Robert Del Naja
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Robert Del Naja
Del Naja in 2007
|Also known as||3D|
|Born||21 January 1965 (age 54)|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, graffiti artist|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, keyboards|
|Associated acts||Massive Attack, The Wild Bunch, UNKLE, The Battle Box, Damon Albarn, Gorillaz, Neneh Cherry, Thom Yorke, Portishead, Tricky, Terry Callier, TV on the Radio, Horace Andy|
Robert Del Naja (/
Del Naja is one of the founding members of Bristol trip hop collective Massive Attack. In addition to his work with Massive Attack, he provided vocals to "Invasion" on Unkle's album Never, Never, Land, and "Twilight" on War Stories.
In December 2012, Del Naja released the first single of his new project called "The Battle Box", which fuses music, art and discourse across one-off live events, exhibitions and exclusive vinyl releases. He counted with the collaboration of artists such as Guy Garvey, and the Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band.
In December 2014, Del Naja donated ten unreleased music tracks to the Game Jam site "Ludum Dare", for a game event taking place in December. The songs will be used by the site developers to make soundtracks for the games. This new music material is also available for free download.
Del Naja was a graffiti artist before becoming a vocalist, and was featured in the book Spraycan Art by Henry Chalfant & James Prigoff, alongside fellow artist and future drum & bass pioneer, Goldie. His work has been featured on all of Massive Attack's record sleeves. The graffiti artist Banksy cites his work as an influence. Del Naja is credited as being the first graffiti artist in Bristol. He is also regarded as the pioneer of the stencil graffiti movement and bringing hip hop and graffiti culture from the USA to Bristol in the early 1980s.
Del Naja took part in a group show in 2007 called Warpaint at the Lazarides Gallery in London, featuring his art from the Unkle album "War Stories". He also created an exhibition of flags at "Massive Attack's Meltdown Festival" on London's South Bank in 2008. The installation was called "Favoured Nations". In the exhibition, alternative flags of the British Commonwealth were recoloured in the anarchist red and black and hung from the ceiling of the Royal Festival Hall main floor.
Del Naja and Davidge collaborated with United Visual Artists on the large scale installation 'Volume' at London's V&A museum in 2006. It consists of a field of 48 luminous, sound-emitting columns that respond to movement. Visitors weave a path through the sculpture, creating their own unique journey in light and music.
In a 2010 interview, Del Naja said "Painting is difficult for me because I'm colour blind. Back in the day, I had to label my spray cans with what colour they were because I couldn't tell. It's like the emperor's new clothes: [people] telling me it's great, and me pretending that's what I intended." Del Naja's first solo art show ran in the Lazarides gallery, central London from 24 May to 22 June. The show featured many of the works he created for Massive Attack, reinterpreted especially for the exhibition. The show also featured three one-off 'digital infinity mirrors' two of which contained phrases supplied by Reprieve extracted from drone pilot dialogues. Del Naja and Grant DJ'd at the opening night on 23 May.
Del Naja had a solo art show at the Lazarides gallery in central London from 24 May to 22 June 2013. The show's content spanned a period of over twenty years and featured many of the art pieces that Del Naja created for Massive Attack. Each piece, reinterpreted especially for the exhibition, was hand-printed and finished.
It has been speculated that Del Naja is responsible for creating the artwork attributed to the noted graffiti artist Banksy. In a 2017 segment on the Distraction Pieces podcast, guest DJ Goldie commented on Banksy's work: "Give me a bubble letter and put it on a T-shirt and write Banksy on it and we’re sorted. We can sell it now. No disrespect to Rob, I think he is a brilliant artist. I think he has flipped the world of art over." 'Rob' could refer to either Del Naja or Robin Gunningham. The artwork Del Naja has produced himself, seen in the booklets for Massive Attack albums going back decades, is also similar to Banksy's, and involves similar artistic and cultural sentiments. Massive Attack concert visuals also bear a notable resemblance to Banksy's work.
