Posted in interviews | music | tour dates on September 4, 2008

by BrooklynVegan Mike

A friend of mine played me some stuff and said "you're the father of dubstep."


Tricky (who kicks off a US tour at Irving Plaza in NYC Thurday night) is never at a loss for words or a strong opinion. His career has been defined as much by his viewpoints on artists and music past and present as it has his ever shifting sound pallette. He has been called "the king of trip-hop," a moniker that he never liked and never quite fit. Though his debut Maxinquaye helped forge and popularize, along with Portishead and Massive Attack, the "Bristol" sound, every album since has steadily moved away from simple categorization.

"It's coincidence. To be honest with you, Portishead and Massive Attack, I don't know anything about their music; last time I heard Massive Attack's music was when I was in it, and I've never listened to Portishead. Even if I hadn't been in Massive Attack, that's not something I would listen to, it's not my thing. I don't know much about these bands." [said Tricky recently to The Skinny]
The forty year old, who was worked with everyone, from Bjork and The Gravediggaz, to Tool and Live, is back with his first album in five years, Knowle West Boy, and many are calling it a return. When we spoke, he was in a relaxed mood. He speaks with a hyper active patter that is engaging and contagious.

TrickyWe began our conversation by discussing his absence away from music. Despite being quite consistent with his releases (putting out eight albums in eight years), this is his first record since 2003's Back To Mine. When asked about the long break, he suggested that he started to break away mentally before 2003. "September 11th took me off my stride," he said. "I was in the cycle of tour, record, tour, record. I was in L.A doing some work. I was to leave on a European tour on the 11th and everything happened. I didn't want to travel for a long time. I moved to L.A. And that took a year of my life. I was also looking for another label, and that took another year of my life as well. So really, the 11th of September just changed everything for me."

He has since moved back to England, a decision that has certainly influenced the new record. But when asked why at this stage in his career he would make a concept album about his youth (as was written here, and here), he replied "That's not really true. It's not just about my youth. There are a couple of songs [including the first single, 'Council Estate'] that are about my childhood but there are other songs on there. I think people are thinking that because of those songs as well as the title. Knowle West is a place where nothing good is supposed to come out of. I named the album Knowle West Boy to say, "look at me. I'm still here." He also scoffed at the notion that the record, which has received some of his best reviews since Angels With Dirty Faces, was a return to form. "That's basically because it's more accessible then say Pre-Millenium Tension. I could have put this kind of record out then but chose not to."

This got us talking about the Tricky "sound" and if, in fact, there was one....

Beyond the conscious decisions you've made on each record, have you ever thought about how much your music has evolved in the past fifteen years?

TrickyTricky: "Right around the time of Pre-Millenium Tension a friend of mine told me that none of my albums are linked together in any way. That they could each have been done by someone else. I never realized that. It's kind of weird. I don't know why that is. I'm still trying to search to find that sound that is me. I like that it keeps changing but when I make a record I am only making what I want to do at that time. I don't choose to change. It just does."

Do you believe there is a Tricky sound?

Tricky: "I don't. I believe there is a Tricky feel. A Tricky vibe. Even though each album sounds different you know it's a Tricky record, I think."

Tricky - Council Estate

Tricky had been in the UK news again this past summer for other reasons, engaging in a war of words with 90s Britpop star and Suede guitarist Bernard Butler. When asked about what went down, he didn't hesitate to continue firing missives. "He's a prick," he said. "A horrible little man." In Tricky's words, "I wanted to try working with a co-producer. It was something I never did before and I wanted to see how that would turn out. We had an agreement beforehand that he would be a co-producer. It didn't work out at all so I went home and redid everything and got him off the music but he still insisted on getting the credit. Laurence from Domino [Tricky's record label] spoke with his manager and even he admitted that he didn't hear any of his stuff on there. But he insisted on the credit. He was willing to take me to court over it."

SwitchAfter that fiasco, Tricky finished the record himself then brought in Switch to mix the record. "His thing ain't my vibe," he said of the producer du jour, "but he does get a good sound. His music is just breakbeats with some noise over it." When I asked how the process went, he said "I didn't see him that much. I would go downstairs from time to time and say 'that sounds good' or that it didn't."

From Switch, our conversation turned to Switch collaborator M.I.A. As an artist whose music fuses elements of classic hip-hop, punk, reggae, and electronica like Tricky, I was curious what he thought of the Londoner by way of Sri Lanka. "A few years back, someone gave me her demo," he said. "I was asked if I wanted to do some work with her and I said no. It didn't interest me. The vibe I got was it was trying to be experimental. You can't try to be experimental. You just are. It comes from a place of no known knowledge, doing what you think works. All her music really is is dance music, nothing more. It's not her fault, really, it's more with how she is being marketed."

