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Buck 65 - Buck Naked

Author: Justin Levy
Friday, 14 December 2007

Buck 65, (birthname Richard Terfry) reveals himself, his passions for making and appreciating music, his take on settling down, the new album and corresponding trip down under, as well as the uncertainty and hype surrounding his name’s origins. 3D’s Justin Levy has a pen and a keen ear.

What does the established Canadian MC hip hopping turn-tablist renowned for his experimentalism in hip hop with blues, country, folk and rock have to say about the current hip hop scene-

“Starting 15 years ago, the way it looks to me, anyway, there was a major shift where marketing and marketability became a larger concern than talent, to be perfectly honest with you,” he says. “15 years ago and certainly the time before that, when I was listening to hip hop music, you pretty didn’t mention hip hop and pop in the same breath – there wasn’t really any such thing as pop in hip hop music. But now it seems pop music is kinda dominated by hip hop in a lot of ways these days, and certainly informs it in a really strong way and had an effect on the genre across the board. It just seems to have a more pop sensibility to it than it ever has, for better or for worse.”

But Buck admits that he has also changed over time, and this can be seen in his music.

“I think it’s because I’ve become a lot more assured as time has gone on.  I look back at my stuff from 15 years ago and what makes it really difficult for me to listen to sometimes is that I can hear my own insecurities, which are really natural when you’re younger and because we’re insecure as teenagers and still trying to figure out our lives,” says Buck.

“So I think I’ve got a lot more comfortable, I’ve found my voice, y’know. I’ve been able to carve out a little place for myself, and I’ve learnt how to be honest really in a lot of ways, which is important. I’ve really just learnt a lot about music in general, I think my horizons have been broadened, and I’ve learnt a lot about technology and how to make and learn different tricks in the studio to make better sounding records.”

One thing about learning is that it can be tiresome, and Buck says his touring schedule burns him out after a while. He was born in Novascosha, Canada, now known as Cape Breton Island, a quiet rural town in East Canada which he calls ‘Nowheresville’ – but since then has been out and about constantly touring the busy states and cities.
having just taken a little break at his girlfriend’s parents’ house in Colorado to help set up Christmas decorations, Buck has completed his US tour and headed to Paris for a week, before swinging back around to Sydney. He admits the thought of calming things down a little is recurring much more often (not that Sydney isn’t an exciting prospect).

“I’ve really kind of been floating for the last bunch of years, and I find more and more in my life in this relationship I see as my lifelong thing – the idea of finding a home and settling down is more and more important to me all the time.”

His humble beginnings first spread their way further toward the spotlight with a career at the local college radio. Buck, just finishing school at the time, began his path as a music appreciator, an avid record collector curious to learn more about music and teach this learning to the public. This paved the way for his current job (outside the Buck 65 musical rampage, of course), a radio position with CBC Canada.

“It’s definitely still something I love very much, y’know, it’s been an opportunity for me to learn a lot about music and enjoy music, and it’s an area that makes a lot of sense for me. It’s kind of a dream job for me because I love it so much, so it’s a chance for me to pour my passion and joy (and not his own music, he promises) into a job, and it’s also an opportunity to be always learning more about music,” says Buck. “And the 11 years that I did the radio at the uni when I was younger – it took basically that whole 11 years – I took on a project for myself to listen to every record that was in the library, beginning to end. And that’s pretty much the basis of my musical education. I just spend a lot of my free time in the library sitting on the floor listening to one record after another.”

Buck’s new album, Situation, the most recent of a discography too long to count, is a collaboration with his mate Paul, professionally known as Scratch Bastard, who turns the tables while Buck belts out the raps.

“Something that just started out as fun, working with a friend, led to this whole kinda thing, and I think that’s a good way to make a record – just having some fun and without muddled ambitions of taking over the world or anything like that. We were just trying to express ourselves and have fun, throw some ideas around, and, lo and behold, we ended up with this thing. It just happened in a really simple and organic way.”

Buck’s been to Australia before, but never for an extended period of time. This time he’ll be having a little holiday while he’s here to promote Situation, and perhaps start his settling down period early.

“This upcoming trip, if I remember correctly, is my third or fourth trip, but it’s going to be my longest and most extensive of visits – I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll have some downtime to be a tourist and I look forward to have some real experience this time, not just work.”

I couldn’t resist asking Buck – never in the past able to reveal or remember the source of ‘Buck 65’ – about the lifelong nickname used by the public, the press, his friends and family. What did he at least suspect to be the main reasoning- Think Bucker!

“I haven’t figured it out yet but a new theory, ah, was brought up recently, and, um, it makes a certain amount of sense but it frightens me as well. Someone came up with the idea that perhaps, um, I was purchased as a baby for a dollar and sixty-five cents,” he says, not with an ultra-serious tone, but not jokingly either. “And it has always been a question on my mind, like I’m much taller than anybody in my family, and often when I’ve meet new people that I’m getting to know they say, ‘Well, do you look more like your mother or your father-’ and I’ve always said ‘I don’t really look like either of my parents at all’. Then I’ll show people photographs, they’ll agree and say, ‘Wow, you really don’t look anything like either of your parents’. And there was a lot about – everything about me that just seems to have so little in common with the rest of my family, y’know, there’s a certain amount of logic that’s lent to it, well, that maybe I was purchased, maybe I’m not a blood relative,” he says, completely entranced by the idea of his adoption for a small fee. “Beyond that it’s just a theory. I don’t have any conclusive evidence. It’s a bit of a mystery.”

WHO: Buck 65
WHAT: Plays Feelgood Festival, Peats Ridge Festival and the Basement
WHEN: Saturday 29, Sunday 30 December, Wednesday 9 January

Sunny day, keeping the clouds away… Buck 65 can sure tell you how to get to Sesame Street… When he was just in his early 20s, he was asked by the popular children’s program to record a song about helping your parents do groceries, called The Grocery Store Rap. (Apparently, he had quite a few cookies with Cookie Monster that day.) It was a feather in Buck 65’s cap for a very long time… and then he decided to call up the Children’s Workshop to ask why they asked him, of all people, to get involved… Turns out their principal reasons were that he was of below average attractiveness, a ‘nice balance’ between dumb and smart, and presumed to be a virgin.