A multi-medium show conceived and designed by Del Naja and filmmaker Adam Curtis – in collaboration with United Visual Artists (UVA) – premiered in Manchester in July 2013. The show featured a Curtis film, unofficially titled 'The Plan', which was projected onto a huge screen surrounding the audience. The lighting and LED elements that surrounded the film and players were designed by Del Naja and UVA.
Music for film
With Massive Attack
Robert Del Naja with Neil Davidge / 1.6
- 1997: Welcome to Sarajevo – "Wire" / End-titles
- 1997: The Jackal – "Superpredators" (version) (opening titles, end credits)
- 2001: Moulin Rouge! – "Nature Boy" with David Bowie (end credits)
- 2002: Blade 2 – "I Against I" with Mos Def
- 2004: Bullet Boy – score and end titles song
- 2005: Danny the Dog – score
- 2007: Battle in Seattle – score
- 2007: In Prison My Whole Life – score and end title song "Calling Mumia" with Snoop Dogg
- 2008: Trouble the Water – score
Robert Del Naja with Euan Dickinson
- 2008: Gomorra (Matteo Garrone) – Herculaneum (winner of best song – Italian Oscars).
- 2010: Women Are Heroes (JR) – 2011 Dias De Gracia (Everardo Valerio Gout) Summertime/with Scarlett Johansson.
- 2013: The UK Gold (Mark Donne) with Thom Yorke – 2015 The Standing March (JR/Darren Aronofsky)
With The Insects
- 2009 44-Inch Chest – full score with Angelo Badalamenti
Musical scene and artistic peers
Robert Del Naja's music has been associated with the Bristol Sound.
Del Naja has said of the Bristol Scene: "We all grew up listening to punk music and funk stuff and those attitudes sort of snuck into our music. That sort of brought people from different circles together and maybe it wasn't as 'cultural melting pot' as it all sounds but because Bristol is quite a small place, it becomes a lot more focused then."
Del Naja has been critical of the government policies of the United Kingdom. He was strongly opposed to the 2003 war against Iraq, and with fellow musician Damon Albarn personally paid for full page adverts in the NME magazine. Massive Attack have previously played two shows in Israel, but have declined recent offers. They have described this "not an action of aggression towards the Israeli people" but "towards the [Israeli] government and its policies", arguing that "the Palestinians [in Gaza and the west bank] have no access to the same fundamental benefits that the Israelis do."
In 2005, Del Naja organised and performed at a charity concert in Bristol for Tsunami Relief with Adrian Utley and Geoff Barrow of Portishead. The two-night event featured Massive Attack, Portishead, Robert Plant, The Coral and Damon Albarn. Del Naja and Marshall performed three shows in 2005 in support of Hoping, an organisation that helps raise money, support projects for Palestinian youth in refugee camps in the Gaza strip and the west bank, Lebanon and Syria.
Del Naja and Thom Yorke of Radiohead threw an unofficial office Christmas party at an occupied UBS bank in London in December 2011, in recognition and support for the international Occupy movement.
Having previously boycotted playing at Bristol's Colston Hall due to its connection with the city's historic slave trade, in October 2012, Del Naja heavily criticised Bristol Mayor candidate George Ferguson because of his membership of a local organisation the Society of Merchant Venturers. The organisation dates back to the 16th century and had many connections with the Bristol slave trade, continuing to this day as an elitist private organisation, open to very few by invitation only. In November 2012, Del Naja then took a surprising stance to reverse his position and endorse George Ferguson. Del Naja was cited by local media as saying that the other candidates had only party political agendas at heart and a newly elected mayor needed more imagination to help implement creative projects for Bristol.
In July 2014, Del Naja and Marshall visited the Bourge-El Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon to meet with Palestinian volunteers at an educational centre. The band's profit from the show in Byblos was donated to the centre.
Del Naja was brought up in the Bishopston district of Bristol. His father is an immigrant from Naples in Italy and as a result Robert is a passionate supporter of the S.S.C. Napoli football team, as well as Bristol City.
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