Buck 65 conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Buck 65: Traveling In The Right Direction

August 2005

MVRemix: With you making your own beats and the DJ'ing background, how or who inspired you to use your scratching as an actual instrument like on the end of "The Floor"?

Buck 65: Mostly the naysayers I suppose. Throughout all the years, and I can remember with my old radio show I would kind of report on Hip Hop politics and news a lot. I remember I would read an article and I remember once hearing Clint Black, the country singer saying all this bad about Hip Hop music or Perry Ferrel saying it's "shit music" it's not "real music," it's just abrasive noise. It used to really get under my skin, kind of like a lot of people who really get defensive about stuff like that which is interesting to ask yourself about what people get defensive about things like that. But I always wanted to listen to what people were saying and I was never satisfied to just let that be. I always thought if that guy Clint Black or Perry Ferrel or Jack White or anyone else Buck 65 Interviewout there who publically say they hate Hip Hop music, I always thought if they heard the right records, they wouldn't say that. You know they're not fans, so you know they're not out there listening to everything and maybe they are just hearing the real crappy pop stuff out there - I don't know. After a while, with this being something that I internalized and kind of took personally, I thought I want to be the guy just to prove everyone wrong. For everyone who has said, "A turntable can't do this..." Well, yes it can. I want to show you that it can or a Hip Hop song should be able to do this or they can't talk about this or Hip Hoppers can't do this or that. That has always been, strangely, a motivator for me. I guess it was born out of some insecurity I suppose.

It's a difficult instrument to work with, it's not the easiest. In the case of a song like "The Floor," which is a really quiet song to start out with and one with a very particular and heavy mood. It just wouldn't make any sense to scratch in "Fresh" when the beat kicked in there - absolutely not. I've heard Hip Hop songs like that and it doesn't really strike me as appropriate whatsoever.

[Claire, the singer on most of "Secret House Against The World" comes and sits in, joining us]

So there's partly the naysayers thing, but it's partly me trying to be as musical and defined about what I'm doing as possible and just keeping a musical ear. It was a challenge just to say in a song like "The Floor" which is essentially emotional gravity, I want to have a turntable solo in there. To me that was a challenge, like how do you do that well? And how do you make it... Not only appropriate in terms of the sound you select and everything. But how do you make it belong there? Because going back to what I was saying earlier, wanting the lyrics and the music to be married with such an emotional lyrical content, the music has to match. So, the turntable had to be expressed in an emotionally appropriate kind of way. To express emotions with a turntable that aren't strictly aggressive, which is what the instrument can do particularly well is a challenge, and I was very happy with how that was executed in the end. I thought that in the end it kind of delivered, strangely, an emotional impact. It's an emotional moment.

MVRemix: How did "The Floor" come about? What inspired that?

Buck 65: There were a few different things that inspired it. First of all, there was a song by the Belgian singer Jacques Brel. I can never pronounce his name...

Claire: [with her authentic accent] Jacques Brel.

Buck 65: Called "Ces Gens La" ("Those People There"), where it just starts off with something very quiet and repetitive then all of a sudden... Bam! It explodes. I thought "Yeah, that's an interesting way to put a song together." That's just the starting point of wanting to do something like that. Knowing that I wanted to do something very quiet and delicate I was like well what should I do, what should I get into to talk about here? When it gets to that point in a song for me, I have no imagination. I can't just dream up stuff, I've never been able to do that. I can't motivate myself to write. I can't get my pen moving, and believe me I've tried. Unless it comes from inside me, somewhere. I read something which got me kind of thinking of an idea which evidently sent me back to my childhood and some things. Some personal experiences and some things which I'd just observed with my friends growing up, even some things that I'd seen recently. So maybe I could put that all in the context of a story in the first person. I think that's the way to deliver a message in it's most effective way for a listener. Even though it sounded in the song that I'm maybe even talking about a particular day, I could be drawing on different things I saw over the course of a lifetime. Which is to kind of re-tell a story in one day. Beyond that, it's a little difficult to talk about, I suppose, but there's not a whole lot I can say about it that the song doesn't really say on its own. It's another case of a situation that I keep stumbling into accidentally, like I did for the first time on "Man Overboard" with the song about my mother. It's always that one quiet little real personal song that you slip in there. It's the last thing you'd ever conceive of as a single.

MVRemix: We've spoken a number of times with regards to your living in Paris and living in Canada and so on and so forth. Currently, what's the standing with regards to your living situation?

Buck 65: Back living full time in Paris, if you could call it that because we're on the road so much. Any place I live at, at any given time is almost like a glorified storage facility; my stuff's there. But I'm not there all that often. It seems that Paris now is pretty much the base for good. Although, I'm thinking a lot about how much I'd like to buy the house that I grew up in. Ultimately, my biggest desire would be to have a base in both spots. But more importantly since we spoke last year, we were based in New York, which was a new thing, and the realization of something that I'd wanted to do for a really long time. That was a great experience, I loved it. I really loved it. It certainly had a bit of a bearing on the record. I think you can hear little bits of New York city on the new record if you listen close.

MVRemix: Yeah, it's quite an eclectic record.

Buck 65: Well, you know the first part was recorded in Chicago. Some of the lyrics were written in New York, then we finished the bulk of the recording and all the lyric writing, especially stuff that Claire and I wrote together, was all done in France.

Claire: In Bretagne and Paris.

Buck 65: In Brittany and in Paris. It's not gonna have the same force. Like if you wrote a record in jail, it'd probably be reflected. The record was mixed in Bristol. Some parts were recorded in L.A., some in Toronto. The record itself travelled a lot and so it has all sorts of touches on it that probably attach to its geography a little.

MVRemix: Yeah, I mean, I really enjoyed this one.

Buck 65: I'm happy to hear you say that. So far what has been interesting to me is that this seems to be, strangely, maybe the most polarizing record that I've made yet. Luckily most people seem to be on the positive pole, but stronger than I've ever had people on my side before. I don't know if I've ever gotten a record that's got a fair share of five star reviews. I've gotten a lot of fours and plenty of threes, believe me. But this one is getting some really over the top strong responses. Then some people just flat out are not into it whatsoever. I don't read reviews, but just based on what I'm hearing... Claire seems to read more. There's not a lot of middle road stuff. That was kind of agonizing to me about the last couple because feeling, or at least hoping that I'm doing something mildly interesting or not the norm and in the end it gets these sort of blahzay middle of the road reviews, I would rather people hate it.

The other interesting thing with the feedback is everyone seems to single out different songs which I think is a strength of it. But, one thing that is to extent conscious is I rarely, and this may sound shitty, but I don't think about an audience when I'm writing songs because that to me is perverted. If inspiration strikes and you think, "No, maybe I won't write that because the audience won't like it," that just seems sac-religious to me. If I had a personal criticism of "Talkin' Honky Blues," it would be that there wasn't enough turntablism on it. But getting D-Styles to do some things on this record because there were some steps on this record taken further away from Hip Hop than ever, to take another step that goes deeper into the heart of it. I think more than ever or more than any other record that I've had my name attached to before, it kind of offers something for everyone which could be hard on the head for some people. I think a song like "The Floor" really sums it up in a number of ways. There's the subject matter and what's going on is a whole other discussion. We've had these classical elements, just to analyze the production of it, the subtlety and the quietness of it... If I had to explain myself to someone who knew nothing about me right now. I would say check this song out. It would give a pretty good idea as to where to start and where to imagine the possibilities out there or whatever.

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