“Collie Buddz ”

 |  April 3, 2007

By Kevin L. Clark

      You may not see your favorite reggae-soca artist on television, but New Orleans born, Colin Harper is set to change that. Raised on the isle of Bermuda, with stays in urban Toronto, Buddz grounded voice is inspired by some of the most influential artists of the day – Buju Banton, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man.


      Incorporating hip-hop, reggae and soca, Collie’s music has the ability to connect the listener to a realistic urban reality with the loftiest expectations of human aspiration. Coming up during the Reagan Era, Collie has been immersed in the sound and culture of Bermuda since the age of six. Despite his physical appearance, “Come Around,” is burning up New York radio stations and was recently added to BET’s “Rap City” daily playlist.


      He may not be your favorite reggae-soca artist, yet, but in this interview with Collie Buddz – he wants to prove to you why he’s the next to listen to, why skin color doesn’t matter and explains why his movement is such an important musical journey.


HHC: You lived all over the place. From New Orleans to Bermuda to Toronto, you’ve taken in a varying degree of sounds. So, who are your influences and what has been the one thing that you’ve learned from them?


CB: Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Barrington Levy and Bounty Killer are my influences and they’re a big part of my growing up. The sound clashes with Kilimanjaro were inspiring. Everyday I went to the store and got those tapes. Bermuda is all reggae and hip-hop, I never really strayed from there. Reggae music is all I know since I was young till now. My first introduction to hip-hop was when the Fugee’s album drop. It was huge here in Bermuda.


HHC: Bermuda is an interesting place to be from. But there’s a side to it that is not rarely scene from a tourist aspect. So, what is the “other side” of “The Rock” like?


CB: Bermuda in general is a nice place. It’s clean, not a lot of poverty. It’s a very rich country. There are some other sides to the island that the tourists don’t see, though. We’ve had drive-bys and it’s sad to see that one a small piece of paradise that people have beef with one another. It’s kind of sad to see that. You have to live there to truly experience it, though.


HHC: The single “Come Around” has been big in New York for awhile and the video just got placement on BET’s “Rap City.” Has anyone of these things changed people’s opinions of you or your music?


CB: I’m not sure about that really. The people who’ve been down from jump definitely know what time it is. A lot of people were hating on me at first, but now they’re kind of liking it now. It’s excellent exposure to have. For me to be on BET and MTV is ill. Even in Europe, it gives me a great look internationally. A lot of people are just now starting to get into it.


HHC: Speaking of opinions – what have been the negative things that people have said about you since beginning your music career?


CB: It’s a bunch of things. They say, “Oh, he’s born in America…” or “He’s White!” “He’s a gimmick. He’s another Snow!” This is not to say that he [Snow] was bad, but people hated on me. It’s a good thing… I love it. If you don’t have haters then you’re not doing anything right. They say that my music is false and that I’m from Bermuda and what do Bermudians know about Reggae music. I just look at it and smile, because I’m going to let the music talk for itself.


HHC:Some people still have the bad taste of Snow in their ears. So, there have been no comparisons to him?


CB: I’m not really sure that I would compare myself to anyone. I’d leave that to the fans. My thing from the jump is to be looked as a respected artist within the industry. I am here to do big things. I’m not sure that I can compare myself to anyone. My style is original, although I have been compared to Sean Paul. But I’m not sure if it’s because of his voice or skin tone, but I definitely have some influences where the melodies are similar. But I know that I am a versatile artist. I’ll let the people compare.


HHC: You have a song on the album called, “My Everything” that is built around the horns used in David Bowie’s, “Let’s Dance.” What does your songwriting process consist of?


CB: That joint right there is the one that had got me signed. I wasn’t really feeling the beat. It was a test from Sony. They gave me the opportunity to get signed. I wrote something good on the riddim. I knew that that song had to be something that people understood. But usually when I’m working on the album, the melody comes first. I strongly believe that a good melody is a key foundation for a great record. I’ll be listening to a riddim and I’ll come up with a melody. Once I got that then I’ll start writing. It could take anywhere from a day to three weeks. I like to work on stuff, like a hook or something, then I’ll let it sit for a minute then come back to it. I have even gone longer than that. I wrote “Come Around” in about a day…


HHC: How would you say that you’ve grown since you first hit the booth at 16 to now?


CB: Oh, mercy… I’ve grown so much. Lyrically and voice wise, it sounds so much different than when it was before I got signed. The creative aspect is far easier now. People know that you have to work on it constantly, but as far as my lyrics and style, they’ve evolved a long way. I still have a lot to work on. But I have grown in the last three years. I’d have to say, I remember seeing my brother playing some dubs for some people. Seeing him and the reaction he got made me think that maybe I could do that, too. It was just something that happened right there that was inspirational. I knew from then on that that’s what I wanted to do.


HHC: What have you learned from the history of this music and what do you think you can contribute to it?


CB: That’s a good question. History always repeats itself, you know, I just look forward to the future. I really want to see Reggae on a higher level. I’d like to see it up there with where hip-hop is at. I would love to see the Reggae category filmed and aired during the Grammy’s, to where we see our artists on television representing our culture. I’d love for the people who don’t understand what the artists are saying on the tracks to learn more about patois and to understand what we’re contributing to the world.