An introduction from Richard’s biog:
“Glued together with Trip-Hop production, TrickyDicky fuses Hip-Hop’s rhythmical bounce with flavoursome Jazz, RnB harmony. As a producer and multi-instrumentalist (drums, percussion, guitar, keys, and bass), he self-produces his music. Having built an arsenal of new music set to release in 2020, he has collaborated with numerous featuring vocalists on his upcoming singles (Kalliope, Patricia Lint, Emily Dawkins, Nina Wegener). As an artist, he has worked with Dave Cronen (Beastie Boys, Rough Trade Records), Kieron Pepper (The Prodigy, BBC Radiophonic Workshop) and the Metropolis Blue development team. As a drummer and percussionist from the age of 3, Richard studied Jazz under the likes of Grammy Award Winner Gast Waltzing at the Luxembourg Conservatoire from 2014-2018. As a solo artist and freelance drummer, he has performed and recorded extensively in the South and Greater-London scene.”
Quite the CV then. A drummer and percussionist from the age of three, a multi-instrumentalist, producer, not to mention from an international background… Son of an English father and a Welsh mother, Richard grew up in Luxembourg and speaks French, and some German.
I sat down with Rich in his living room to discuss what was racing through his head, what he was up to, and his new music set to release in 2020.
How’s life treating you?
“Yeah, it’s all going well mate. It’s really busy, I’m getting all the promo ready, editing live videos for my upcoming singles, finishing the last tiny details on the EP, stockpiling new tracks. Once I get this EP finished, I’ll get straight to work on the next one. I’m really enjoying the whole process, and feel very lucky to be doing what I’m doing. I want to open the new decade with a bang. There are some release date announcements coming very soon.”
It was good to hear that, with his hectic schedule as an artist and freelance drummer, Rich was enjoying the chaos.
On his upcoming single “Between the River and the Railroad”, he collaborated with RnB singer Kalliope, bringing mesmerizing, soulful vocals to the forefront of the track. Melodically captivating, lyrically introspective and musically weaponized, Rich seems determined to leave his mark on the music industry.
‘Between The River and The Railroad; is expected to drop soon. What was the highlight of the creative process?
“This is a track I wrote a long time ago, it’s had a continuous life cycle, evolving from one idea to another. The longer I sat with it, I found myself writing some quite introspective lyrics on top, as well as exploring some pretty sensitive subject matter. My favourite thing about it is the contrast between the vibrant instrumentation and the darker lyricism. As an artist, that sums me up well, and it’s the sort of music I want to put out there.”
“I want to make as big a statement at the start of the new decade as I possibly can, combining all sorts of different influences. I’ve saved my best music for 2020.”
So this is your first release for that reason? You want people to see you as an artist that fuses genres together?
“As an artist, I want to bring people and genres together with my music. Stylistically, I’ve got this confusingly big pool of different influences that I merge together. I try not to be not just one thing, but all of them at once”.
“I came from a jazz background – theory, drumming, combos… I want to bring that to the hip-hop scene and combine it with some RnB, TripHop and other things. I’m here to leave my dent in the music industry and throw a metaphorical drumstick into the works. I want to push my music, my playing and my songwriting as far as it will possibly go.”
Rich’s ambition was infectious.
Stylistically, how would you describe your debut single, as well as other songs you’ve worked on?
“So all my music is glued together with a sort of trip-hop production, marrying hip hop’s rhythmical bounce with Jazz and RnB harmony. Growing up, my parents were always playing 70s records. That was a strong inspiration initially, and then I got into the hip hop scene while studying jazz, throwing myself into production. A future release also borrows from my Latin musical background, and others have psychedelic inclusions.”
Rich specified here that “I don’t and will never do drugs, just for the record. But some of the music I’ve made might be enjoyed by people who do.”
He stressed jokingly for me to phrase that correctly.
So your music is all about blending those slightly unorthodox genres together and introducing them to new audiences?
“Yeah, definitely. I’m trying to do things a bit differently and see how much I can get away with it. I want to shake up what genres offer to fans. I want to break down genre barriers and move away from the notion of being just one thing.”
I was impressed. Rich had a quiet, unpretentious confidence about him, and he came across as something of a musical scientist, fusing strange elements together without a complete hypothesis for the reaction.
What does your work style look like for each track?
