Interview: Collie Buddz Talks New Album ‘Take It Easy,’ Mental Health, Ganja Advocacy And Creative Freedom

There’s a serene yet celebratory essence that encircles Bermudian reggae artist Collie Buddz.

Indeed, his fourth studio album Take It Easy was released today, but he’s also undulating in sagacity by catering to his psychological well-being.

“In order to function properly, our minds have to be strong and in the right place,” Buddz told DancehallMag. “To keep ourselves positive and balanced, taking some time for ourselves is the key. With this album, I wanted to remind everyone that it is totally okay to do so. Put on your favourite tunes, spend time with those you love, and don’t let the negativity overwhelm and overpower your thoughts. You only got one life to live, so, stay high, stay blessed and make the best of it.”

The 12-track feel-good project packs affirming anthems to keep you moving forward. Buddz strikes a balance with toasts to the benefits of ganja, and serenades to his ladylove (cues the reassuring one-drop sweetness of You Around and the sexy innuendoes of Close To You).

Take It Easy also features collaborations like Twisted Agenda with Bounty Killer, a note on riding for your loved ones in a corrupt system; the reggae-rock-infused Trap Set with Demarco, a testimony of rising above plots against your downfall; the refreshing message of getting your Money Up legally and morally with Keznamdi; and the afrobeats bounce of Collision with Danny Towers, which takes it back to romantic relationships.

A true (art)tist, Buddz produced most of the songs on the project, alongside his trusted collaborator J Vibe, with the help of his esteemed band. The reggae star caught up with DancehallMag to talk about the album, four years after his last set, Hybrid, was released to commercial and critical acclaim

How are you feeling with the album being released?

I feel excited, of course. When I see how excited my fans are about the release, I get even more amped up about it, but also a bit anxious. Creating/releasing an album is an emotional process and I really put my all into it. Mainly though, I feel blessed to continue my musical journey and grateful to my fans for the endless support.

How long was the creative and recording process for Take It Easy?

The creative and recording process took about 3.5 years. I know it seems like a long time, especially nowadays, but you can’t rush the creative process. One of my biggest aspirations is to continue to make quality records that are timeless. I don’t ever just want to release music for the sake of having something out there. Plus, with our heavy touring schedule, sometimes it’s hard to find the groove. I had a lot of fun during this whole process and good news is, I am already working on my next one!

I feel like there are some staple themes on any full-length project you do, one of which is ganja. But it’s never merely a song about getting high. On High Grade, for instance, you touch on the legal fight of the herb, and then toast to its healing properties on No Bush Weed (featuring B-Real). Why was it important to keep these messages alive on this album?

Believe it or not, I’ve never actually sat down and said, okay, I’m now gonna write a ganja tune. It’s always just happened naturally from how the riddim makes me feel and how the song develops. The acceptance of marijuana in today’s society has come along way, but it has not always been that way and we not fully there yet. People still locked up today all over the world and that is crazy to me. We still have a lot of work to do in that regard and I am proud to keep spreading the message of legalization. For me, it’s not just about getting high (especially as I get older). The healing properties of the herb are real for both physical and mental ailments. Plus, it’s a natural solution as opposed to the chemical and pharmaceuticals that are forced on us. If utilized responsibly and appropriately, ganja is one of Earth’s biggest treasurers and I’m gonna continue to spread its good word. 

The official album artwork for ‘Take It Easy’

The album also packs positive affirmations across songs like the title track, Brighter Days and Hold Firm. In listening to these songs, I feel uplifted, but I also can’t shake the feeling that they are uplifting for you too. Is your music cathartic for you?

Music has always been very therapeutic for me – both creating and listening to it. It’s an outlet to express myself and process things happening in my life and in the world. Brighter Days was right around the time that the pandemic was kicking in and the world’s feeling of depression weighed heavily on me. I believe a huge part of that was just being isolated from one another. As an artist, I write about what I see around me. I feel the responsibility to inspire unity and provide an outlet for us to process together. Music has the power to help us overcome almost anything because it directly impacts our mood and thought process. 

The title track is among the uplifting records on the album

I recall you sharing how precious it was working on Take It Easy, from being hands-on in the creative process to working with musicians who understand your vision. Is there a particular standout you can share from curating this album?

For me, the biggest stand out from this body of work is creative freedom. Looking back, I gotta say I really enjoyed the entire process. I got to do it my way without the feeling of pressure. I got to work with some of my favorite musicians and artists. I really enjoyed working with my band on a lot of these riddims. Touring and sharing the stage together has built a huge bond amongst us and that chemistry carries over into the studio. Might seem like half those sessions was jokes, but these guys are world class musicians and everyone puts in the work.

A glimpse into a studio session with Collie Buddz

You’ve collaborated with Demarco and B Real before, whereas you’ve toured with Keznamdi. How did you determine who would complement the songs, and by extension, the essence of the album?

I enjoy working with other artists and collaborating on music. Each collaboration happens organically and has a unique story. For Trap Set, I felt like the song was missing something but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. We were on tour in Atlanta and I invited Demarco to come out and jump on stage with us. After the show, I played the song for him to get his feedback. Being the creative genius that he is, he immediately started vibing to it and actually wrote and recorded his verse right then on the tour bus! 

What would you say is the primary difference between Take it Easy and your last album, Hybrid?

Each album is unique and completely different. For Hybrid, I was more isolated and determined to produce the whole thing myself. For Take It Easy, the creation of the riddims was a much more collaborative effort. Most of Hybrid I made in my studio in Oakland, California, while with Take It Easy, we set up multiple writing/recording sessions in places like Hawaii and made over 40 songs to choose from.

What are your hopes for it?

My hopes are that everyone loves it (of course). But more importantly, I hope that it provides a significant meaning of substance to anyone that listens to it. I am overwhelmed by the messages I get daily about how my music helps people get through difficult times in their lives. I hope this album continues to do so and, even if briefly, provides some sort of relief for anyone in grief. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share that I didn’t ask?

I want to thank everyone again for supporting me and my music and can’t wait to see you all out on the road!

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