West Coast hip hop in South West England, Res One and Mac Lloyd‘s new EP is a city break with a twist. Hindsight Hotel leaves Res One’s classic Split Prophets sound behind, with the multi-talented producer Mac Lloyd lacing funky flavours for the Bristol duo. In our chat, the pair explain how the personal changes in their lives led to the project being unlike anything they’ve done before. Both dads and Green Brick Records comrads, their recent release opens up new doors on every floor.
“There’s a lot more to me than just fuckin’ rapping on boom bap.”
– Res One
A lot is revealed in our discussion about the sound, vision and complete package of the EP, with everyone from Roy Ayers and Rick & Morty playing their part. To the surprise of some fans, UK hip hop legend Res One sings across Hindsight Hotel, showing his diversity as an artist. Who better to get him in the groove than ‘Mr. Sweetheart Soul Jams’, Mac Lloyd? We talk the return of The Brick Sofa Podcast, cancel culture and cartoons, as well as stepping out of boxes and into new ones. Check in and check out Hindsight Hotel.
I’ve gotta say happy 30th to Res, what have you done to celebrate?
R: “I had a night off from my baby son with my fiancée. We went out and stayed in a hotel, it was real nice man. Had a real nice evening and just relaxed ya know. Just had a bit of that time out. It was good, chilled, had a couple of drinks as well cos we’ve been sober for a month now – no smoking, no drinking. So we kinda broke that a little bit, had a couple drinks and a cigarette.” [Laughs]
M: “The man deserves it.”
So, being Hindsight Hotel, what bad/regretful hotel experiences have you had?
M: [Laughs] “Off the top of my head, I’ve not done many shows where I’ve stayed in hotels afterwards where things could get wild. All my hotel experiences have been family holidays, things like that. Every time I’ve gone and played shows we end up staying at a house or in a car or in a van or something. So things would get wild there usually as opposed to in a hotel room.”
R: “For me, the last bad hotel experience we had was playing a show New Year’s Eve in Cambridge last year. We got to the place and the people looked us up and down and were like, ‘Nah, you’re not staying here.’ They said, ‘Everyone needs their passport,’ so alright, cool we’ve all got our passports. Then they’re like, ‘Nah actually you need your passport and this and this…’ They basically made it impossible for us to stay so a couple of us had to go somewhere else. But it was a Cambridge thing, you know what I mean? [Laughs] I’ve had all sorts of weird ones but that’s probably the most recent.”
Green Brick affiliates, how did you two meet and start making music together?
R: “I set up Green Brick Records in 2018 and not long after, (well me and Mac Lloyd had met before but he was affiliated with a different group and we never really touched base on music), but my friend Dom who runs This and That Media put me in touch with him and showed me a couple of his new tracks. I think it was ‘Trapped‘ that he showed me.”
M: “Yeah that would be the one.”
R: “And I was like, ‘Yo, I need to meet this guy.’ So we set up a meeting and we’ve kinda just been building on developing together and eventually coming to make this project, which is cool man. It’s been quite a while in the making you know, it’s been ready for like a year.”
M: “It feels like I’ve been doing Mac Lloyd for much, much longer than I have, but I’d actually only released my first record in March of 2018, around the time that Green Brick was starting to drop. As Res says, we got introduced by Dom. I’d done videos with Dom and been hanging out, making music and fun bits on the side for a while. Then over the course of us being introduced and saying we wanted to work together, we both became dads. Ceri [Res] was already engaged and we both similarly went through a huge shift in our lives. I think that made the whole process way easier. The understanding of the essence of time was there, obviously we had other priorities so there wasn’t mad pressure to get things done in a rush and I think that’s why it’s come out in the way that it has and why we’re so pleased with it. We were so understanding of each other’s situations as those changes came about. To me it feels like me and Ceri have been friends for way longer because of the amount of crap—not crap, stuff—that’s happened in the last two years.”
The EP seems like a step away from traditional, boom pap UK hip hop. Is this a project about changes and rethinking?
R: “I think, like Rob [Mac] said, we were both in a place of great change. I write quite personal even though it might not come across that I’m conveying: ‘This is what happens in my day-to-day’. The sound of my music changes with the sound of my environment. I’m not on road anymore, I’m not out and about doing bad shit and I think the music reflects that. The fact that I’m a lot more chilled, a lot more grown up, there’s a lot more things like having a fiancée, a baby, and all the other things that have been going on have kinda reflected in the music. Some of it has come across more direct, say ‘Curse‘ is a bit more direct about specific things, but I think it’s more the feel.”
