Collie Buddz just might be to reggae/dancehall what Eminem was to the world of Hip-Hop those many years ago a snowball building momentum, preparing to avalanche this crazy world that is music.
Born Colin Harper in New Orleans, Louisiana, this future reggae sensation later moved to the island of Bermuda at the age of five. It was here that he hit his head on The Rock, the cultural soundstage of Bermuda. Later influenced by the likes of Buju Banton and Beenie Man, Buddz honed his skills engaging in lyrical clashes with local artists. His love of music later led him to pursue an audio engineering degree at Floridas Fulsail.
After master piecing sounds for other artists, Buddz eventually got the artist bug. Fast forward to 2007. Collie Buddz relative anonymity in the United States and all over the world was forever ended with the smashing success of his hit Come Around. In a genre where his counterparts are just a little bit darker than he is, and few see massive success, this sing jay is earning his respect like he is earning his fans .one hit record at a time.
AHHA: So for those that dont know you, could tell us a bit about yourself. You were born in New Orleans, correct?
Collie Buddz: Yeah, New Orleans. Raised in Bermuda.
AHHA: How old were you when you moved to Bermuda.
Collie Buddz: Around the age of five.
AHHA: What stimulated that move?
Collie Buddz: Well, my pops passed away when I was four. My moms is from Bermuda. My pops is from Chicago. My moms wanted to raise me and my brother back at her home.
AHHA: So Bermuda was where you got into music?
Collie Buddz: Yeah definitely, since we got there. I mean just going to school, just the whole environment it was all reggae. That was the only music I knew up until 15 or 16, and I got introduced to Hip-Hop and everything. I mean, [Hip-Hop] was always around, but I was like straight reggae.
AHHA: Back in Bermuda, what do think was like the turning point to you. That moment when you were just like, This is what I want to do and nothing else?
Collie Buddz: I dont know that there was really a turning point. It was just something I just sort of gradually got better at, and something I just sort of fell into after high school. It was all a fun thing from young. I remember coming home from school in even primary school. I would come down my yard and chat lyrics over an instrumental or whatever. Then after high school I wanted to take it to another level, so I went down to Fulsail, which is a media arts school in Florida and graduated with an Associates of Science in Recording Engineering.
Then I started recording myself. I knew how to work my way around the studio and everything. So I just started producing some riddims. You know, I really wanted to be on the production side of things. I never really thought I was capable of keeping the artist head for the rest of me career. As I started making these riddims and getting some artists to voice on it, it never really came out like how I wanted it to. So I decided to jump back in the booth and just stuck with it, and boom the rest is pretty much history.
AHHA: I guess Im curious as to your influences, because for the most part, when people think reggae and that whole sound, they more so think Jamaica than they would think Bermuda. So I guess if you could speak on what music was playing in Bermuda during that time. Do they have a separate style thats different than people are used to hearing?
A lot of people dont know, but Bermuda was one of the first islands to really embrace reggae music from back in the day even moreso than some other parts of the Caribbean. So I mean, it was huge. When I was growing up, it was the only music. We have sound systems come in and clash yam sayin? They would bring artists in, and my thing was session tapes you know, like Kilimanjaro was my sound system. Every day after high school, we would go to the record store and then pick up a new session tape and listen to that there. That was a big influence in where I am now, but its not really so much different than Jamaica talkin more directly [about] reggae music.
AHHA: And you mentioned Hip Hop like is there a really large Hip-Hop influence on the music thats in Bermuda?
Collie Buddz: Definitely nowadays. Maybe it was big back in the day too, but reggae that was all I knew. Dancehall thats all I knew. Were close to New York, close to Miami, close to the States, so we get a lot of influence from New York even as far as dress and clothing and what not. Hip-Hop is huge down there now. Same level reggae and Hip-Hop,thats pretty much the only music down there.
AHHA: Who are some artists you came up listening to who kind of influenced you then and now?
Collie Buddz: The list would be long! [laughs]
AHHA: Just a couple if you could
Collie Buddz: Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Spragga, Buju, Mad Cobra, Barrington Levy, Sizzla…this can go on and on and on, but them are the main ones.
AHHA: Would you say any Hip-Hop artists influenced you as well?
Collie Buddz: Not even, cause I didnt even really get into Hip-Hop til I went to the engineering school down in Florida. Not too much reggae on mainstream radio down there. So thats when I started getting into Hip-Hop. I didnt even really know who Biggie was or Tupac back in the day.
You know, a lot of reggae artist use [Biggie and Tupacs] lyrics in their songs and made it like sound original. So I never knew until someone introduced me to Biggie, and I was listening and I was like, Yo! Did Biggie steal that from Elephant Man, or whatever, but it was the other way around. Thats how much I knew about Hip-Hop.
AHHA: Lets talk about your smash hit Come Around, which is crazy in New York obviously. When you were recording it, did you imagine it would be as big as it was?
Collie Buddz: Nah, see when I was recording that tune, I had just got back from Bermuda. My studio was in Toronto at the time. It was like early 2006 that I recorded the tune, and when I was recording it, I just actually, the whole process at the beginning of the album was I was just making songs for Bermuda. You know to make it big in Bermuda, to get them played on mainstream radio down in Bermuda.
To see it reach this far is crazy. I mean when it started bussing out in Europe, thats when I was like whoa this is crazy, cause you know the song, the basis of the song, a lot of people can relate to it. The whole song is about Bermuda at certain times of the year. We get droughts very bad.
AHHA: If you could talk a little bit about the album, coming out July 3rd?
Collie Buddz: Yeah July 3rd.
AHHA: What can people expect from the album?
Collie Buddz: A nice little mix of everything. Got some Hip-Hop, got some dancehall, little bit of calypso. Some production by Steve McGregor, whos a real young talented producer from Jamaica. Tony Kelly did some work; Screwface from VA. Yeah man a nice mix of everything.
AHHA: What do you think makes you different than any other reggae artists out there? Do you think anything makes you different?
Being raised in Bermuda, definitely. If I was in Jamaic,a Id probably have a totally different style. When I started recording. I wanted to put at least a little bit of Bermudian flavor in there without taking away from the authentics of reggae. Some of the slang I use is Bermudian. The styles a little different. You know when I first started, I was emulating a lot of the artists copying them, their styles, you know just to do it if I could do it, then I was gonna run it.
Thats basically how I learned to come up with my own style. Like as time went on, I figured out which notes I could hit, workin’ out the voice and then the lyrics and of course patois, yam sayin’. Thats how I come from Bermuda like talking like this here, than all of a sudden start talking patois.
AHHA: In general how do you feel as far as the reggae community, or just in general as an artist, youve been received. Because youre in an arena where the other artists dont look like you. How would you say youve been received from the most part?
For the most part, I think Ive been received pretty well. From Come Around, a lot of people heard the tune before they saw the video. So I mean they couldnt judge nothing. So all of a sudden when people started seeing the video, then all of a sudden there was some controversy there. But um, its all about making good music. If you can make good music, then enjoy listening to the tunes then why does that even matter?
AHHA: Lastly for those who dont know, who is Collie Buddz? Where did that name come from? How did you pick that?
Collie Buddz: The name, well I had that name from when I can remember. It just used to be Collie cause my name is Colin. My mom used to call me Collie. Then it was around 11/12 and my brother started up a sound system, we were just thinking up names. We just came up with Collie Buddz. Just put Buddz on the end of it. Ain’t no interesting story about that. Its just been my name for a long time.