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Buck 65 on How Big Ego Fuels Creativity

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Buck 65 (aka Richard Terfy) is one of the most prolific musicians in Canada, and this past month he performed to a packed house during an eclectic show at Toronto's Summerworks Festival. He charmed, he danced, he sang, he rapped; he narrated stories of his affairs, travels, and woes. Summerworks described the affair as one of "strange and beautiful faces, mirrors and ghosts and obstructions."

Needless to say it was a night of eccentricity. Whether it was listening to his story of losing a wife in Paris, to watching an entire auditorium fill with paper airplanes (for the aptly named "Paper Airplanes") or listening to new experimental tracks accompanied by a dance troupe, it was a unique showcase of a conceptual hip-hop artist's work.

I got a chance to catch up with Buck 65 post show to tell us how after 20 years of being a veteran musician he still gets nervous, and describes how his ego allows him to be creative.

How's the adrenaline level after a show like this?

Yeah, kinda always, right after a show. Probably not in the most ideal of ideal worlds the best time to talk to me, because I'm a half crazy person right now because there is a lot of ADRENALINE, makes it almost difficult to think straight and wind down. Often I'll be touring and it's common for me to talk to whoever wants to talk after a show, and then you pack up all your gear, and you gotta travel to where you're going, and get to your hotel, and even when you get there it usually takes about an hour to calm down.

Do you still get nervous before a show?

Yes, for something like this where it was a first time thing, and there was so much going on. I don't normally get nervous, but there were so many things happening creating so much potential for things to go wrong, and there was adrenaline, and now because it happened and it worked, there's a giant sense of relief.

You described your show as an experiment in "self-indulgence." Can you tell me what that means?

When it comes to ego and creativity, the snake starts to eat it's own tale. A few years ago I started a vanity project in my house that I wasn't going to sell or distribute. Then one day I got an email from a friend who helped out with one of the songs, and he asked if he could share it. It was interesting to see it spread fast all around the world, because that reaction was stronger than almost anything I had ever done.

So your ego allows you to be creative?

What I realized was that, in a way that's what people kind of want. Something real and honest, where you're not thinking too much about anything else, and you're expressing yourself. These songs were personal and unedited. When I realized I was being completely self-indulgent was when the audience was responding stronger than usual. Tonight was another experiment with that. And a lot of those songs that I performed tonight were from that album that I worked on at home. It's a weird and complex thing, of how do you deal with your ego, but in this case it helped with creativity.

Buck 65's latest album is 20 Odd Years, and will have additional EP's released in September. He's also the host of CBC Radio 2's Drive during the day.