Prince Bright and the late Ronnie Coches
I had the opportunity to interview Prince Bright of Buk Bak fame. This is actually the first time I have interviewed a celebrity. I have been blogging for more than year now and I am glad that this opportunity came to me. Prince Bright talked about how Buk Bak was formed, music, the late Ronnie Coches and a bit of how he was as a person. Moreover, he finally explained why he didn’t attend the one week celebration that MUSIGA organised for Ronnie Coaches on 28 November, 2013.
Phyllis Ntim: How did Buk Bak start as a group?
Prince Bright: The first two members of the Buk,Isaac Shoetan and I, met through family relations in the neighbourhood because my grandmother’s house was close to his parents’s house. We got together, freestyling and formed the group. And then through competitions in school, we decided to bring Ronnie on board to make it a three-person group. After getting to Ronnie, we did some few auditions at The National Theatre in Ghana. We came up with a few styles. We learned how to interact with the crowd. We became a household name at The National Theatre.
Phyllis Ntim: When was Buk Bak formed?
Prince Bright: Buk Bak was formed way back in the 90’s. Buk Bak has been in existence for over 20 years now. We released our official debut album in 1998. But before that, we were active. A friend of mine called Abib, who used to be my classmate, became our executive producer. So everything was kind of interwined between friends and family.
Phyllis Ntim: What is the meaning of Buk Bak?
Prince Bright: Basically, Buk Bak represents the struggle that we went through as a group to maintain our status in the industry. We were relegated to the background. We were told that we had no future. We were told that nothing good was gonna come out of us. We were just a bunch of guys with earrings, afros and baggy pants. So we felt ‘booked back’. ‘Booked back’ made use to come up with the name ‘Buk Bak’.
Phyllis Ntim: How old were you at that time?
Prince Bright: Quite young. We were teens in high school.
Phyllis Ntim: When did you know that you wanted to pursue a music career?
Prince Bright: I don’t even know how it all began. All I knew was that something big was happening and we were getting a lot of money from our producer. We didn’t really understand the game at that point in time. The song that made me feel I was really doing something and getting paid for was the song ‘Chingilingi’, which is from the second album.
Phyllis Ntim: What are some of the challenges you faced as a group and as a solo artiste?
Prince Bright: Understanding the team you work with. We all come from different backgrounds and we all have different ways in dealing with our problems. It is difficult to deal with people if you don’t have patience.
Sometimes, you need to have a second opinion as a solo artiste. If you’re not lucky to have a producer that understands where you are going, you can’t make it on your own. You definitely need somebody to direct you. A Ghanaian artiste would tell you “My manager. My manager” but he is actually referring to the executive producer. Unfortunately, the Ghanaian music industry started off with one person singlehandedly taken care of a whole record label. The executive producer was the manager and PR agent. He was everything. Sometimes, as a solo artiste, it will work somehow but you need someone to support you. I’ll rather have a team even if I am solo artiste than have one person and make mistakes.
Whilst in a group, we shared ideas in order to have obstacles. Two heads are usually better than one. If something goes wrong, you can have a back-up plan. That is what I think has brought Ronnie and I this far.
Phyllis Ntim: Tell me more about yourself. Who is Prince Bright?
Prince Bright: Prince Bright is a fun-loving person who is always happy. I worry a little bit if a record label can’t push a record song as far as it’s supposed to go. I love people. I love to see people happy. I love kids even though I don’t have kids of my own yet. I just love what I do. I love music. I love producing. I love being in the centre of everything such as in studio, on stage and helping people out. I don’t like to see people suffer especially in Africa where there is so much to be done. I worry about how people are going to be fed, how people are going to get pure and clean water. Basically, I am a man for all. I wish there was a lot I could to for Africa in general. Even though I live in The States, the U.S. has its own problems likewise Africa. If only we could cooperate and share ideas, business relationships would be a little more tighter. I’m not a political person but I know that my country is suffering. I love to be a regular person. I don’t want to be known as a star. I wanna be known as a regular person who is just like everybody else. I love my mum, siblings and family. I just like to enjoy life.
Phyllis Ntim: You and Ronnie have mentored many successful artists such as 4X4, Castro and Pope Skinny. How does it feel to have accomplished that?
Prince Bright: I give all the credit to God rather than myself. All we knew was just to lend a helping hand.
Phyllis Ntim: MUSIGA organised a one week celebration of Ronnie Coaches. How come you were not there?
Prince Bright: I was so broken by the news that I wouldn’t have made it to Ghana. I was so devastated and messed up. The best advice that I received from a few people that saw me was “You know we can’t let you go like this. You gotta calm down”. This is a person I have known all my life. I spoke to him a few hours before his death. The next thing I heard was that he is gone. Imagine how broken I was that I didn’t even think of taking a flight from the U.S to Africa. I should’ve been there but I just couldn’t stand the fact that he is gone. I still can’t accept it right now. I cry a lot when I think about it. When I wake up early in the morning and play the last song we recorded, ‘Mama Cry No More’, I still can’t accept the fact that he is gone. Maybe with time I will learn to understand what it is all about.
Phyllis Ntim: You know he had heart problems, right?
Prince Bright: Yeah. Ronnie has been known to keep a lot of things inside. He was a quiet person. Even if he was made, he would keep it inside. Even if he was happy, he would keep it inside. He didn’t say much. I would be the only person talking. We both don’t like to talk. But if we both don’t talk, how do we sell our music? So I had to learn how to talk. I’m a very shy person. That is why always have my sunglasses on.
Phyllis Ntim: No way! Are you serious? Are you shy?
Prince Bright: Yeah.
Phyllis Ntim: I used to be shy when I was young and I’m not shy anymore.
Prince Bright: It takes a lot of guts to be able to stand infront of a crowd of millions and to put your song out there. I had to learn to combat shyness because I’m a people’s person. I had to break the shyness off and put on my sunglasses and do what I do. I’m different in person.
Even if Ronnie had problems with his heart, he wouldn’t tell anybody. I knew how to calm him down if anything went wrong.
Phyllis Ntim: “Kolom” was a smash hit. What does it actually mean?
Prince Bright: Basically, Kolom is derived from a kid game we used to play in Ghana. You dig a hole in a ground and then you push a seed into the hole. If the seed gets into the hole, everybody would say “Kolom!”. It’s just like kicking a football in the net and everybody says “Goal!”. It’s a response to winning a game. It’s just like putting a coin in a jar. The effect it gets is more or less like expressing my love to a female and it sounds like “Kolom”. People don’t really understand why went to that extreme to bring stuff from when we were growing up as kids. Music of Buk Bak is something that people can relate to. We talked about trotro, kelewele, chingilingi girls (slim girls), the society and the problems that we are facing.
Phyllis Ntim: Your last words to the fans before the end of this interview.
Prince Bright: R0nnie loves you all. That’s one thing I know for sure. If you love Buk Bak, I want you to keep Buk Bak and Ronnie in prayers. If you’re a ghanaian, just pray for Ghana. I feel bad for all the people that are in the streets. That’s all I got to say.
Phyllis Ntim: Thank you for this interview, Bright.
Prince Bright: You’re welcome.
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