Formed by Tricky after a move to Berlin earlier this year, Skilled Mechanics is a collaborative project that allows the producer and vocalist to work with many different artists, while at the same time pushing his unique vocal talents to the forefront. Last month, the first music from the project surfaced in the form of “Beijing To Berlin,” a brash hip-hop track featuring guest vocals from Chinese rapper Ivy, which promptly sold out on limited edition 7″. Today, Tricky shares details for the full album project.
“The name comes from a documentary about espionage,” he explains. “There was an ex-C.I.A. agent on this programme speaking about assassins who were sent abroad by the US to start revolutions and topple governments. He called them ‘skilled mechanics.’ I thought that was a great name for someone who was a killer basically. The name was so dark and cynical it just stuck with me.”
The most prominent of the collaborators on the new record is DJ Milo, who is not only one of Tricky’s oldest friends, but also the first person he ever recorded with, not to mention his introduction to The Wild Bunch. “I used to practice with Milo round at Daddy G from Massive Attack’s house,” says Tricky. “I can remember we did a cassette. This was the first time I ever released music and this tape went all around Bristol. He would be cutting up a break and I’d rap over it. But me and him went very well together. There was a little bit of magic about it. Milo is on five of the tracks on the Skilled Mechanics album. Some of the tracks I did with him sound like old school hip hop but not dated – very modern.”
Another major player on the album is Luke Harris, Tricky’s regular tour drummer, though his presence was almost accidental: “We were on tour recently and the band were soundchecking while I was in the dressing room. I could hear the vocals loud and clear but then my regular singer, Francesca Belmonte walked past the dressing room. I thought, ‘What the fuck?’ So I went out to have a look and there was my drummer filling in for her on vocals because she needed the bathroom. There and then I said to him, ‘Do you know what? On my next project you’re going to be my vocalist…’”
The album Tricky presents: Skilled Mechanics is out 22nd January on Tricky’s False Idols imprint. Pre-orders are available now, and a new track “Diving Away” (a version of “Porpoise Head” by Porno For Pyros) can be streamed below.