The emergence of dubstep and grime from the UK underground onto the world stage was a subject I thought he would have a lot to say about it. And though his answers surprised me, he certainly had a strong opinion on it. When asked about dubstep, he replied "It's funny. About four months ago, I was introduced to dubstep. A friend of mine played me some stuff and said "you're the father of dubstep." Then he played me some stuff from this guy who no one knows what he looks like. A shadowy figure."


Tricky: "Yeah. I really liked it. I could see the connection between his work and mine but he's doing something completely different. He's taking from the same places but doing it in his own way. If I had anything to do with the creation of dubstep, then I'm proud. It's a hell of a lot better name then trip-hop, I can tell you that."


What about grime?

Tricky: "What I heard, I thought was okay. But at the moment, they don't know how to make a great album. It's like the same thing with Drum N' Bass. At the end of the day, it all comes down to great songwriting. It's that simple. The sound is too limited right now to put out a complete vision on a whole record. It needs to grow some more."

We wrapped our discussion with the topic of songwriting when I asked him if he ever saw an acoustic album in in his future.

"Definitely," he said enthusiastically. "I have to in a way. It's funny you ask that because it's a question I ask myself all the time. I think there is definitely one in me and it something I will do, but I just don't know when."

It would be interesting to hear what Tricky would do with an acoustic record. It would most certainly not sound like the accepted notion of what 'acoustic' entails. That would be too obvious. Everything about Tricky, from his music to his personality, defies easy classification.

Tricky - Tricky Kid

Tricky is set to release his new studio album Knowle West Boy (Domino) on September 9th. He kicks off a rare (aka not cancelled) U.S. tour in NYC tonight....

Tricky - 2008 Tour Dates
Sep 4 - The Filmore At Irving Plaza New York, New York *
Sep 5 - The Trocadero Philadelphia *
Sep 6 - 9:30 Club Washington *
Sep 8 - House Of Blues Chicago, Illinois *
Sep 9 - Phoenix Toronto, Ontario
Sep 11 - House Of Blues Anaheim, California
Sep 12 - Henry Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, California
Sep 14 - The Independent San Francisco, California

* w/ Telepathique



Comments (36)

The "Bristol" sound >>>>> Harvey's Bristol Cream >>>>> naming your daughter Bristol

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:36 PM

tricky is the worst. go back to russia

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:48 PM


Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:57 PM

Great interview.

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 12:59 PM

Love what he said about MIA, it's so true.

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:18 PM

i am pumped for this tonight!

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:35 PM

Hell yeah! Tonight will be fun... the openning band Telepathique ain't bad either.

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 1:43 PM

I am seriously considering this. I love Maxinquaye and PMT, but don't really know his other stuff. Anyone know what his live shows (when he does them) are like?

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:00 PM

curious to see what the set list looks like.

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:00 PM


Tricky is still cool, but dude needs to get it back together.

he talks about M.I.A. 'trying' to be experimental. Shit, at least she's TRYING to do something. I suffered through that horrible new Tricky song on Letterman last night and wake up to him talking smack about a relevant artist doing something good? Whew. At least we'll always have "Maxinquaye." The rest of it is (to paraphrase his estimation of Switch) "just some stoned, slurred beats with noise on top."

At least Martina had the good sense to work with Danger Mouse (speaking of good songwriting...)

Posted by Jordan Catalano | September 4, 2008 2:04 PM

@ 2:00

i've heard good things about his live show but have yet to catch the elusive tricky yet. i'd heard in the past he always performed with his back to the crowd because of nervousness or something like that.

out of all of his albums, maninquaye and pmt get the most play out of me. vulnerable and blowback have some great hits on them though.

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:06 PM

Thanks. Just to hear "Christiansands" bump on a loud system would probably be worth it for me...

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:15 PM

yea i'm really hoping for some good ones from maxinquaye and pre-millenium tension tonight

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:34 PM

i have seen tricky 10 or so times solo and he does not disappoint...but i have to agree with jordan his last 100% GREAT album was angels...

i like the interview.

i was hesitant on going tonight. i don't want my memories of his shows tainted. so i am going to batman imax instead...unless someone has a free ticket for me :)

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 2:55 PM

that was harsh...i do want to go, and some of his new album is ok...just...he needs to start experimenting...

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 3:00 PM

irving plaza site says show is at 9pm. does that mean the opening band goes on at 9pm? or tricky will start around 9?


Posted by anon | September 4, 2008 3:08 PM

$30 isn't exactly cheap for a show you're on the fence about

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 3:10 PM

i think doors are 8pm and then opener is at 9pm. tricky on around 10pm?

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 3:11 PM

$30 for a pair of tixs is all good though. God bless craigslist.

