In a career that has spanned two plus decades, indie rap icon Buck 65 has dabbled in numerous musical realms but always wound up with something undeniably original. On his new record 20 Odd Years, the Nova Scotia-raised emcee has stretched the boundaries even further while enlisting the help of vocalists such as Jenn Grant and Gord Downie en route to concocting a truly beautiful folk-hop gem. I caught up with Buck to discuss the new album, Canadian junk food and x-rated French cinema.
URB: How has life changed since you became a radio host for CBC? Does the gig prevent you from touring as extensively as you once did?
Buck 65: Yeah, I can’t tour like I used to. Used to be, I’d put out a record and tour for 18 months. You can’t really do that with a regular sort of job. So I just need to be much more strategic when it comes to touring. And I get away for the weekend quite often. It has its pluses and minuses. I think having more rigid structure in my life is good for me. And the job takes some of the pressures off in terms of making a living. And that has been very freeing, creatively.
Your music draws influence from Ginsberg and the Beat Generation and literature in general. Which modern day writers speak to you?
Hmm. Modern? I don’t read a whole lot of modern stuff. I kinda like Nick Cave’s stuff, actually. And I’m pretty excited about Patti Smith as a novelist. But most of the modern stuff I read is non-fiction. I read the best book I’ve ever read in my life in the last year. It’s called You Can’t Win and it was written by a guy named Jack Black (not that Jack Black). In the last two or three years, I’ve finally begun to feel almost totally influence-free. That’s the goal.
I saw that there was a contest recently where fans could suggest their fantasy Buck 65 collaboration. What is your fantasy Buck 65 collaboration?
I guess it would probably be to write a song with Townes Van Zandt. Or Skip James. Trying to think if there’s someone still alive I’d really like to work with… maybe Superlover Cee. He’s still around. Maybe I should try to hook that up! But then again, I tend to abide by that “never meet your heroes” code.
A central theme of the new record 20 Odd Years is your relationship with your wife. How did you guys meet? What does she do for a living?
I don’t remember the first time we met. She tells me we said hello after a show in Portland (OR) once. She’s a hardcore lifer student-type. An academic. She’ll probably be in school forever. She studies film and art history. She’ll start writing books soon, I’m sure. We’ve written a few songs together. There’s a bunch of stuff we wrote together on the Dirtbike stuff.
I was recently in a long distance relationship with a girl from Toronto who hipped me to the wisdom of Cadbury dairy milk bars and poutine amongst other things. What other Canadian delicacies are the world missing out on?
Ooh… let’s see… actually, poutine is one of the only uniquely Canadian things I can think of. But we put a Canadian twist on a lot of things. In my home town of Halifax, there’s this thing called the donair. It’s the dirtiest thing you can possibly eat. But it’s so good. I think it’s illegal to eat it during daylight hours. A friend of mine once described the sauce as “more semen-like than semen itself!” But don’t let that scare you off.