Interview – Tricky’s « Represent your town »


Bristol-based trip-hop pioneer and former member of the band Massive Attack, Tricky talks about Berlin, Jamaican food in Bristol and Paris winters.

Where do you live? Berlin.

Since when? Two years now.

Your first striking memory in this city? It’s a big major city but very relax, very slow peace. Everything isn’t built up you know so it’s like shops everywhere and kind of space between things. Generally, it’s very dark cause there’s no lights from stores and you’re not seeing ads everywhere. When I first went to Berlin I didn’t like it because some areas seem kind of very deserted, isolated, like almost industrial. So, first I stayed in an hotel, a nice one, but it was in a part of city that looked very industrial. Not much there. Then, after many times there, I started to know the city : very lot of space, lot of trees everywhere. It’s like a park. A city inside of a park. Very green.

Do you think this city has changed? Apparently. When I talked to people who have been there for 20 years, they say it’s changed a lot yeah. But I wouldn’t know cause I wasn’t there.  

Where do you go when you want to be alone in the city? Well I’m by myself anyway, so I could be alone anywhere.

The city where you were born? I was born in Bristol, a city in West England.

What do you miss about Bristol? The food. My dad is Jamaican and there’s a big Jamaican culture there and so, a lot of Jamaican food. I miss going to get Jamaican food. Like say in Bristol there’s so many places where you can get Jamaican food. It’s easy. You don’t have to go far and all. In Berlin it’s far and not easy. Bristol is a beautiful city. Not the area where I grew up but the nice areas. It was a slave port so it’s strange cause you can still see slavery on street names and stuff. Like “White Ladies Road” or “Black Boy Hill”. There’s also a concert place there called Colston Hall. And that was the name of a guy who built slave ships. So it’s still got that slave thing. It’s quite interesting to see that. You can still feel it a little bit.

A slang expression from your city? I grew up in the white ghetto but my dad is Jamaican. So you have the Jamaican slang or you’ve got the white slang. It’s like the white slang you say : “where is my friend”, I can say : “where is my mucker?”. When you muck in it’s like, let’s say, i’m digging a ditch, my friend helps me. You say : “you are mucking with me.” So that’s my mucker. That’s the white gal ghetto thing. And then the Jamaican would say : “wasgoanin’”, it’s like “what’s happening” except it’s “what’s going on”, and the slang cuts it off.

A city where you would like to live? I’d love to live for a year in an Asian country. A city like Beijing. Not Hong Kong, it’s too busy.

City sounds that influenced your productions? England had a big Jamaican importation, especially in Bristol. All the Jamaicans moved there in the 60’s for work. So one of the biggest influences for music is reggae music. But then Bristol is quite a quiet city. For instance if I’m in London and I go to Bristol, I notice how quiet it is. Not all parts but most of them.

What would be your ideal city? I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect city. I can’t think like that, my brain don’t think like that.

Your nightmare city? It would be somewhere in like an Austrian city. Austria is a good place but there is one city there that is just awful: the people are super racist, like hardcore racists. But I can’t remember the name of it.

What makes you feel calm when you are in a city? I’m quite calm anyway. So I can be in a city like Hong Kong where there are millions and millions people. I couldn’t live there constantly but I still feel calm. Hong Kong is crazy, everything is built up, it’s like a movie. But I feel totally relaxed.

What upsets you in a city? Rude people. When people are rude. Or when people got big mouths.

Nighttime or daytime city? I like both but I like summer. So I like warm weather. So in the summer i like night and day time. Cause I walk in the night, I walk by day. In winter, I would say daytime cause going out at night is just like sometimes miserable in the cold.

A place where you would like to shoot a music video? Hong-Kong cause it’s a just an insane looking place. Or Japan, Tokyo. Tokyo is just crazy. So either one of them would be interesting cause all you’ve got to do is shoot the city and it looks good. So one of those places.

A habit that you have when you are in Bristol or in Berlin? Walkin’. I walk everyday.

When you are abroad? Same thing : walkin’. Soon as I get somewhere, I start walkin’ around and lookin’.  

The kind of people you like to observe when you are at a coffee terrasse? All kinds of people. Not anybody in particular but I can watch people for hours which is basically like watchin’ the city.

A city to retire? I haven’t been there yet but when I think of stuff like that I think of Vietnam. But I don’t know if it’s good but I have a thing in my mind. It seems really beautiful.

A city where to walk by night? I’d say Tokyo.

A music about the city? I can’t think of anything.

A movie? Well Blade Runner, that was influenced by Tokyo. Not the new one, the old one though.

The city where you would dream of playin’ a concert? You know, I played all over the world but I’d love to do one in Palestine though.

If you could improve something in your city, what would it be? It’s the same in every city : you’ve got the poor, and you’ve got the rich. I grew up in a ghetto so I would change the balance of money. Put better education, get people more opportunities. The poor always has to suffer. Like in Paris : the poor are in the ghettos, they’ve got no job opportunities. Schools are not great. So I would change that.

If could replace a monument of your choice : what would it be and by what? I don’t know, I never go to see monuments. I’m not interested in that stuff at all. I prefer walkin’, going’ to see the Louvre for instance wouldn’t interest me at all but I’d rather walk on my own rue de la Chapelle and have a coffee. I used to go to a place near Place de la Chapelle, sit, and just watch people. A good mixture : African, Arabic, etc. That is more interesting than the Louvre or any monument.

Fiona Forte