Robert Del Naja is a busy guy – if he’s not touring the world in Massive Attack, then he’s creating his own art or being accused of being Banksy.
Does putting on an art show take your mind off the Massive Attack shows when they coincide?
It does yeah, but they’re all connected and everything is a work in progress at the moment, because the latest EP is slightly experimental as it’s not a conventional way for us to release music. We don’t know if we’re going to put an LP out, we’re going to put a series of lists out and see what combined feeling that creates when we get to the end of the year. It’s such a changing industry, it’s very hard to work out how you feel about it. In the old days when you were releasing music there was a sensation of a presence building and now everything changes minute by minute.
Are your live music visuals always evolving?
The modules we use have to be updatable. My goal at the moment is to make the stage show more AI. We’re using a few things at the moment including something we call a ‘Jibberiser’, which takes headlines from all the newspapers in Europe and then makes almost anagrammatic nonsense out of them like ‘Rihanna in EU Tax Row’ and ‘Google in Three-In-Bed Romp with George Osbourne’ so you can get the idea of repetition and sensationalism in the media.
Have you ever been creating new Massive Attack artwork and an old Massive Attack song has come on the radio? That would be annoying.
That would be really annoying, that would be like when you go on your Instagram feed and get a dialogue of ‘Hey when are you going to make some new music?” and then after the first gig “When are you going to play the old songs?” For fucks sake, see you later! That’s never happened actually… probably because thinking about it, I don’t listen to the radio when I’m doing that!
Some of your artwork is very intertwined with your music – when you get out that stuff does it bring up memories of making those records?
Nah, to be honest, you know what life’s like – things still feel like yesterday. It’s strange that. I always used to watch films, like Once Upon A Time in America and De Niro would be this old guy thinking back to his youth on the streets and it almost seemed like an infinite fog between the past and present. But I never found that with life, it all feels like yesterday.
What’s worse, an exhibition opening or a gig?
Put it this way – to answer that question. For the first show of the opening night of the tour, I have to be on stage and for the opening night of the exhibition I’ll be in the pub.