The idea has started directly from Tricky during his recent promo-day in Milan supporting his new intriguing album False Idols (that will be released by the end of May). Right at the end of the interview arrives this immediate proposal by the original Bristol talent. “Hey, tomorrow I’m playing near here (at Live Club in Trezzo Sull’Adda, editor’s note): why don’t you come to see the gig and have a chat with my vocalist Francesca? She’s half Italian and she’s working on her debut album. It could be a cool thing!”. Said and done. Francesca is Francesca Belmonte, a.k.a. Franky Riley, she’s touring with our good Tricky Kid from the Knowle West Boy period and hers is the voice in both Mixed Race (2010) and False Idols. A name that, in the world of electronic music with no boundaries, is not unknown. And the consecration (instead of hell) is just round the corner…
Tricky told me that you’re working on your first solo album…
“Yes, for now I have four tracks but, from the moment the Tricky will be the main producer, I’m sure that other tracks will born directly on the road, during the False Idols world tour. Let’s say that I’m in the middle of a work in progress…”
When your CD will be released?
“In the spring of 2014, I believe, on False Idols label and distributed by !K7, a really cool Berliner label. This, at the moment, is just a hope so… let’s keep crossed fingers! (smile)”
The sound direction will be Tricky-addicted?
“I don’t know: I have a sound in my mind, but I still have to deal with musicians and engineers, so I’m not sure about what will come out. Thanks to my parents record collection I’ve listen to various things in my life: punk, reggae, new wave, hip hop, trip hop, rock, etc. I would like the songs in my first solo album to be electronic but with a blues touch inside.”
You’re 100% Londoners, but in your veins there’s Italian blood, right?
“Exactly, mom is Irish, but dad is from Naples. The thing is that in my family we only speak English so, the few times I came back to Naples, here’s the jokes from friends and relatives: “Come on Francesca, say something in napoletano slang!”. And I’m always so embarrassed because I can’t accomplished them! (laughs)”
How did you met Tricky?
“Actually my mom noticed him… I mean, she was watching Later… With Jools Holland on tv, a famous BBC music talk-show, and one evening Tricky was the special guest. ‘Hey, my daughter will love his music!’, was her first thought.”
“Three weeks after the show I found a curious advert on a music magazine: ‘Looking for a prepared and heterogeneous vocalist, send here your demos’. So I sent the demo and in a while I received an unexpected mail asking for an audition. Mail signed by Tricky. I almost fainted….”
I reckon that the audition was successful…
“Yeah, he made me sing Black Steel, the Public Enemy cover contained in Maxinquaye album, and Past Mistake taken from Knowle West Boy and the job was mine. Now it’s exactly five years we’re working together and I can assure you that Tricky is an artist that spreads ‘something more’ than others: with him you can only learn! And all the space he leaves me on stage, night after night, it’s a very precious training for me.”
You, that till few years ago were known as Franky Riley…
“Right, that was a phonetic tribute to two artists such as Patti Smith and Debby Harry. Even if my fave icon is Nina Simone that was born the 21st of February, the same date as me. And logically I admire also Martina Topley-Bird and Costanza Francavilla, the previous Tricky’s vocalists.”
By the way, your album will be released under the name of…
“Francesca Belmonte! Franky is over now! Ah ah ah!”
Last question: between all of your chief albums, which is your favorite?
“Pre-Millenium Tension. In that platter there’s a lot of cool stuff like Christiansands, Makes Me Wanna Die, Tricky Kid, Sex Drive and I prefer it to Maxinquaye. And of course, I’m not an hypocrite, I’m really proud of Mixed Race because I’m singing in it. And…”
“Well, now there’s False Idols! I think is a labour of love, something made with the heart capable of surprising a lot of Tricky’s fans…”
False Idols, the tenth album by Adrian Thaws, a.k.a. Tricky, will be released the 28th of May on homonymous label. For any reason in the world, don’t miss it!
(Many thanks to Cecilia Gatto for her precious contribution)