Welcome to the third edition of the IMF Artist Profile, a series dedicated to the Indie Music Feedback community. The goal of this series is to take a look at the personal lives of some of IMF’s biggest contributors, giving you a peek into who they are as human beings. We’ll pull back the curtain as far as our guests allow and hopefully we will all walk away with a better understanding of the music these individuals are creating as we learn more about them.
If you’re reading this then the chances that you already know of Buddog are high. Very high. Buddog, spelled with a capital Weird, is one of the most prolific artists in the IMF Community. I would also hazard a guess and say that he is the most experimental. Buddog’s tracks are rarely a structured creation or a byproduct of the industry like so many other producers. Instead, he forms vast landscapes of sound and sense. He crafts a parallel universe to the one we live in now and asks you to step inside with him. It may take you a while to grasp what this producer is really doing here, but the folks who have been listening know what it is…Buddog is defining himself in realtime. As a musician who is purely focused on developing his own sound and style, his constant revisions and attempts are self-evident as he courageously pushes forward. He might just be the hardest working guy on IMF as well. But what do we really know of this mysterious and creative creature? Let’s find out…
Born as Thomas F. in New Jersey, PA, Buddog is single and although he was recently engaged for about 2 years, he has never married. As you are about to read, Buddog has had a very challenging life so far. Not only has he overcome many obstacles put in front of him, but he has grown to embrace the challenges and to channel them into his music, which makes up a good portion of his daily routine. Buddog recently ended his engagement but seems positive about the future. Thomas also made a point to identify himself to me as 75% straight, while the rest is somewhat undecided. Personally, I find Buddog’s courage and unabashed ability to be who he wants to be absolutely inspiring. He isn’t here to please you, or me. Buddog is here to be Buddog, and there is nothing more courageous than being yourself.
Now onto the questions:
Baaz: One of the things I admire most about you is that you are always revising old work while consistently creating something new and pushing it out there to get as much feedback as you possibly can. What about the process of production do you most enjoy, and which part is the most frustrating?
BUDDOG: I really love doing exactly that, applying the feedback, interacting with …shudder… Do I call you fans? Are you fans of me? Feels weird, Anyway interacting with *the mudbuds* *the Boodieboodies* *the puppers* << that one, Interacting with the Puppers is the best part and I LOVE a challenge in music but not always doing as I am asked, once or twice I have had to let someone know, “hey uh, this just won’t work”. For example, TrexJones sent a sample and I tried and tried to remix it but… it was too harsh. But man Trex, He took it like a champ and shot me back these CRAZY drums, I can’t stop using them, they are in… 3? I think 3 tracks now, haha.
Also, I strongly prefer analog things, buttons, knobs, switches, and levers. Miss me with that Ableton for now.
Baaz: How did you come by your theremin?
BUDDOG: Well, I just modded the heck out of a prebuilt one. Haha. BUT there is a story. OH, and it was my FIRST Buddog instrument. I played it right out of the box a bit after 3 pm October 9th, 2019. I played it for the one neighbor who actually showed up on Halloween in 2019. I made the thing propping it up. Not the parts inside. Also, I did it with hot glue and scrap for fun, I COULD have bought the stand but NAAAHH I decided “screw it, get the hot glue! OH SNAP it fell? MORE GLUE!!!!”
And now it stays put…or I get the glue again…
Baaz: Why Buddog?
BUDDOG: Well add an 18, this is my UN-lucky number. At 18 months old I got splashed with hot water in a cooking accident by my mother, NO FAULT of anyone, just really bad luck. At 8 years and 10 months old I fell off a hammock tied to monkey bars on the back yard playground and broke my right wrist. Between the ages of 12–16 years old (also involving 1’s, 10’s, and 8’s) I broke my knee, broke my nose, got in fistfights causing my lack of teeth… BUT I got that Social Security Disability status as well.
At 18 years old I went to adult County Lockup. Then, in 2018 I lost custody of my dog, Buddy. Thus, I lost my Buddy dog, my Buddog, in 2018…How? It was not really all that crazy, just your typical, homeless living in bed bug-ridden hotels, all of everything I own fits in one storage locker story… That went on for about 2 years, yah know the boring bit where Buddy was the only warmth I got some nights…Then my landlady says: You can keep the apartment you just got approved for OR the dog. Not both…So I had to give him up.
The good news is Buddy is alive! He has great new owners who love him a ton! I just have ZERO custody…
Baaz: From my perspective, most of your music is truly experimental. Some of what you create is very chaotic and dissonant. At times, I feel pretty strong emotions like anxiety and fear when I listen to these types of tracks. That has to be on purpose because you’re very good at it, so my question to you is why? What drives you to create this style of music? Do you expect that outcome on your listeners or is that a byproduct?