“I write and produce the track, make it its own unique thing, and glue it together thematically and stylistically. I write and record all the music prior to working with a vocalist since I don’t sing. I then write the lyrics, often independently. Sometimes I’ll write lyrics with the singer or they’ll come up with ideas independently. I recorded all singers with my mix and master engineers (Jed Seeley, Ben Hiley, and Sam Thorpe). I finish off any details in post-production.”
“Between the River and the Railroad” has already had an extensive life cycle from day one. Does it mean the same to you now as it did when you first started writing it? You must be almost sick to death of it by now, right?
“There was a time towards the end when I just needed to finish it so I could move on, but that happens with all the music you make. I’ve taken a long break from it and as I’ve revisited it, it means more to me now than ever before. I can finally listen from a non-critical standpoint and just enjoy the fruits (if any) of all my hard work.”
“I can’t begin to describe how much work went into this track and the EP. I can’t stop until a track is exactly how I want it. Obsession with minute detail can sometimes weigh me down and can get in the way of the enjoyment of it all. But I’m so relieved that I can sit back now and think “I can’t do anything more to this”. ”
His obsession with detail was evident not only in his music but also in his approach to business, logistics, organisation, and video content.
Rich also has a live studio video of his first and second singles, which will be released to YouTube and his socials. He sang the praises of his “fantastic live band”, ACM’s industry link team and the Metropolis Blue development team for helping him put this together.
“By performing in the studio videos with my incredible live band, the songs took on another live life cycle. I rearranged both singles, wrote out all the charts and rehearsed meticulously with everyone. I have the honour of performing live shows with my lovely band in June, and I can’t wait to get on stage performing my songs with them all.”
How did you go about making the music video for “Between the River and the Railroad”?
“The process was truly D.I.Y. Next to my student accommodation last year, there was this tile shop which had a little car park. The thing was, the parking there was customer-only, and parking elsewhere can be pretty expensive. So, I’d always tell my mates who wanted to park at mine to go and buy a sample kitchen tile in the shop next door for around 50p. This happened a few too many times, and by the time I moved out, I had about 30 tiles lying around. I wanted to find a use for them. So, I took square pictures of a load of them, colour-graded them and created stock-animation. Moving shapes, explosions of colour, doors opening, and sunsets… It’s well and truly bonkers. I designed 530 individual frames for the video. It took me several weeks of non-stop work.”
His unrelenting “do-or-die” work ethic seems to be at the heart of everything Rich sets his mind to…
“Because I have learning difficulties, specifically visual-processing issues, I really struggle working with visual media and processing any information when I read. I always used to get extra time on school exams. So attempting an inherently visual music video was truly terrifying. But I loved every minute of it.”
Effortlessly we pressed on.
I hear a lot of people asking this question. What’s the story behind the artist name “Tricky Dicky”?
“What a lot of people don’t realise is that “Tricky Dicky” is a nickname that I’ve grown up with my entire life, not just some random artist name that I landed on. It started when I was a kid. I think it was my uncle who called me “Tricky Dicky” in reference to Richard Nixon and it kinda stuck. I am by no means a supporter of Nixon, but his nickname seemed to catch on for whatever reason. My family and mates call me “Tricky”, “Dicky” or “Rich”. It’s gotten to the point where it’s weird if they actually call me “Richard”.”
So finally, on a personal note, what do you want this EP to say about you when it’s released?
“On a personal level, I make music very much for myself, for the enjoyment, and for the self-reflection. This EP is an insight into my life and has become very much a part of me. I want people to understand me as a person as well as my musical style from the music that I release. Behind the scenes, this is several years in the making… 14 hour-days for months on end (no, that is not an exaggeration), long nights, early mornings, endless stress, complicated logistics, deadlines…
But at a time like this, I feel a certain responsibility as a musician to bring people together. I’ve put absolutely everything into this EP, and I hope everyone enjoys it half as much as I have making it.”
“I can’t stress enough how much everyone’s support means to me. It gives me such a strong purpose when I make music. I don’t have many fans, but I’m extremely grateful to anyone who enjoys and supports my music. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s 1 person listening or 1,000,000… The support I get from fans in the UK, Luxembourg and elsewhere, my mates and my family back home who make this all possible – it makes me realise that all my work is worth it when I’m working into the early hours of the morning.”
Tricky Dicky’s singles will be released throughout the coming months on all major streaming platforms, compiled together on a highly anticipated EP set to release later in 2020. His carefully planned unpredictability seems to have everyone hooked before he has even announced a release date. His upcoming music is sure to open ears and turn heads on an international scale.
Follow Richard on Instagram @tricky._.dicky and on Facebook at Richard Penn Music.