a

sound check.

Leaving behind two just-arrived pitchers of fresh draft in

order to bring the mountain to Mohammed was indeed heartbreaking, but Tricky

soon proved to worth the trouble at the hastily assembled News Conference II in

a side room of the Phoenix. I first spied him in a corridor leading to the

stage, comically holding a fuming spliff behind his back--inadvertently

creating a smoke ring halo around his head-- as he posed for yet another

picture. "I don't really want to be involved in any fashion or any

trend--trip-hop, hip-hop, pop, jungle--I don't want to get involved in

categories, supermarket stuff, the trip-hop section, the jungle section. . . ,"

he told the assembled throng in his Bristol patois as he finally began to hold

court, after first mumbling apologies and laying the blame on the

"soul-destroying" cold.

It soon became clear that despite his playful

demeanour--one without any hint of the pretension that so many "pop stars"

exude--Tricky was troubled by the controlling machinations of the music

business, which had caused his opening act, rising anti-gangsta rapper Jeru The

Damaja, to leave the tour two days earlier...

"He's not on the tour tonight," Tricky lamented, deflating

ATN's query regarding possible trouble between the two acts by mentioning that

he and Jeru have recorded a number of songs together. "It's easier for

us--we're the headlining gig. When you're supporting,--when we supported PJ

Harvey--it's hard. Jeru's an artist, he sells a lot of records in his

own right. It's hard--unless you support, like U2, youknowotImean? To

me, Jeru is like the first alternative rapper--he's different, like a

Bob Marley of rap. His lyrics are like dreams--I've got total admiration for

him, totally. But--this is politics, which unfortunately I've got no control

over at all. The reason the stuff we've recorded together hasn't come out yet

is because of politics: me and Jeru have no control over that. That's what's

shit, man, doyouknowotImean?"

As Tricky ranged over a variety of topics, he

began to weave a spell as much with the sound of his voice and the intonation

of his words as by their content. Relatively small of stature, he seemed

simultaneously child-like (but never child-ish) and ancient, like a

philosophical sage, belying the manic intensity he would bring to the evening's

performance only a few hours later. Although it's easy to get jaded quite

quickly when you're dealing with the music business and its various stars,

Tricky stripped all of that away in the space of a half-hour. He's a truly

singular human being who you can believe when he says: "I just wanna touch some


Other highlights of the press conference: *Tricky on making art

for large corporations: "I'm on Island, Island's on Polygram... It's corporate

companies: my money gets made to make money to make more money to make some

guns to make some bombs. Big corporate companies arm countries,

doyouknowwotImean? It means I'm part of the problem."

*On plans for his

own Durban Poison record label, to which Grace Jones, among others, is signed:

"To become a mass corporate company and start making guns and bombs! If someone

gives me a tape or I know someone who makes wicked music, I just want them to

make wicked music. I don't want nothing to do with it. If I trust their ability

to make music, I shouldn't involved, youknowwotImean? There's even gonna be a

time when they make something I don't like--I doubt I'll like all the

music we make, I doubt it very much, but then again it's got nothing to do with

that. We've got Jungle Songs coming out now, with English and American

hip-hop artists together, producing each other, rapping on each other's songs,

it sounds all kind of weird and strange because I produced three songs, someone

else produced three songs, someone else produced two songs, and we're all

rappin' everywhere. I think it's the first kind of English and American rap

album. It's a funny album--it's like The Great Rock and Roll Swindle of


*On his "Tricky" persona: "It's a media thing--media's not

really real is it?. I don't know who's created it though--what's created what.

I'm a bit confused."

*On former bandmates Massive Attack: "We see each

other in clubs and things. One day [we might work together again]. They're

probably doing this now-- we're both mad busy. We see each other on tour a lot,

but . . . I've gone somewhere else, they've gone somewhere else."

*On a

projected follow-up to the Nearly God side project: "I want to do that,

but it's like, I've got loads of bits and bobs, still got stuff with Neneh

Cherry, with Bjork, with Terry Hall, with [Tricky co-vocalist] Martina. But

it's just compiling it, getting the time to compile it. [There's one with ]

Suggs from Madness, a mad, mad reggae song. Nearly God is like a

half-finished album, none of the tracks have been worked on, they're just like

. . .pieces of mess put together with vocals on top of it. Now, the

artists involved didn't say to me, 'Look, we need to take this into the

studio.' One artist did--Damon Albarn [from Blur], and that's the track I

didn't use. [The rest] knew that it was just going to be naked and bare, with

all the mistakes left in, all the flaws. But all those people are open-minded


Except Damon Albarn?

"I'm not saying he's not open-minded.

He's striving for perfection, and I'm not really worried about that."


the (over)intellectualization of music : "I don't understand a lot of my

own music, doyouknowotImean? I listen to things like [Pre- Millennium

Tension's] "Sex Drive" and I think: 'What is that?' But I know there's an

energy there. That will do for me--it makes me feel something, and I don't have

to understand the feeling, or look for any meaning beyond this feeling."

*On the importance of drugs for his work: "I don't know. See, I've always

smoked, and I've never done a song without smoking, so if I did a song without

smoking, it might be the end of my career! But then again, it might mean

nothing at all. I'm not really into any hard drugs--weed is like, quite


*On a return bout with Goldie [the jungle innovator who

Tricky scrapped with last year over a Bjork-related matter in a New York club]:

"Nahhh. I'm a lover, not a fighter."

*On PJ Harvey: "We're gonna do some

songs together. We've kind of promised that for ages. I just love what she

does--I'm a big, big BIG fan. I love the fact that she won't compromise at all.

I just think she's Wonder Woman, basically."

*On America: "It's mad. I

watch the TV and think, 'Fuck!, what's goin' on, man?' I find it quite scary, I

find it fascinating. I find it gives me loads of energy. It's easy for me in

that I've given up trying to understand what this is all about, and New York's

perfect place to just get on with it. I don't wanna know what's going on--all I

know is, it's going on. Yeah. It's just happening, and I don't know why,

and I don't care why. Just get on with it."

*Finally, current listening?:

"The Tool album--that's just fuckin' . . . to me, that's what I'm into. That

kid, I can feel his pain. It's real. If you're trying to sound

like Billie Holiday or Kurt Cobain, and you don't mean it, I can hear it! That

guy touches my soul--that's all I wanna do, doyouknowotImean? That's

all I wanna be--I don't wanna be King of trip-hop, hip-hop, anything--I

just wanna touch some souls. If I can do that like that guy from Tool, Bob

Marley, Kurt Cobain, Billie Holiday . . . that boy touches my soul! That's what

I'm into--that's what listen to. Anything--it could be any music at all. I need

my soul to be touched by it."