Monday, August 2, 2010

Buck 65 Interview - 2nd August, 2010

On the eve of his Australian tour (see earlier post),  Buck 65 took some
time to give us an insight into his life, music, passions and influences. 
In a career spanning over 20 years, his longevity is a testament to his
honesty and openness as an artist, staying true to what he feels and not
what the market dictates.  A gifted storyteller, producer, turntablist,
baseball player and stage performer (despite admittedly being a painfully
shy person), Buck 65 is a musical traveler creating soundscapes and
scenarios that capture the emotional core of the listener. 
We hope one day he writes that screenplay.

Below is the full transcript.


    What kind of jobs had you done before becoming a full time artist?
Did you ever image that you would be touring the world and sharing
your artistic vision?

I once got a job as a lifeguard, even though I can't swim. I worked in
a parking lot. At a gas station. Lots of crappy, low-paying jobs. I
never imagined touring and being so open with people because I was -
and still am, really - a painfully shy person.

    You once said that if you could choose between a career in
baseball or music that it would be baseball.  Do you still feel that
way today?

I do. I still love baseball. I follow professional baseball
obsessively. I still collect baseball cards. It might take up more of
my time than music these days. I still play as much as possible too.
I'm still good, but my body is a bit banged up. In fact, I'm in
physiotherapy now for some old baseball injuries.

   Your music is very visual and often evokes the feel of a road
movie.  Do you see yourself as a musical traveler?  Does this stem
from an early desire to escape the isolation of growing up in a small
country town?

I guess I'd say I fancy myself a musical traveler. Why not?! I'm
always exploring new and old music and a lot of what I collect ends up
stinking up my own stuff. And I've always been a bit of a dreamer, but
growing up, I never desired to escape the small town where I grew up.
I loved it there. I wish I could go back!

   What, if any, challenges have you faced being involved in hip hop
which some consider to be an exclusively black art form?

Well, the key for me is always being honest with what I'm doing. To
put it bluntly, I never pretend to be black, which a lot of white
rappers seem to do. I actually find that to be offensive. So the worst
that can happen is that someone will say that what I do isn't their
cup of tea, which is fine. The place I've found for myself is
decidedly outside. So I don't bother anybody and nobody bothers me.
Most hardcore "hip hop heads" don't even consider me hip hop. That's
fine by me too.

   Being a gifted story teller, have you ever considered or attempted
other forms of writing i.e.; novels or screenplays?

I have considered both. I think I'm more interested in writing a
screenplay. I have some ideas. I write them down in a little book.
Maybe one day...

   Is there an underlying theme or message to your music that you
want to get across?

Mostly I just want to make the most beautiful music I can make. I
guess I'm just hoping for some sort of emotional reaction. Even when
I'm addressing something specific, I'd rather make someone feel than

   What do you enjoy the most - the creative process or performing?

That's a hard one. Both are agony in their own way. Writing hurts.
Recording can be fun. Performing kills. I'm a strongly introverted
person. My personal agonies send me searching for the pen. With pen in
hand, I bring the agony into extremely sharp focus. THEN, the
introvert is coaxed into the roll of the extrovert to display and
amplify the agony in public! It's cruel and unusual! But I'm addicted
to it for some perverse reason.

   What kinds of equipment and programs are most important to your
production process?

I often put together demos using Ableton Live and then use Logic in
the studio. I also still love the SP-1200 - especially for drums. And
turntables will always be a very important part of what I do.

   What artists have been influential in forming your style?

I've been trying to shed influences as much as possible. And I fear
that answering a question like this will make me sound like a dick
because I lot of my main creative influences aren't musical. But here
we go! Max Ernst. Francis Picabia. Ingmar Bergman. Lee Miller. Maya
Deren. Yves Klein. Marcel Proust. I could go on for a long time. I'll
stop now.

   Your new project, the 20 Odd Years volumes feature a lot of
collaborations.  Are there any artists you haven't worked with that
would make a dream collaboration and what would be the possible
outcome of such a project?

When I work in collaboration with someone, I usually just think, "who
has the right voice for this?" And I usually know someone personally
who can do the job. So I don't think in terms of "who would be cool to
work with". I don't think I ever worked with anyone that I didn't
already know personally. But if I could work with anyone... Hmmm...
Lee Perry? If I ever worked with him, the results would be sheer
madness, I'm sure. But it would sound good.

   You have been very prolific over your 20 year career.  You seem to
be working on at least 10 different projects a year.  Do you ever have
downtime and how do you spend it?

I rarely do nothing. If I ever have free time, I try to spend it with
my wife. If there's ever any left over just for me, I usually fill it
up with baseball. I'd watch baseball on TV all day, if I could.

   Do you have a mantra or manifesto for life and your music?

I borrowed one from an old baseball player named Willie Keeler. He
said, "Keep your eye clear, and hit 'em where they ain't." I also try
to abide by "Slow down, you sons a bitches".

   Do you see yourself as spiritual, scientific or both?

I am completely scientific and not religious at all, but love rules my
life. Does that make sense?

   What is the meaning of life according to Buck 65?

I'm still trying to figure that one out.

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