He's young, he's funky, he's got a record deal — and he's Tricky's uncle. Edinburgh's FINLEY QUAYE is hot property.
Words: Jim Byers
QUESTION: WHAT DO TRICKY, Iggy Pop. Duke Ellington, A Guy Called Gerald. Edinburgh, Moss Side, Manhattan and Dece- Lite’s Lady Miss Kier have in common? Answer: Finley Quaye.
The 22-year-old Edinburgh-born singer- songwriter, musician and part-time DJ is a recent signing to Sony Music, with an album due out this summer. But that’s just the beginning of the story.
Born in Edinburgh to a Scottish mother and a Ghanaian father, Quaye is uncle of trip hop king Tricky — Quaye’s big sister Maxin is Tricky’s mum, hence the name of the Tricky album Maxinquaye. His godfather is jazz composer Duke Ellington and his 48-year-old,
Finley Quaye: banging his own drum
LA-based brother Kaleb played guitar with Elton John for six years. What’s more, Quaye went to the same school in Manchester as Oasis’s Gallagher brothers and used to go out with Deee-Lite’s Lady Miss Kier.
Besides singing, DJing and playing drums. Quaye MCs at the Edinburgh drum ’n’ bass club, Manga. Oh, and he recently jammed, in a New York studio with Tricky and Iggy Pop. Got all that?
The image Quaye (pronounced ‘Kway’) presents is part natural and part contrived. In person, he occasionally appears aloof and arrogant, but also manages to be cheeky, charming and intriguing. His stoned Cockney banter is peppered with sudden bursts of enthusiasm and frequent bouts of disinterest.
Over the years, Quaye has experienced life in London, Manchester, Amsterdam, France and Manhattan. He now lives in Edinburgh because, he says, ‘I love it here, I find it very homely, I know it very well and it’s got cool air.’ Previously he has been a scaffolder, smoked fish, made futons and sprayed cars for a living. At the age of sixteen, he says, he realised he could do anything and excel at anything he wanted. He chose music because, he says,-‘it’s a beautiful thing to do’. When asked about his particular style, Quaye says: ‘I just make music of the times. It’s natural, organic music, nothing forced, nothing preconceived.’
His first big break developed out of a friendship with Mancunian acid house pioneer A Guy Called Gerald. The ﬁrst track on Gerald’s I995 Black Secret Technology album is called ‘Finley’s Rainbow’. Shortly after, Quaye was picked up by Polydor Records, although the company later dropped him. This initial setback left the door open for Sony Music, who quickly snapped him up.
The ‘Ultra Stimulation’ EP, his first release for Sony offshoot Haiku, is a curious, rootsy, almost bluesy, but primarily reggae-based affair, distinguished by Quaye’s trademark high-pitched, freestyle spoken and sung vocals. As a ﬁrst outing, it is more intriguing than essential, revealing a raw edge that hints to an as-yet-unrealised potential.
His second single ‘Sunday Shining’ features, ‘Lover, A Need I’ on the B-side, A Guy Called Gerald’s remix of Quaye’s ‘I Need A Lover’. An album — with a contribution from producer Carlos Bess, who has previously worked with American hip hoppers Wu Tang Clan — is pencilled in for a summer release. For now though, watch this space.
‘Things keep getting better,’ warns Quaye. ‘I never feel like I’ve achieved enough but I’m always achieving. I always have done and I always will.’
Finley Quaye's 'Ultra Stimulation‘ EP is out now on Haiku. His next single ’Sunday Shining‘ is out soon.
7-20 Mar 1997 TIE W 17