Interview: Daddy G | Massive Attack + MP3

They Come in Peace

Q & A with Massive Attack's Daddy G

by Joshua P. Ferguson

Originally published in Time Out Chicago magazine | 10.14.10

There has been a string of great concerts in Chicago recently and Massive Attack's show this past weekend was chief among them. The duo of 3D and Daddy G took to the Riviera Theater on Friday with support from Horace Andy, Martina Topley-Bird and Damon Albarn, whose Gorillaz played the following night. 

Emerging out of Jamaican sound-system culture in the U.K., Grant “Daddy G” Marshall, Robert “3D” Del Naja and Andrew Vowles permanently changed the DJ landscape in the early ’90s with Blue Lines. Combining dub and reggae, downtempo and hip-hop, their mixture became known as trip-hop and it made Massive Attack famous. But fame has its ups and downs, and creative differences led to Vowles’s departure after 1998’s Mezzanine. Marshall bowed out shortly thereafter. In 2007, Marshall and Del Naja reunited to work on what would become this year’s HeligolandIn advance of the show I was able to rap with Daddy G, to talk about the new record, reconciliation and, in what I'm happy to report was an exclusive scoop, whether or not Albarn would join them on stage.

How does it feel to be back together with a new record and a world tour?
It’s a relief for myself and [3]D. We seem to have our problems in the studio. Our personalities clash because we’re so passionate about what we’re doing. But this album has been quite a painless execution. It’s been a cool affair for a change.

It sounds like working with Damon [Albarn] helped with that.
We’d already decided to release an album when we came back from the tour in 2008. But it didn’t have the cohesion that we wanted. So we decided to go back into the studio and start again. We called on Damon to come in and be the referee for the reconceptualization of the fifth album, which is Heligoland now. He became the glue between myself and [3]D.

This record has more organic feel than your sample-heavy early days.
That’s the organic evolution that we’ve had, really. We started off doing the DJ thing and were very much influenced by hip-hop and the way hip-hop was made, and that’s what brought us into the studio. We’re not archetypal musicians as such. Technology was what helped us get our ideas over. Over the years we’ve just evolved into a band.

Without losing touch with your sound-system roots?
We’ve evolved into this, but we never forget our initial spur of inspiration. We always look to the sound-system ethos.

Do you still roll your eyes at the term trip-hop?
We used to roll our eyes when people attached the term trip-hop to Massive Attack, but over the years we’ve mellowed on that one. Commercially we understand why people were trying to put us in the trip-hop thing. In a way, it did describe what we were doing at the time. Like I said, we were influenced by hip-hop and we just gave it a British slant. I think that’s what caught people’s imagination. It was tripped out, we were looking for a more psychedelic way of making it.

Jump over to Time Out Chicago for the rest of the interview.

As a bonus we have a new video from Massive Attack for its new single "Atlas Air" lifted off a new four-track EP of the same name. Following the military theme of Heliogland, "Atlas Air" explores rendition flights, used to transport prisoners. But as Pitchfork pointed out (we got the video via (via Virgin Records)) the video really just plays out as if Thumper grew up to be a maniacal CGI rabbit of Cloverfield proportions who goes on to rip up cities. This was first seen in Massive Attack's other recent video for "Splitting the Atom."

We also wanted to include some tunage, so here's a link to the Gui Boratto remix of "Paradise Circus" which is featured on out latest podcast, due out at the end of this week:



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