Buck 65 still taking chances

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Buck 65

Nova Scotia’s Buck 65, a.k.a. Rich Terfrey, has a few grey hairs on his beard and poking out from under his pageboy cap, marking his age and musical wisdom.

Terfrey, who has released several critically acclaimed records since the early 1990s, is working on his latest album with his old friend Paul Murphy, a.k.a DJ Skratch Bastid.

“We’ve been working on this record so long it’s insane,” Terfrey says. “I think I lost my mind working on this record a long time ago.

“The great thing about it is, although we’ve been working on [the album] for a long time, neither of us is tired of it at all.

“We take it as a promising indication that this stuff stays interesting and fresh to us. That makes us really hopeful for when the record comes out.”

While Terfrey is known as a genre-defying artist who dabbles in country and rock, he stays close to his hip-hop roots. He uses everything from Egyptian children’s albums to French music to sample unique beats.

Terfrey says it’s important to offer fans background information. If you read the back of the record and see where and when it was recorded and who was the engineer, you give yourself a good history lesson, he adds.

“You form a nice foundation of knowledge that will inform your future pursuits.”

Terfrey employs a little guess work to stay fresh and explore new sounds.

“For me, I always wanted to challenge myself further than just writing technical rhymes or finding complex words that rhymed with each other,” Terfrey says.

“An extra challenge on top of that is to make it make sense or tell a story, or trying to get a solid point across while working within those limitations because there are only so many words that will rhyme.

“I think [stories are] a really good way to make a point and also afford you a little bit of subtlety [especially for] political statements… if in telling a story it illustrates the emotion behind it and the beliefs behind it, you’re probably more likely to get someone on your side.”

Terfrey’s outlook on his music has changed over the years.

“When we first set out on that quest, looking for and exploring music, and knowing it’s probably going to be a lifelong one, at first it’s really random,” he says.

“You learn more and things make more and more sense to you, but you care less and less about being definitive or defining yourself or, in this case, the sound of my music. It’s about establishing an open mind.”

He illustrates his musical philosophy using a lyric from his album Vertex: “The older I get, the more life seems to make sense and the less I care.”

Buck 65 played with The Tragically Hip at the John Labatt Centre Monday night.

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