Profile of a Young Mesmer 
by Simon Rust Lamb
One or two artists each decade step forward as leaders; the very best of these break boundaries between several different art mediums. They produce not only an incredible quality of music but also change the entire environment of music. In most cases, the 'mesmer' reaches a point when they can make all of their visions and dreams into reality. Their only constriction is time. David Bowie exemplifies this phenomenon. In a story about himself and Tricky, Bowie refers to himself as the first 'mesmer', short for mesmer izer. In reality, Tricky wears the aura of a young 'mesmer' and has set about smashing the ozone layer of today's musical environment.

PURPOSE: 1) To find out about the individual known as Tricky. 2) Discover what goes on in his head. 3) Explore his ideas and thoughts. 4) Figure out who Tricky wants to be.

PROCEDURE: Break down the barriers between the subject and the interviewer. Discuss the previ ous night's party (where subject was the honored guest) and make small talk.
         Through direct questioning, discuss history and perfection. Present Tricky with a variation on a standard college admission essay question, is there anyone who is now dead who you would like to work with? Why?
         Present a series of objects to Tricky and observe reactions. If necessary, explain why the object was selected to help lead the discussion forwards. The objects will consist of: a British flag, a tattered copy of Anthony Burgess' "A Clockwork Orange", a Swiss Army knife and a monster.

Question: Did you make Massive Attack or did Massive Attack make you?
Response: "I think Massive Attack made me... angry. So it took me to where I am now. Not Massive Attack theirself, as people, they didn't make me angry. The situation made me angry. The record company bullshit, the whole fucking compromise of it. So, going through the Massive Attack period made me angry enough to leave and want to fuck everything up. I need the attitude of wanting to fuck everything up otherwise I just give in. I 

can't be in it just for the music, just for the lyrics. I want to fuck people's heads up; I don't want to compromise. I want to fuck the industry up. I want to, fuck, do what I totally want. Release records when I fuckin' want to release them, shit like that."

Question: Is there anyone you would resurrect for a collaboration?
Response: Kurt Cobain and Bob Marley. Because they're masters. No one else could write songs like Bob Marley. Kurt Cobain couldn't write songs like Bob Marley but that's probably because he wasn't around as long. They were not of this earth, well not now... They were so far ahead of anybody else. That's what I kind of respect. My ambition is to be as strong a song writer as Kurt Cobain and Bob Marley. If I have to learn acoustic guitar to do that, or electric guitar, I'll do that. To write: something, to be as talented as those people, that's my ambi tion."

Do you think you're as talented?
"No, no, no - that's why it's an ambition. No, not even close to it. Ten years of hard work, ten years of hard work, not doing anything stu pid. Forget all the drugs. I know I don't have to make snack to make deep music, that problem is over. Don't compromise my music and learn. I need to keep learning, asin, I'm going to pick up a guitar, I will pick up drums. I need to go as far as I'm going to learn to play stuff. I have to keep writing' lyrics."
         "I'm going to have to come to the point, which I'm not looking forward to, sitting down and concentrating. I do it all off the top of my head; I think I will have to sit down. "Makes Me Want to Die" is one of my first melodies. I help Martina with the melodies, vaguely, sometimes. Sometimes I don't even have to. "Makes Me Want to Die" - I totally wrote the melody. I think I could get there because the melody does break my heart. Half of it is Martina's voice, because she has a gorgeous voice, half of it is the melody. I know I can get there. Hopefully I can get there otherwise, there's no point. I want to be the Prince's the Bob Marleys, the Kate Bushes, the Slick Ricks, the Gary Numans. You know what I mean, I want to be them."

Object #1: British Flag.
Response: "That means nothing to me at all. Except, for, the only thing is when I'm in a foreign country, I remember I'm English. The flag is, I find it quite gross actually. Quite fucking disgusting."

Object #2: A Clockwork Orange.
Response: "I've never read it. I don't read books. I've read two books in my life; one is the Cray Twins and one's Monster Cody. Oh, and Bob Marley. That's three books I've read from beginning to end. Most books don't keep my interest."
          "The Cray Twins is a true story about English gangsters. These two brothers, twins, mad life, they were twins. They were boxers first of all. One could have been a champion boxer but the other one wasn't as good, so he made the other one give up boxing to be a gang ster with him. They run London. It's kind of weird."
           "I try and read books. People give me books, 'Perfume', someone gave me 'Perfume' and said this is unbelievable. I read two pages and think, fuck that. I've got to be really interested in something first."

