The Universal is in the Personal

Twenty years and still going strong can tell you a lot about an artist. It tells you that he is driven, a master of his craft. It also shows that music is not just a profession for him, but a lifestyle. If you’ve ever listened to Richard Terfry, a.k.a. Buck 65, you’d never guess that the 42-year-old Canadian rapper, producer, and DJ is a self-proclaimed introvert. On the surface Terfry exudes the demeanor of a confident artist. Behind the scenes, Pop Counter Culture was introduced to a soft-spoken, graceful and articulate wordsmith.

Like most ambitions, Terfry’s musical journey began early on in childhood. As a timid kid, he sought music as a place of comfort and refuge. Terfry recalls, “I was drawn to music in the first place as an introvert. It was a real sort of introverted pursuit for me, and I was always a very shy kid. I wasn’t a social kind of creature, so I lived a solitary existence.” The flip side of following musical goals, explains Terfry, is that if you get good at it and it gets peoples’ attention, you get catapulted into the spotlight. All of a sudden, the tables are turned and you are on “an extrovert’s mission.”

Terfry’s latest mission was an extremely personal one. His new album, Neverlove, was born out of the separation and subsequent divorce of Terfry from his now ex-wife. During this time, Terfry described having such a hard time coping that he went as far as seeking out professional help. Unsatisfied with the help he received, Terfry turned to writing. Writing he says, was the only way he was able to calm himself from the chaos. Eventually, all that writing manifested itself into an album. The record was brought to life under dire circumstances, which in hindsight shouldn’t be all that surprising considering Terfry’s penchant for anchoring his pain and turning it into a creative outlet.

In 1999, after the death of Terfry’s mother, Terfry channeled his distress into writing and music. The result was a track called “Ice”. Despite some reluctance at even releasing the track for fear of criticism, Terfry did release it as a gesture to the family. Interestingly enough, Terfry admits that to his absolute shock, it was the first time he’d gotten an impactful response from listeners. He recalls, “That was the big eye opener. When I figured out what my guiding light was, which was that the key to success for me was just to be honest about my own experiences, and that’s how you reach people. And I learned about that adage that exists, that the universal is in the personal.”

Despite some of his more gloomy material, Terfry also has a playful side that shines especially bright on the new single, Super Pretty Naughty. More akin to a single LMFAO might be expected to release, the new track and video is like a game of hip-hop stereotype I Spy. The track initially took shape out of a creative challenge to try to penetrate a type of music that Terfry claims, he never really understood. Terfry began constructing the track by asking a close friend to list all the things she likes about mainstream hits. Terfry recalls, “I actually broke out a pen and paper and wrote down everything she said. It was about a dozen things and so there was a part of me that wanted to make a song I know she would like because she’s someone I like…I had two motives, one, to impress this girl and two, to make myself laugh, which is the lyrics I wrote. It’s very absurd.”

Terfry’s mastery over a topic no matter how seemingly trivial shows his versatility and his discipline for self-directed study and research. Having spent six years living in France, Terfry found that a language barrier inhibited his connection with audiences. He went to work finding alternative ways to perfect his performances based on the type of audience he was performing for. During this period, Terfry recalls extensive research into performers and artists with whom France embraced like Charlie Chaplin and Egon Schiele. This exercise has now become a routine way for Terfry to prepare for shows.

Having consistently released new music every year or two for the past two decades, it is easy to take Terfry’s presence in the music industry for granted. Terfry has spectacularly navigated his career to eloquently share with listeners his thoughts, and on some level, his life. Most importantly, Terfry has kept fans interested and wanting. That is by far the best indicator of his continued success.

 

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