Following the successful release of his debut track Madness earlier this week,Leeds born and raised artist Calio Franks, more commonly known as Black Buddha reveals all in an exclusive interview about his life as a young artist in the rap scene and how the music video came to life.
Words: Natasha Boorer / Photos: Class By Nature – Jack Gibson & Christopher Gribbin
Now 21, Franks entered the music scene at the age of 18 “The first song I wrote was called Waves and it was recorded in my friends shed, I was so afraid of rapping and I used to perform with an American accent and so my friend taught me how to not rap with an accent and build my confidence as an artist”
Shortly after entering the music scene Franks established himself under the name of Black Buddha “I came up with the name Black Buddha as I used to have a Buddha belly when I was younger, I also used to study philosophy and I’ve always been interested in Buddhism, My black heritage plays a part as well”
Currently, Buddha is not signed to a record label and has no interest in being signed, all his music is created and edited at his home studio in Leeds. “I’m not signed to a label and don’t want to be, all labels do is suck you dry and take all your money. They are also very controlling and don’t allow you to do what you want creatively and I want to be able to express myself through the music I make, it isn’t all about the money”
Buddha not only records his music at home but he also mixes and masters them which is not uncommon in the industry. Many artists now choose to do this over renting a studio space for both creative freedom and convenience “Being able to record my music in my own time and in space is great as I am able to alter the track to how I like without having someone mess with my work”
The genre of Buddha’s music is ‘mumble rap’ which originates from a new wave of American hip-hop and is heavily influenced by street culture with most lyrical content being random and making little sense. One section in the track Madness features Buddha pictured on screen eating a stack of biscuits whilst rapping‘Catch me in the spot eating all the biscuits’
“I wrote Madness in like 15 minutes” he says “I found the beat and thought the beat was madness in itself so I recorded the track, stuck it all together and it became known as Madness. I sent the finished track to Jack and Christopher at CLASS BY NATURE, said we should make a music video for it and then we made a fucking movie” says Buddha “I had absolutely no idea how I wanted the video to look, I had no ideas as to how the video would come to life.”
The minds behind the video are Manchester based creators Jack Gibson and Christopher Gribbin who both previously worked for one of the largest social media pages in the world, UNILAD. Since starting their business CLASS BY NATURE in October 2018, they have had the opportunity to work with the likes of Aitch, Just Banco and Meeks on various videos and documentaries.
“The set up for Madness is an abandoned sewing factory in Huddersfield” says Jack “I got a few friends to head down and check it out beforehand, make sure it was relatively accessible and then we set a date for filming. The location is a reflection on the track, it is quite literally madness. With the music industry videos have to be different in order to stand out and I feel like the abandoned factory was the perfect setting for this”
“My set up is a Canon 5DMK4 and a Ronin S, which is a tripod, however, for this video we wanted it to be more handheld and shaky. We started filming at 2pm, finished at half 4 and then it was fully edited and finished that night. Our pace definitely sets us apart from other creators in the industry” Jack says.
The director for the video – Christopher Gribbin, has also worked with various artists over his time at both UNILAD and CLASS BY NATURE and has won various awards for his work “The most important thing about directing is expressing yourself and working with the artist. With regards to Buddha’s video, it was something inspired by watching various other creators on the scene and how they structure the video. Going into the shoot I knew exactly how I wanted the video to look and exactly what he wanted too”
“The project with Buddha was full of passion as not only do we get on well but we’re all on the same wave. Buddha’s video just shows that you don’t need a budget to make great things.” Says Chris.
Since releasing Madness earlier this week it has peaked over 3K views on Instagram and 2K views on YouTube, it has also opened up many exciting opportunities for Buddha.
“People have reacted so positively about the release. I’ve been approached by a lot of people about performing shows and it’s being played everywhere, I’m so happy with how the video turned out and am looking forward to the next few months. In the next year I see myself being rich as f**k with big chains. I work so hard with my music and it will definitely pay off. I’ve just gotta keep moving forward and focus on creating new music”