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Buck 65

Buck 65 (a.k.a. Richard Terfry), the Canadian hip-hop artist whose talent is more substantial than his loose-change moniker might indicate, on Tuesday releases his latest album, 20 Odd Years, a reference to an offbeat two-decade career. He speaks about his other job (as a CBC Radio 2 host) and the process of making an album with the Tragically Hip's Gord Downie and others.

I once saw you identified as 'Richard Terfry, better known as Buck 65.' Now that you've hosted CBC's Radio 2 Drive as Rich Terfry for more than two years, under which name do your fans know you best?

I suppose in this country I probably am becoming better known by my given name. If you were to take the rest of the world into account, I probably still would be better known as Buck 65.

Did the radio job have an effect on the making of the album?

It's really a case of wearing different hats. The only area of where they cross is when I'm walking to work and back. It's quite good for me. It's safe to say that at least 95 per cent of the ideas that went into this record probably came from that time spent walking to and from work every day.

You worked with a number of singers on this album. Was it a true collaboration?

It varied. In some cases it was absolutely like, 'Look, I've got this part for you, and I really just need your voice here.' But in some cases, it was a much deeper collaboration.

How did it work with Gord Downie?

I did already have the piece of music completely written. But when it came time to figure out what we were going to say, we really had some long and rather philosophical conversations. It was really important to him that it made sense that there were two voices. 'So what's the relationship between these two voices? What do they have to say to one another?'

Was the process with him what you expected?

It was exactly what I'd hoped it would be like. I've always been a fan of his use of words, and I always imagined that it came from a really deep place. I got to go there myself, and see it up close.

How did the trippy cover of Leonard Cohen's Who By Fire with Jenn Grant come about?

I told Jenn basically that I was looking to do the most faithful cover I could. Beyond that there weren't any other instructions. So all these other amazing parts and harmonies that she was doing was just her doing what she does naturally. She's the most beautiful songbird that can't possibly be caged.

You've said of Tears of Your Heart , sung with Olivia Ruiz, that neither of you have any memory of making it. Is that the goal, to be so unconscious as to what you're producing?

I think that's exactly it. It's like you enter a dreamlike state, and that if you can preserve it somehow and still be wandering that way by the time you get to the studio, that's the ideal. How do you keep that lightning in a bottle when you go into the laboratory? It's almost impossible to do.

This interview has been condensed and edited.