Interview: Res One

Split Prophets MC Res One chats about the Bristol collective's upcoming LP Delta. Brava. Kilo and his recent solo album Delph Efficacy

Interview: Res One Bristol collective Split Prophets are one of the most consistent groups on the hip-hop circuit. With an extensive list of members, each with a quality output themselves, they're gearing up for the release of their first album as a whole crew. Bearded caught up with Res One from the SP crew to chat about the upcoming Delta. Brava. Kilo album, as well as his own solo LP Delph Efficacy which was released a few months back.

'I've been at work' says Res when I ask what he's been up to today. 'I'm currently working for a company that builds music studios and rehearsal rooms. We've just finished our first project in Lawrence Hill, Bristol. The science to the sound of a room is all new to me, I'm learning a lot. I've done building work for years, it's just better building work (laughs)'. One of the tracks taken from his recent LP Building Up gives more of an insight into Res' construction exploits; he spits 'I've been a builder since I hit my teens/My mum and dad used to window-clean, but switched up the business scheme to thicken cream' over the BadHabitz production.

I wonder how the Split Prophets crew first formed. 'Most of us grew up together. We used to paint together, skate together, shit like that. It evolved into the music. Upfront and I were probably like 18 or 19 when we met BadHabitz. He already had his foot in the door; he'd worked with Genesis Elijah and people like that, and he made fucking crazy beats. We formed Split Prophets in about 2009. 2011 actually. Shit, I don't know (laughs). There was a period where we were at parties and in bedrooms and parks freestyling; it wasn't really too serious. I used to freestyle a lot, I didn't really write that much to start with. There was a point where there was a crew of us doing it when we were quite young, and that was cool, but it's definitely evolved a lot since then'.

Bristol's music scene needs no real hype or long-winded explanation; it's had its fair share of veterans and impactful figures, and is still as buzzing and productive as ever. 'Yeah man it's amazing in Bristol; I used to go to a lot of the Drum & Bass nights, there's a lot of dub here. It's just good in all aspects. At the moment it seems like everything's firing off. I feel blessed to live in the city; shouts to everyone from Bristol making dope stuff, because there's a lot coming out. There's a new generation coming out of Bristol which is real dope too; 0117; some grime heads. Obviously it's the home of trip-hop; it's definitely got its ties within hip-hop for having its own almost subgenre. It's definitely an influential place and it's good to be part of the scene here'.

I ask Res if he thinks there's anything particularly different about the hip-hop coming out of the city in comparison to music from other parts of the country. 'I think everywhere's got its sound. It's hard to say. People like, say Defenders of Style (from Leeds, check our interview with Jack Danz here), I think our style is kind of similar to theirs, but it's still different. Bristol does stand out; I think the accent obviously stands out. Some of the old school heads, they have a much stronger accent; my Dad's from London, my Mum's from France and all over the world. I do have a slight accent but I don't have that proper Bristol twang. I think it's a bit more accessible now than it used to be. I think some people find that accent quite hard. That's maybe something that separates it, but I don't know. I think there's good music coming out from everywhere, all over the country'.

Delph Efficacy is a great collection of tracks, with some excellent features on it too. 'The name comes from 'self-efficacy', which is a Carl Jung theory' says Res about the album. 'It was real good, we had a real good launch party down at the Crofters, it's had a good response. It was good making it. It's weird making your first solo project, it's a hard thing to do because you don't know how people are going to take it. I did a show in Athens which was pretty fucking sick, and we did another album show in Luxembourg, so it's going alright'.

I ask how long the album took to make. 'I was working on it for a while, but about a year. I was doing different things here and there and then was like 'Fuck it I'm gonna make a solo project'. I kind of had an idea in my head of how I wanted it to be from the beginning; with the interlude beats, how it's kind of broken up, and I kind of had an idea of what I wanted to get across with the album. It's kind of like, I dunno, with the track about building, it's a bit of me, do you know what I mean? I don't know how to explain it. It's quite natural, it wasn't like I was going 'Right next I wanna do this kind of track talking about that', I was just making music that was all going in a certain direction. I enjoyed it man. I love working with the whole crew and that, but I enjoyed doing the solo stuff just as much, it was a good experience'.

Did you approach it differently from projects with the other MCs in the crew? 'It's different having complete creative control, as opposed to working on stuff with six or seven people. A lot of it I recorded on my own in my living room, so I could take as much time as I wanted, or I could fuck with adlibs, or just record it a bit differently, try out different tones. For so many years we've never had a place to record; even now we don't have a permanent space to record. We're constantly sharing a sound-card, a laptop and a microphone with each other, although we recorded our new album in a studio that we paid for. It is a bit different. When you're with a load of people you can't take as much time 'cause everyone wants to get their shit down'.

One of the features on the album is Dutch MC BlabberMouf, whose Da BlabberMouf LP is one of my favourite projects released this year. I ask how Res got in touch with him. 'My girlfriend showed me their music, and I was like fucking hell, these guys are dope. I hit them up, like you guys are ill, do you wanna make some music? It just kind of sparked from there. They came over here for a few days, and we made a track, made a few videos. It's funny you say that 'cause I was literally skyping him like half an hour ago (laughs); we're trying to sort out a Het Verzet show. Props to Het Verzet, they're good people'.

