Chasing a creative ghost

After cancelling his appearance at last summer’s Wolfe Island Music Festival, Buck 65 returns to Kingston with his self-produced beats

On Feb. 28 Buck 65 tweeted “Kingston, Ontario! Two very different shows coming up on Friday and Saturday. My advice: come to both.”
On Feb. 28 Buck 65 tweeted “Kingston, Ontario! Two very different shows coming up on Friday and Saturday. My advice: come to both.”

Richard Terfry, better known as Buck 65, isn’t pretending anymore.

“Over the years, I’ve grown to be comfortable with who and what I am,” he told the Journal via email. “Early on, I tried to be tough. Now, I mostly want to make pretty music.”

Fall of 2003 marked the release of his single “Wicked and Weird” and the first time I ever heard Buck 65. To be honest, I don’t think I had a clue what Terfry was talking about, but as a rambunctious 12-year-old, “doing back flips on a mattress” sounded appealing.

Terfry is the Nova Scotian musical mastermind behind his pseudonym Buck 65’s raw raps and scratchy beats. As a self-taught musician and producer, his first single “The Rhyme Has to be Good” dropped in 1990.

Despite growing up amongst a group of friends who weren’t interested in hip hop, Terfry managed to persevere, performing at school dances, in living rooms and in the woods — with or without an audience.

For Terfry, it isn’t the location that makes a performance, but the artist’s dedication.

“I just want to see the performer commit to what they’re doing,” he said. “It’s a thrill to watch someone lose themselves in what they’re doing.”

Terfry is a self-described selfish artist and said he never expected to gain such a loyal fan base.

“I never expected to have [an audience] and I still figure that one day I won’t have one again,” Terfry said. “I’m not trying to change the world or help people. I just chase the creative ghost and work to express what I see as clearly and as honestly as I can.”

Terfry doesn’t expect people to like his music, and this low-pressure attitude has been a cause for his success.

After years of performing and collaborating with other artists, there is one unique aspect of Terfry’s personality that is most unexpected. People, and I quote, “freak him out.”

“My biggest challenge is just being able to be around other people at all,” he said.

Collaborating with other artists often helps Terfry discover himself, he said.

“I like to be surprised and when I surprise myself, it’s the very best. And sometimes that requires a little help.”

Terfry tends to surprise other people with his dance moves, deemed “spazz dancing” on his Facebook fan page.

“The music just seems to take control of me,” he said. “I don’t know what it looks like. I don’t want to know. I’d probably be embarrassed.”

Terfry was supposed to attend last year’s Wolfe Island Music Festival in August, but had to cancel for a personal emergency.

“I was in too terrible a place in my life to be concerned about much else at that time,” he said. “I was in crisis.”

But Buck 65 is back in Kingston for two shows and according to his website, he won’t be stopping anytime soon — with or without an audience, just like it all began.

Buck 65 plays the Grad Club tonight and tomorrow night at the Grad Club. Doors open at 9 p.m. and the show starts at 10 p.m.

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