After five years without a release maverick singer and producer Tricky is back with “Knowle West Boy”, a tribute to the tough, deprived, working class area of Bristol where he grew up.
It’s a place where he found a strong sense of community, where many families have lived for generations.
“It was a great area as a kid, you could ride around on your bike, stay out with your friends all night, we used to stay out in winter until 11 o’clock at night from 8 years of age, ‘cause we didn’t go to school much… well I didn’t… and you were safe… all my friends’ grandmothers knew my grandmother, everybody knew each other’s family. My grandmother used to sing, my grandad would play the washboard with thimbals and whistle, and she’d sing prison songs. So I grew up listening to prison songs and prison stories. So, if there’s any question about why my music is dark, it’s pretty obvious!”, he reminisces.
“Knowle West Boy” is a triumph for the Wild Bunch/ Massive Attack veteran, and his most personal album to date.
Orphaned in his early years and brought up by his white grandma, in the Tricky family mix are English, Jamaican, Spanish, Amerindian and other roots; a sample of a port city, a childhood soundtrack, and a snapshot of today’s Britain.
“The new album Knowle West Boy…some of the experiences is like… “Council estate” is like not my experiences but others people’s back then, and now. I wanted to relate to the kids even if you don’t even come from Knowle West. Basically it’s a council estate album lyrically, but it’s like a mix tape….
When I was growing up, you’d make a tape, you’d make a tape for friends, and this album is like a mix tape, what I put on my favorites tracks I’d want to listen to if I put them on my iPod or something… It’s like a mixed CD,” he continues.
For Tricky, “Knowle West Boy” is the album that sums up everything he has accomplished since his 1995 “Maxinquaye” debut, riding the Bristol wave that included Portishead and fed off 80’s glories like Rip Rig and Panic. Tricky pushed that envelope, taking trip hop wherever he fancied, including darker, stripped-down places; absorbing influences like a sponge.
“When I listen to music, I always want to be that artist, like it’s not just listening to music, it’s like “wow! I wish I wrote the song”. And one day I realised, well you know I can be Kate bush, I can be the Specials, Gary Numan, I can be whoever I want. So one song is like, on “Council Estate” I’m the Specials, on “Puppy Toy” I’m Howlin’ Wolf and so on.
So it’s like realising I can be all these people because I’m a bit of a wannabe, to be honest with you, I’ve always been a bit of a wannabe,
I want to be the Specials, a rapper, I wanna be, and you probably hear it in my music, I’m a total wannabe.” That’s always been what’s tricky about Tricky. he threw so much in that he was sometimes lost in the mix, along with us.
But after two albums of mostly failed attempts to crack the mainstream, this time Tricky seems to have meshed pop and avant-garde in one shiny package.
“I’ve always considered myself a blues artist – not in the sound of the music, but because it’s struggling music,” he says.
With music like this, the struggle may be over.
Knowle West Boy is out everywhere. See details attached for Tour dates.