With collaborations with French MCs also in the online stratosphere, I wonder how much of a fan of European hip-hop Res is. 'I listen to probably more European stuff at the moment than UK hip-hop. I've been put onto so much good shit. With France, there's loads of crews; Mer2Crew, La Classique from Montpellier. There's lots of dope stuff coming from Paris too. And Germany man! There's some real sick shit coming from Germany, and Austria. I think Europe is really strong with hip-hop at the moment, and hopefully people are going get get over the language barrier more. A lot of is it about energy and flow. As long as you know someone's not chatting absolute fucking shit'.

Split Prophets have had a regular, high quality output of music videos, and this has definitely contributed to their growing buzz. 'It's definitely essential, that's for sure' says Res about the importance of having visuals. 'In this day and age you need to have something people can watch. Obviously there are tunes that speak for themselves, and still get a lot of hits without a video. It gives you a sense of the person that's rapping. You can make videos for so cheap now; just get a 5D camera, you can even film it on a fucking iPhone and still make a good video. It's another avenue for people to get creative with their music, and help it to spread it to people all over the world. It's definitely helped us, for sure. We wouldn't be in the same position we are without YouTube at all'.

With the Split Prophets releasing a number of projects featuring mainly two MCs, including Res One and DatKid's 2013 LP Drugs, Booze & Dental Issues, I ask what what he enjoys about making projects in the collaborative environment. 'I'm not sure man, the collaborative ones are fun. I enjoy writing with people, especially when it's like back and forth tracks. It's good performing tracks like that too. There's a lot more energy sometimes. The setbacks; sometimes writing with other people, you get distracted easily, people start talking, get you high (laughs). It's good fun though. That's something we don't do enough anymore because everyone's got this, that and the third to deal with. We don't get to sit down and freestyle and write as much as we used to. Delta. Brava. Kilo has come together like that; we were all in the studio together, putting stuff down together and piecing stuff together together (laughs)'.

Their reputation on the live circuit precedes them, and their performance at last year's Boom Bap Festival (review) was a testament to the energy they bring. 'I enjoy just losing it man' says Res. He rethinks. 'Well, not losing it. I am composed. But the energy you get, especially when a crowd are giving off energy too and giving it back to you, and the exchange just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and by the end the crowd's fucked, you're fucked, it's good man. We've done both ends of the spectrum; massive shows where there's 15,000 people, to shows where there's no people and someone comes up asking to have a go on the microphone, or saying 'put some good music on' (laughs)'.

I ask if Split Prophets had any kind of plan when starting to make music. 'It came about in a natural way. On Scribbled Thoughts (their 2011 debut project) Upfront and I were just at Badhabitz's a lot, recording. When we got a few tracks together, a few more people got on it and we just put it out. We put in £75 and that was our start-up. We pressed up our CDs, I spray-painted 'SP' on every one with a stencil; it was humble beginnings. It wasn't planned but it got planned. It's still on its way to working perfectly but we're getting there. We did kind of jump in the deep end; it wasn't like we were prepared for it. It was some rago shit. We went from just being writers out and about on some madness, to being like 'You're getting booked you've got to drive to this place'. We had to get planned and get sorted and organised, otherwise we'd just have failed. Now it's much more organised; we're on Diplomats of Sound, they're doing our bookings. We've grown up a lot as well. We came into the game at like 18, 19. We didn't know how to run a business or anything like that'.

Delta. Bravo. Kilo. is set to drop in late January, and I ask what we can expect from the album. 'FIRE (laughs). It's good. It's been a long time coming but it's worth the wait. Everyone's been writing a lot, everyone's fucking ill man. I like to say it; I rap with some of the best rappers in the country. We're constantly pushing each other. It's completely in house; there's no production from anyone else, there's no features from anyone else. It's all completely Split Prophets. It was recorded by a guy called Nate, shout outs to Nate and Self Store Studios, but other than that it's all Split Prophets'.

The first track released from the LP, This Is War features Upfront, Bil Next and Paro, and it's crazy. Bil Next's appearance is one of the most impressive verses I've heard for a while. 'That's what I mean, the whole album for me is like that', says Res. 'Everyone's verses are just like 'Shit that's my favourite verse or favourite track', then on the next song it's like 'What the fuck?'. It's mad, everyone has come through with some fucking heat. I'm really hyped to drop it and start touring it'.

I ask if there are any other upcoming projects to look out for from the Split Prophets camp. 'I can tell you DatKid's got a project coming. I can't tell you when or what it's called, but I can tell you that it's ridiculously good. Flying Monk's got an EP coming out soon called Twisted Turtles. We're gonna be doing projects with the RLD boys, Leaf and BVA, also with Defenders of Style. A few different people. Once this album is out it gives us time to smash out a load of stuff with different people, and collaborate a load more'.

As we reach the end of our conversation, I ask what Res has been listening to lately. 'I've been listening to a lot of Cubana music; Buena Vista Social Club's Lost & Found album; my friend from Germany Samedee, he's a dope producer and DJ, and an absolutely amazing person, he gave me that record and it's ridiculous. Hip-hop wise, I've been listening to Non Phixon recently, a lot of different stuff man. I've been watching some sound-system clashes too, I'm loving them. Joey Bada$$ is killing it, quite a lot of Action Bronson. Roc Marciano as well man, and Sean P. My housemate Dub Logic, my girlfriend and I were painting the living room and we wanted to listen to some music so we copped that Songs In The Key Of Price and that's fucking sick. He's ridiculous.

With Split Prophets going from strength to strength, boasting a discography packed full of quality projects, 2016 is set to be an even bigger year than ever. Make sure to check their bandcamp page here if you've been sleeping on their music, and if they touch down in your town or city, don't be a bore go out and support.