Posted by Bob Roberts | September 4, 2008 4:14 PM

Met two girls in a restaurant
Didn’t know the hookers was lesbians
’til I got home and started sexin’ ’em
The shit they were doing was excellent
Yeah, yeah, the show was perfect
The one with her tits in the other girl’s bit
Slim girl was holdin’ her hips
Strokin’ her tongue all over her clit
This girl was gettin pornographic
Should’ve had a vid recordin that shit
One girl’s tits now taking a big mount
Going down south licking the bitch out
’round ’em and stylin’ my dick was shinin’
Next minute the babe is grindin’
Went outside and left ’em windin’
When I came back they was 69in’
All of ’em was crying- she’d screamed
’lick the whipped cream from off of her tits’
See me laying for the queen all this fisting
Reminds me of a dream I had at fifteen
Last time I seen ’em was at the club
It was me two girls and the scrappy love
Back then wanted to be nice enough
But now there’s enough for the both of us

Posted by Anonymous | September 4, 2008 6:08 PM

horrible show.

tricky's a mess, the female vocalist couldn't find the right note with a map, and by god...i wish i had my money back.

Posted by anon | September 4, 2008 11:43 PM

you are out of your mind. that show was incredible!

Posted by Anonymous | September 5, 2008 12:33 AM

Amazing show! Telepathique was good too.

Posted by lr | September 5, 2008 8:52 AM

anyone else go to this show?

Posted by Anonymous | September 5, 2008 8:55 AM

did he play a lot from maxinquaye & p-mt?

Posted by Anonymous | September 5, 2008 9:10 AM

Maxinquaye is a classic and at one time I considered Tricky a borderline genius but like Nas he has smoked himself stupid and is so full of shit now. He never listened to Portishead or Massive Attack since he worked with them? Even if he didn't like what they were doing he had to have been curious about people he was always getting grouped with. He acts like he is the most original artist alive in that interview when he made a rep doing covers and his last 2 albums are laughably bad. I'd still like to hear some good shit from him but I think those days are past.

I did see him at Irving Plaza way back in 2001 and he was pretty good but would have been much better if MTB was with him.

Posted by BTW | September 5, 2008 9:20 AM

anyone have setlist from tricky show last night?

Posted by anon | September 5, 2008 9:24 AM

Bernard Butler was Suede's guitar player. Brett Anderson was the frontman. Just saying.

Posted by david | September 5, 2008 9:35 AM

"horrible show."

I don't agree.

"the female vocalist couldn't find the right note with a map"

true she wasn't the most amazing singer, but she wasn't bad either. That said....

"I did see him at Irving Plaza way back in 2001 and he was pretty good but would have been much better if MTB was with him. "

...MTB would have been a lot better last night too.

"did he play a lot from maxinquaye & p-mt?"

It was a good mix of old and new, but I am horrible with song names and exact albums...

"anyone have setlist from tricky show last night?"

...I second that request.

"Bernard Butler was Suede's guitar player. Brett Anderson was the frontman. Just saying."

fixed, thanks!

Posted by brooklynvegan | September 5, 2008 9:47 AM

The Love Cats / Past Mistakes / Black Steel / Puppy Toy / Pumpkin / Council Estate / Veronika / Lyrics of Fury / Bacative / Dear God / Girls / Overcome / You Don't Wanna // Vent / Joseph


Posted by brooklynvegan | September 5, 2008 9:53 AM

A review from the blog link above:

Gah, what a weird, unsatisfying show. It was not without its pleasures -- I was pretty happy with the performances of "Council Estate," "Puppy Toy," and "Veronika," and it was nice enough to hear the selections from the first two albums -- but for the most part, the concert dragged, and Tricky primarily played up his worst impulses. Most egregiously, a third of the songs were extended into interminable dirges that followed the same trajectory: main song body....lull....intense part....lull....intense part.....lull....intense part...lull...intense part...lull...outro. That actually may be cutting it short for "Joseph," a number that overstays its welcome at about 3 minutes on Knowle West Boy, but kept going for what seemed like twenty eternities in the encore. I knew coming into this show that Tricky loves his shouty yet atmospheric dirges, and I've seen him perform similar things the last time I saw him in concert about ten years ago, but much of this show sank into dismal self-parody.

Strangely, almost all of the older numbers in the setlist were covers, or songs that either interpolate or quote well-known tracks by other artists. This seems like a deliberate move on his part; perhaps it is a way of playing familiar album cuts without having to confront much of his own writing, nearly all of which comes across as extremely personal, and the best of it is tied in with his former partner Martina Topley-Bird. The only number in the set that relied on the old Martina/Tricky tension was "Vent," and though I was glad to hear it, the performance simply did not have any of the sexual and emotional terror that makes the album recording so incredibly compelling.

Posted by Anonymous | September 5, 2008 10:03 AM

yeah this interview plunged me into a meandering tricky-related thought-fest if anyone wants to hear it and check out tracks ...

Posted by [dave] | September 6, 2008 12:32 PM

suede rules

Posted by Anonymous | September 6, 2008 6:56 PM

Big Shot has a very mixed review of the show:

Posted by Anonymous | September 7, 2008 10:16 AM

did anyone notice what a WEIRD crowd it was thurs nite at irving for the tricky show?? seemed like a lot of suits aka a bunch of people paid to be there by the label.

and YES MTB would have leagues better than the vocalist who butchered all the notes.

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