Tricky. Credit: Press

Tricky has spoken to NME about the new reissue of his debut album ‘Maxinquaye’, as well as sharing his memories of The SpecialsTerry Hall, and shooting down rumours of an alleged fight with Portishead.

The Bristol-born artist (real name Adrian Thaws) is known for co-founding Massive Attack, who spear-headed the ‘trip-hop’ scene along with Portishead and Tricky himself. He released his debut solo album ‘Maxinquaye’ in 1995, which featured Tricky on production and singing with his then-partner, Martina Topley Bird. NME declared ‘Maxinquaye’ as Album of the Year over Oasis’ ‘What’s The Story (Morning Glory)’ and Radiohead’s ‘The Bends’. It was also nominated for the Mercury Prize, but lost out to Portishead’s ‘Dummy.

Reflecting on the legacy of ‘Maxinquaye’, Tricky said: “I do appreciate it, but I can also see the damage done to my mind as well.”

The musician reportedly struggled with the fame that came with ‘Maxinquaye’; with Thaws moving to New York to protect his anonymity. After living in LA, Paris, and Berlin, he is now residing in Toulouse.

The reissue, which Tricky called a “reincarnation”, features five tracks rewritten entirely by Tricky (‘Aftermath’, ‘Strugglin’, ‘Pumpkin’, ‘Hell Is Round The Corner’ and ‘Ponderosa’). ‘Maxinquaye (Reincarnated)’ also features eight previously unreleased remixes, including one by Leftfield.

Tricky said he wanted to rewrite the songs, as he believed the original sounded “dated”, and was inspired to update the album with his musical evolution and current feelings on certain tracks.

“I wanted to take them somewhere else,” he explained. “I’ve had so much love over the years that I have to put some effort into it, the people deserve that. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve had all these years.”

The album is named after Tricky’s mother, Maxine Quaye. She suffered from epilepsy and was placed in a psych ward when Tricky was just 12 months old; her grandmother took Tricky into her care.

Shortly after Tricky decided to call the reissue a reincarnation, he reportedly received a call from a cousin in Tipperary, saying he knew of a box containing the only known photograph of him and his mother together. That box was found with their great-grandmother, who lived with family in Colorado. That photo is now the cover of ‘Maxinquaye (Reincarnated)’. “The timing was just ridiculous,” said Thaws. “It was meant to be.”

The box also contained a letter written by Quaye in the psych ward, which Tricky had never seen before.

“It’s very depressing,” he said. “My mum was saying: ‘Thank you for looking after Adrian, Gran. I know it must be difficult for you because he’s young’. I’ve never heard what my mum was going through, so that really fucked me up.”

Maxine Quaye killed herself when Tricky was just four. His album is a significant reflection on the impact of her loss.

He also spoke about the recent death of his daughter, Mazy of 404, which the reissue addresses. Tricky and Topley-Bird had Mazy (also Mina), who was born a month after the release of ‘Maxinquaye’. In 2019, she took her own life in a psychiatric hospital.

“Since Mazy died, my mind is fucked and I’ve had to stop smoking weed for a bit, I started getting paranoid,” he said. “I was speaking to Martina; she said, ‘When ‘Maxinquaye’ came out, that’s when you started getting paranoid’.”

The updated lyrics on ‘Aftermath’ reference the months after Mazy died: “I see it through the town/There was a friend of mine/Feel it all the time/I might lose my mind.”

Tricky also recently lost his childhood hero, Terry Hall of The Specials (they previously collaborated on 1996 album ‘Nearly God’). “Terry dying, I felt like I had a part of my youth torn away from me,” said Tricky. A month before his death, Hall had emailed Tricky a picture of the pair from 1995, New Year’s Day.

Terry Hall and Tricky (Photo by Des Willie/Redferns)
Terry Hall and Tricky (Photo by Des Willie/Redferns)

The Specials, he recalled, were “the first band I heard who were like me.”

“They gave me hope,” he continued. “If these guys can do it, I can. The Specials were talking about council flats, going out on a Saturday night, doing the same stuff me and my mates were doing, singing about society. Without The Specials, I wouldn’t be doing music.”

Tricky, who does not normally attend funerals (“I’m not brave enough to deal with them”), attended Hall’s last year: “I felt I had to go, I don’t know what it was.”

“I cried at a baby at his funeral,” he confessed. “I was alright until they showed all his pictures from life, and then I was just blubbering. I can’t listen to The Specials anymore. But it’s the same thing with Mazy, I still can’t look at her picture. When I’m going through my phone and Mazy comes up, I’m like… whoa. I can’t deal with it. Hopefully that’ll change.”

During the recording of ‘Maxinquaye’, Tricky suffered a severe asthma attack, and Hall drove him to the hospital: “He shit himself. His face turned grey, he thought I was gonna die. Luckily, we got to the hospital.”

The artist also opened up about the legacy of trip-hop, which he labelled “fucking stupid” and “lame”.

“It became really hipster and corny, all this trip-hop stuff,” said Tricky, who has historically rejected the term. While noting the recent 90s revivalism in music, he did not believe trip-hop could make a similar resurgence as genres of the time like jungle. “I don’t think it can have a resurgence because there weren’t enough artists claiming it,” he said. “But there’s a resurgence in different ways – Billie Eilish, some of her stuff sounds like me. So that’s a resurgence, because she’s had huge, huge success”.

‘Maxinquaye’ and its biggest hit, ‘Hell Is Around The Corner’, is known for sharing the same sample with Portishead’s ‘Glory Box’ – Isaac Hayes’ ‘Ike’s Rap II’. Looking back on it today, Tricky told NME that this was purely coincidence.

“We’re in the car with two women, one is driving me back to my apartment,” he said. “I’m playing [‘Hell Is Around The Corner’] and she told me, ‘Geoff [Barrow] sampled that!’ Which is crazy: it’s the same sample, same speed, but they’re two different songs, so it didn’t bother me.”

Tricky’s former engineer Mark Saunders (who worked on ‘Maxinquaye’) alleged that Tricky and Barrow had a fight about the alleged sample at the 1995 Mercury Awards. However, Tricky has denied the fight ever happened. “Geoff’s a lovely guy! He’s a real positive guy, even though he’s been thinking the world’s gonna end for the last 20 years,” he joked.

“He ain’t the sort of guy to say, ‘Fuck you, you used the same sample.’ There’s no up and down with Geoff, he’s the same guy as years ago; he’s humble.”

Tricky also claimed that Saunders, who published a blog in 2021 detailing the process of ‘Maxinquaye’, did not accurately portray how the album was made.

“On my baby’s grave, that guy exaggerates what happened,” he said. “He said once that he would play stuff when I was outside the studio, like the guitar, and I would come back and not notice it. Come on, that’s ridiculous.”

Tricky added that Saunders was a “good dude, but a strange guy”.

Thaws also revealed that he is planning on releasing new material, and is reportedly working on Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s posthumous album. Recently, he also helped produce the “punky” Jean Paul Agambi EP ‘Atomic Urban Extravaganza’, which was released through Tricky’s label, False Idols.

Looking ahead to his upcoming solo material, Tricky added: “It’s different and upbeat. I never considered my music to be fun, but this one track is really quite fun, catchy fuckin’ track. I’ve got four tracks which people will be surprised when they hear it.”

‘Maxinquaye (Reincarnated)’ by Tricky is out now. 

The post Tricky on ‘Maxinquaye’: “I do appreciate it, but I can also see the damage done to my mind” appeared first on NME.


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