Object #3: Swiss Army Knife.
Response: "I've just got given one of these, I just been to Switzerland. We did this gig and everybody got one of these. Mad isn't it. I used to carry one years ago when I was a kid, because it was like what we all did."
"I don't really like knives. They scare me. I think I'd rather be shot than stabbed. You know what I mean, fuckin'."
         After I tell a story about getting assaulted in a London club toilet, Tricky continues on about London. "I go back there and people are aggressive. I was at the pub, like this bar, eating food, we had an argument with this girl, the manager. She called, like seven geezers come round, like fronting. And started getting heavy with us. I'd been there for awhile and didn't understand the situation. You're saying you're going to beat us up for what? What are you talking about? One of them goes, fuck, I'll take you out and shoot you. I'm like, kid, what the fuck are you? I've had a real gun in my face - and this guy's talkin'. He doesn't know the fuck who I am. I could be Al Capone's nephew. He didn't know who the fuck I am. The tension level there is quite insane. It's moody. Even in New York, I go to some dodgy clubs. You can go out and get drunk and as long as you're not rude to anybody, you're all right. It ain't like that in London anymore." 

Object #4: The Monster.
Response: "That reminds me of something. I think I must have had one of these or something like this. It reminds me of something."
         What about your own monsters? "My monsters are a bit different than that. My 

monsters are prison, getting a drug addiction like cocaine, smack. Fucking people who ain't real. My monsters are kind of different."
          Does success push them any further away? Nah. Nah. They'll just keep chasing you down. You just got to keep on moving. Keepmoving. I just got to keep on running."
         Is there a point where you could stop running? "I'm hoping, as I get older, yeah."
         Is there anything you're running towards? "I just get sufocated. Do you know what I mean, it's like, I get to know a city too well. You get to know people too well, you know, you start making friends you don't need. All of a sudden, you re in a situation of fucking, you have to compromise because of where you live, who you allied with. I don't feel like a free person very often. So, that's what makes me want to run away."
          "New York, I know like five people in New York. That's cool. I can't go and get into a club, I couldn't just go to a club and get in for free. That's cool. No one knows me. I choose who I hang out with. I feel free."
          "In New York I don't know the bad, I only know what I want to know. In Bristol, I know who the bad people are, that makes me feel uncomfortable. In New York, I got to a club, I could be surrounded by loads of bad people but I don't know it. So, you're at ease."
           The British press seem to make you into something of a monster... "Sometimes I think it's because I'm black, I'm successful. They consider me not R&B and not rap, but successful. I don't think they can explain. The easiest way to explain me is this moody, dark. It's like Bob Marley, songs of suffering and strugglin'. That's what my songs are; my songs are slave songs. They can't understand that. So they take pain and suffering as demonic and devil. That's my theory. Then again, my theory changes..."
          Is the prospect of death a monster? "I want to believe there's something and then some times it's hard to believe. I think half my problem is I don't know. That's why my music is confused, that's why my music is tense. I just don't know where I am going to. That's part of my pain as well."
           "I don't know what's going to happen after this. I do want to live. I want to see my daughter with her first boyfriend. I want to see her as a woman and sit down and talk to her. Then she has to die as well, and her children have to die. There's a lot of pain. That's a fucking lot of pain. There must be something after that, there's no way you could go through all this pain of losing people all the time."
            "When I lost my uncle, it was like my dad, I didn't feel any pain. And people, I've lost in my family, who didn't feel any that because I've number myself or is that because I know they're going off somewhere else, going to a better place. And they're probably better of f than us because we live in all the shit."

The fighting side of Tricky lashes out at the industry and anyone else who tries to control him, including himself. Boundaries are made to be smashed. When he ~oes to bed at night, Tricky listens to artists like Kate Bush, Bob Marley, Peter Gabriel or Kurt Cobain. His favorite song for the last year has been Danzig's "I Can't Speak". The possibilities of what Tricky will make in the future cannot be relegated to trip-hop or hip hop. If anyone ever manages to hole him into a description, Tricky will emerge with a different musical skin. His music swiftly avoids the stinging jabs of genref ication. His attempts at fucking things up in the musical world end up as successes.

Avoiding the bad influences, the monsters, allows Tricky to develop within a world of free dom. The vices offered by the dealers and gang sters stifle his ability to create music that everyone cam understand. His response to dodge these negative influences 

is to move from city to city. He hopes that at some point he will be able to slow down, rest and concentrate on his music. At that point, he believes he maybe able to make some music that is not of this earth.
Tricky, is currently in a position where he cam do whatever he wants. He has written two scripts with a friend that will probably get made into films. David Bowie is interested in collaborating with him in the future. When there is am artist that he wants to work with, he can sign them to his label. Grace Jones will be coming out on that label, Durban Poison. The highest priority for Tricky is to remain honest. By maintaining that, it seems like he cannot go wrong. He does not have any intention of let ting his standards drop when he crosses into mew creative outlets.

Tricky has begun destroying the obstacles that restrain him. This path of obliteration will place him amongst the mesmers of the 1990s.

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   photos: Mike Fix

 The objects: