Black Girl Still Rockin’: Interview with Res by Preach Jacobs
The alchemy of a song can be a tedious process. Of course you have to find ways to get all the instruments to play in unison and make something happen, not to mention songwriting that at times have to come from certain parts of your soul and brain that the average person pride themselves in ignoring.
Making music is a sexy and addictive process for the people that love what they do. Despite record deals, award ceremonies or stages, there is that need to create. Singer/songwriter Res knows about this all too well: “I will always be doing music. At times I want to quit, but I’m fucking good at it. The only times I think about not doing it is based on financial reasons and nothing else. That’s nothing, doing music is what I’m supposed to do. It feels so obvious.”
Res came into the scene with her debut album How I Do in 2001 on the now defunct MCA records and had a string of singles that featured the Soul/Rock/Hip Hop flavor hybrid that maybe commonplace now, but it’s not a far stretch to say that Res was one of the first to do it – and do it pretty fucking well.
Armed with great production, strong writing and beauty for days, Res had a successful project moving around 300,000 units. Unfortunately, the recording industry began what has become a mirroring of the current economy and her follow-up album was shelved due to a label buy-out. Geffen took over MCA and all of their artists.
“There’s no other way I can say it other than it was just a case of bad luck. I worked on my follow-up album and it was finished and mixed but MCA got bought out. From that time on there were four other or more presidents that took over and they had the projects that they wanted to put out. I was doing well. They paid for everything and I had the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I got a way to look the way that I want and had the freedom to make the music I wanted. I left because my record wasn’t being put out. I’m not bitter, it’s just how it goes.”
In the meantime Res stayed busy by forming a group called Idle Warship with Talib Kweli and doing background vocals for Gnarls Barkley. She has also been in the studio working on new material including a six song ep titled Bare; an acoustic offering designed to show a different side of Res (and to facilitate going on the road).
Res’ sophomore record Black.Girls.Rock! [click for review] was for years the best album you never heard – until she recently decided to give it to the people for free via her website, the1res.com, creating a fresh new buzz for her solo material. “After I left the label, I was trying to take my second album with me somewhere else,” she says. “But they told me I couldn’t do it until I paid them back the $1.4 million it cost to make.”
Black.Girls.Rock! was slated to be released years ago – but regardless sounds as fresh as ever as she puts it out for free in cyberspace. Sonically the album explores realms of soul and rock with an unexplainable ease coupled with intimate songwriting.
On songs like “So What I Am (Sunday Nite Res),” she confesses: “I know this girl she’s famous / She seems so lost within herself / She never says she sorry / The blame just falls on someone else / She sees the walls and their falling / She used to being by herself / She thinks she’s got it figured out / And she don’t need no one else / So what am I supposed to do?”
Honesty is at the top of the list of her traits as Res unapologetically expresses herself throughout her albums and career. When asked about whether her ex-label was clueless as to how to promote her, she has her own definitive theory:
“When it came to my music, it had nothing to do about marketing. It came down to the fact that it was a major label and I’m a black girl from Philly. I look black, act black, got a black boyfriend and people weren’t use to seeing black girls have guitars and rocking. Bottom line. They had a whole marketing team and too much money to not know what to do. It came down to the fact that I had braids and can sing rock, and they didn’t want to show that to the masses because they didn’t think it was possible.”
Res would be an asset to any label indy or major, but until she signs with someone that can meet her needs, fuck a label. She’s not going to let it get in the way of what musicians do: Get the music to the people. Someway. Somehow. Now one of the world’s best kept free agents, Res continues working on new material; she is also working on a new project with a producer by the name of Doc, who helped her craft How I Do.
When asked if she will be reuniting with her writing collaborator Santigold, who was also involved in her debut album, Res leaves it open, “You know, we haven’t thought about it. I actually called last night to speak with her but as of now, she’s not on there. But we’ll see.”
2010 suggests great things for Res – not just as a musician, but exploring other facets of artistry. Don’t try and reach her on Tuesday nights around 7pm because she’s taking a photography class at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (and you can see the outcomes of her snaps on her blog).
She also is putting together an acoustic tour in more intimate settings than previous tours with a full band opening for the likes of Maxwell and Musiq Soulchild (insert any other dope as soul artists, as she’s more than likely shared a stage with them).
“If I wasn’t doing music being married would be in the cards,” she reveals. “If I weren’t singing I would be married with someone’s kids with a regular job. I went to college for financing so it would probably be something like that.” But it appears that the future father-husband for Res will have to wait for the time being, because she has a lot more stages and speakers to rock. Aren’t we so lucky? -PJ