Primary Instrument: Turntable
Hello. I'm Buck 65 and this is my bio…
I was born with the name Ricardo Terfry. My dad started calling me Buck 65 the day I was born. I don't know why. That's the truth. A lot of stories have been made up about where the name comes from, some of them by me. I've lied about it. But where does the name come from? is a boring question. And the truth is, I don't even know myself.
I also get asked all the time, how would you describe your sound? I don't have a good answer for that either. I could say hip hop, but a lot of people would disagree with that. Why would they? Well, best I can figure is that it's a very conservative genre and my take on it is very liberal, to say the least.
I've long argued that the roots of hip hop music go all the way back to folk and blues � even minstrel music that pre-dates the birth of both those genres (take a listen to a song called 'The Gypsy' by Emmett Miller to see where I'm coming from, for example). But I can understand how that could be seen as an unpopular and controversial idea. Also, I have a broad definition of the genre that includes a lot of records most others probably wouldn't include.
Hip hop (and especially the teachings and ideals of Afrika Bambaataa) is very important to what I do. But maybe in fairness, it should be seen as some kind of starting point for me. I write songs on a wide variety of topics � many of which are not common ones in hip hop, admittedly. When writing a song, considerations of hip hop or street credibility never cross my mind. That being the case, no point of view, emotion, or instrumentation is off-limits for me. If I find an idea, memory, or emotion interesting enough to want to write about it, I just try to turn that into music in as clear and honest a way as possible. There have been cases where that's meant being very un-macho and putting a banjo player to work (both decidedly anti-hip hop notions, generally speaking).
I'm a big music fan. I have a massive record collection. And there's no kind of music I'm not interested in. We all fall under the influence of artists we admire and respect. I'm no different. I worship Bambaataa, Townes Van Zandt, Leonard Cohen, Captain Beefheart, Skip James, Johnny Cash, Iggy Pop, Radiohead, Jacques Brel, Serge Gainsbourg, David Lynch, Egon Shiele and countless others. But I try as hard as I can to carve out my own place confidently and leave those influences behind when putting the pen to paper or entering the studio or stepping onto stage (I can't claim to have been 100% successful in that so far...).
I don't think these ideas should make me special in any kind of way. But it seems that my path has taken me to a place I inhabit alone. This being the case, classification, understanding, and even finding an audience has been a challenge. But I don't do what I do for the sake of an audience. I don't make songs to make money or to become famous. I do this because I can't seem to help it. I've been doing this since I was a kid. For most of the years I've been doing this, I haven't had an audience. And I'll be doing this when I'm an old man (if I make it that far), even if there is no audience left. I can't explain what I get out of this (granted, making a living doing this is great and all...), but I know for sure that I need to do it.
I'm lucky enough to know many talented musicians and I work with people who can help me make good songs whenever possible. So far, that's run the gamut from some of the greatest turntablists ever (D-Styles, Skratch Bastid), to classically trained musicians (members of the Chicago Symphony, Gonzales, etc.), to gifted folk musicians from my own back yard (Old Man Luedecke, Al Tuck, etc.). It's always a question of what's best for the song (and who answers the phone).
So what do you call songs like Indestructible Sam, the French version of Devil's Eyes, Lil' Taste Of Poland or Kennedy Killed The Hat? I certainly don't know. I don't think they belong in the same genre together...Does it even make sense for one person to express themselves in such a wide spectrum of ways? Personally, I think it makes less sense to express oneself in the same way all the time. And
I know for a fact, from experience, that I'm no more complicated than anyone else.
So I guess what I'm saying is that I make music for myself. But if other people like it, that's wonderful and I appreciate the support and encouragement.