BUDDOG: Well, yes…I mean honestly, you nailed the What, now let me try to explain the Why. For me it is mainly catharsis, the rush you feel when you scream, “FUCK IT” and let that black go into your blood, sometimes called the “Bruce Banner effect” or “Hulking out”, the feeling of “HULK SMASH”. But you’re not actually smashing anything… I hope not at least. It’s all in your head, like watching a scary movie…or when you feel pumped because the hero kicks that alien’s ASS! Hell yeah! Get the shotgun! GET TO DA CHOPPA!
You are safe, you always were safe, you were in control, yet somehow you never had anything other than the stop button, or ripping the headphones off, or leaving the room.
These experiences vary WILDLY from person to person. Some people need GWAR where it is a mosh pit with (mostly) fake blood and spit and guts tossed on you while these ancient alien demons stomp around. Others prefer MERZBOW or Stockhausen or Jon Cage and just walls of static, noise, or even the sound of meticulously timed tea kettles. Yet others STILL almost 200 years later are scared shitless by Beethoven. So that is why some tracks are the length of 3 entire monster CDs. Which do come on physical CDs if you ask me for them! Others are more like “Buddog Trials”, a pretty mellow 4-minute pop ballad with lyrics about Minecraft.
We all experience catharsis: some take it in pills, some are seeking thrills, some roll the dice, while some drink the vice. However, you deal with the sick-gosh-darn-ed-ness. Me, I prefer the worlds of sounds! Sights! Smells! And that bass that Kapouds! Zounds!
It’s all around because this world, it’s a mess. The feeling you get when you pop on a Buddog track is magical, you might not ever find it anywhere else.
Baaz: In our past conversations in Discord, you’ve mentioned you are on disability and that most of your income is from that as well as making music. If you’re comfortable, would you mind sharing your story with us as to your condition? (If you decide to answer this question, I want you to know that I have a disability of my own in the form of a heart condition, and I feel that this has defined who I am in a lot of ways. The reason I’d like to ask you about this is to see how it has affected you and if it’s pushed you towards making music.)
BUDDOG: At 9ish years old I was diagnosed with ADHD but there was something more; something doctors could not describe. I mean literally could not describe as the ink was still wet on the DSM2, which is the official medical book that describes how to diagnose and treat mental health. So I was prescribed Ritalin at 9 years old but it didn’t work. By ten or eleven I was expelled from 3rd grade, and it took until I was 16 years old (plus 6 months in juvenile county lockup, plus an all-boys school called Bonnie Brae Boys Home) that they finally figured out my diagnosis. This is to say that, I am Autistic with Aspergers. I have some dark thoughts which are attributed to Schizo-Affective Disorder.
Then it took roughly 8 more years of therapy, both group, and solo. BUT by 24–25 years old I had it mostly figured out. Yes, I fucked up a few times, landed in adult county lockup a few times, but by 22 years old, or the end of 2011 (for those counting) I was out of trouble with the law. I have not been in cuffs at all in nearly 8 years. Here’s to another 8 or more years living clean, legally speaking! Cheers! *clink*
I did all that without ever getting any tattoos or piercings. I never did the hard stuff like opium, heroin, fent, meth, or coke. I quit weed about 10 years ago and I don’t drink more than a few beers a YEAR. I do smoke a tobacco pipe and cigars, but I hate the filtered cigarette stuff. I do 25 pushups, situps, and squats a day. I try to lay off the sugar and eat lots of fish! Smelly stinky fish from a can! Herring, Sardines, Mackerel, Salmon, Tuna, Anchovies, Kippers, etc. and Sushi, I love raw tuna!
I have also had 4 major surgeries. Including no longer having my appendix and this gash on my neck, but that is from a cyst. Since I was diagnosed before 18, I do get Social Security Disability for life. My Mother is a retired Marine with PTSD, so she gets a Veterans pension and SSD as well, so we support each other.
Oh, and I survived about 4 attempts at my own life too. Once I even saw heaven, God said I was dumb and “Go back!” “Why are you even here yet? Get back to earth, you dummy!”
Baaz: You’ve clearly been through a lot in your life and despite all of it, you seem positive about yourself and where your life is heading at this point. Now that you’re back on track, what does the future hold for you, Buddog?
BUDDOG: Well, I’m not entirely sure but I am strongly pursuing a house in the Mechanicsburg/Gettysburg area, as well as a contract for a band or some form of partnership. Being Buddog is really fun as a hobby, and yes even a career, but it cannot happen without one or both of those things. I see it going one of two ways. Either I will get stuck in Easton spinning my wheels until I burnout (yes that’s a pun, deal with it) or I could get signed, make fat stacks as a signed artist in Cumberland County (also known as Pennsyltucky), and then live the rest of my days out as Phantom drummer boy on the fields of Gettysburg playing for my true audience, the dead.
I’d like to thank the artist for taking the time and answering each question with thoughtfulness and honesty. I would also like to thank you, Reader! Your support is what keeps this community going.