Tricky – When We Die ft Martina Topley Bird (R.I.P. Mazy)
Tricky – When We Die ft Martina Topley Bird (6 Music Live Room)
Watch Tricky and Martina Topley-Bird perform When We Die in the BBC 6 Music Live Room in 2017.
This track is taken from Tricky’s 13th studio album Ununiform.
Rest in Peace Mazy Mina Topley Bird, their daughter, who took her own life aged 24 on May 8th, 2019.
Tricky on fame:
“I find it really f***ing annoying,” he says, in his wonderfully thick Bristol burr. “Yesterday a guy took a picture of me, and he thought he was being really clever, like I wouldn’t see him. Just come up! Why do you want a picture? You could come up, even have a drink or a coffee with me. And he wasn’t even a fan, just a doughnut who wanted to post a picture on his Instagram.”
Tricky on Anxiety:
In his book, he talks about living in Los Angeles in the 2000s, when he would keep an Uzisubmachine gun underneath his bed for protection. Would he have been prepared to use it?
“This ain’t bad-guy talk, cos I’m not a bad guy,” he says. “But people don’t realise what fear can do. I’ve had situations where I’ve been so scared, where I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, and it’s gone on for weeks and it’s ruining my life. It makes you sick, it makes you mentally ill.”
He continues: “So I had this person – I can’t tell you who – on my mind day and night. And there was a chance I could bump into them. My mate brought me over some gloves, a different gun, and I had to polish the bullets so you don’t leave your finger prints on them. And then I went out in the car, to see if we were going to bump into each other.”
He notices my eyes widening – not for the first time today. “Fear can be very dangerous. You should never make someone too scared of you.”
Processing emotions has never been easy for Tricky. He admits he was a terrible, absent boyfriend to Björk. She apparently told him he was “emotionally numb”. And it is true that, throughout the book, there is a sense of indifference to some of the people and situations in his life.
But it is striking how Tricky shakes off that detachment whenever he writes about Mazy. When talking about her, he is anything but emotionally numb: he recounts with love taking her on Australian tours (where she was babysat by Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction, of all people), and buying that house in the New Jersey wilderness so she could play safely away from the New York streets. His adoration for her is so clear and, now, so heartbreaking.
“One of the biggest problems with my daughter is that I’ve never loved anybody that much before,” he says. “I was there at her birth. And all of a sudden I started feeling things. And it was too much for me. Because I was emotionally numb, and it was easier for me to get through life being emotionally numb, but then suddenly I was feeling things.”
He tries to explain how he’s feeling now. “I’ve lost people before, like grandmothers, but I’ve bounced back,” he says. “This is different. Everything looks different, even music doesn’t sound the same. I feel like I’m losing my mind. I was in Islington yesterday and I was hoping I was going to see her, hoping she’s gonna walk up to me.”
I ask how he is coping, and he says therapy. “It’s good. Like, really good.” But getting through each day is tough. He says there is a girl in his apartment building in Berlin, where he lives, who is the spitting image of Mazy. When she was alive, he even connected the pair of them on FaceTime, just to freak them both out. “And now, when I see her, it’s like: ‘Whoa!’”
Mazy was a musician herself, and Tricky has plans to work on some of the songs she left behind. He already has two tracks that he wants to put on his next album. There are other things, too, that give him hope. Like the time a “white ghetto dude” stopped him in Notting Hill and said: “Your music got me through prison.” Or the moment a young Texan revealed that his family had played Tricky’s music to him while he was in a coma. Then there’s the nurse in a Chicago burns unit who told his drummer they played his music to the kids there. “That’s when I knew: ‘This ain’t just about me,’” he says.
He has been thinking of these stories a lot recently. About how others have found something in his music that has got them through.
“I never thought of my music as dark,” he says before we part. “It can’t be that dark to get people through a dark period, can it?”
He gives me a huge embrace before he leaves, an acknowledgement that it has been a difficult conversation for him. He is going through unimaginable darkness right now, but hopefully he, too, can find some light.