M: “I’d definitely agree with that. There’s definitely an undercurrent because naturally when writing music, the best things are gunna come naturally aren’t they. With that, all the stuff that Res has written is very much still Res in terms of its characteristic and its presence, but it is like you say, a more mature version, and the topics he speaks about in his verses are things that I’ve experienced in one way or another over the last few years as well. There was almost no qualms lyrically, there was a couple lines that we changed, but everything was pretty spot-on in terms of messages we wanted to convey. There are particular lines that we both really do relate to and I think those are accented on the recording. Like on ‘Find Space‘, there’s the one ‘Got failed twice by my teachers,’ and I accent that quite heavily.”
Mac, did you give Res One singing lessons for this EP?
M: “Nah man, he just went straight in and fucking smashed it mate. When I made ‘Find Space’ I gave it to a bunch of people and I wanted to make it a little bit quirky and a little bit funky but no one knew what to do with it really. So I held on to it and gave it to Res. I’d already heard Res sing a couple little pieces on his last album and he was getting a little more melodic. When he pencilled in that hook he was slightly singing it but sing-rapping it and I think there was a bit more encouragement for him to go for it, wasn’t there Res?”
R: “Originally I was gunna get you to sing it. The idea when I wrote it was I’d have a lower layer and then Mac would sing over the top and sorta be the forefront of it.”
M: “But I didn’t really want that because I wanted people to hear this new, expanded version of Res. One of the first things that a lot of people are saying is: ‘Oh shit, I didn’t know Res could sing. I didn’t know he had such a smooth voice.’ I really wanted people to know that. One of my favourite things with collaborating, like when I collaborated with Jman for his Babylon Dead stuff, I like bringing people out of their comfort zones and instilling a new style that they can use with me so we can make something newer. I think that came across really well between us.”
The video for ‘Find Space’ is like Big Lez in Bristol. What led you to animation rather than the standard street-shot visuals?
R: “COVID-19 baby [Laughs]. But that kinda played in our favour because, especially working with this guy Josh Richardson, he’s a really talented kid and his style, the fact that we got both videos done by him, I think really ties in with the project nice. It’s given it all an aesthetic, you know what I mean? His style fits with this new, slightly spaced-out R&B sound that we’ve created on this EP. Tryna get a video done during lockdown was just gunna be impossible. It’s still proving to be hard at the moment to get logistics sorted and get this kind of shit done with other videos on the label. I think it’s good, I think it worked in our favour man. And I love the videos. I think the guy is really talented and it’s a nice trippy visual for a more trippy, laid-back sound.”
M: “I definitely think it adds to the whole project as a package. We had videos patterned up for the two that we were gunna do videos for, but I think the way that ‘Find Space’ especially came out along with the lyrics in the song, the way he was able to animate parts of the lyrics and create that intergalactic space journey to reflect upon the changes that Res mentions in the song, I think that accent really works and doubles up with the song massively. The whole style, (like you said at the start, Big Lez), I’m a huge cartoon guy. I love Big Lez, Lucas Bros., Rick & Morty, all the Adult Swim stuff like Mike Tyson Mysteries, all of those cartoons. So as soon as Res said, ‘Let’s get an animator’, I was like, ‘Fuck yeah!’. I was straight onboard with it.”
R: “It’s a nice flavour man, I love the guy’s work. Check him out on Instagram.”
M: “Yeah, he’s recently done a video with Example, you know, the big British rapper from the noughties? He’s just done a thing for him because he’s on a comeback but he’s making waves man. He’s a very talented guy.”
Mac, I hear you planned to blend Action Bronson and Amy Winehouse on ‘Mama Knows’. What sounds would you both say informed the EP?
M: “For me, there’s always a lot of classic Motown and soul going on, so there’s gunna be elements of soul, neo soul and R&B in there because it’s stuff that me and my girlfriend listen to around the house every day. But then there’s a bit more of a psychedelic edge to it. Elements of psychedelic rock like Hendrix or Santana definitely come into play because I’m a huge fan of theirs. So that informed the outro of ‘Find Space’ and those sorts of elements on the EP. But yeah, from a production side of view, it’s just a culmination of all the loungey jazz, R&B and soul that I’ve listened to over the years, and putting that into a package that someone like Res can rap freely over with no boundary of topic.”
R: “See how you’ve got the West Coast music in the states, (swagged-out, lowridery stuff), I’ve always been saying: ‘Let’s make some South West Coast.’ Have this jazzy, chilled out, more smooth type of hip hop that’s a bit more melodic. I listen to really eclectic range of fuckin’ hip hop and other music, so I think it’s more what I’m listening to daily, what I feel like creating after making so much boom bap and being put into the box of boom bap for years and years. Whenever someone is like, ‘I’ve got this beat for you Res!’, it’s always a formula that I’ve—not played out—but I feel like I’ve gone so far within that formula that I need to step into another box and try out some different flavours before signing myself off as ‘that guy’. I feel like there’s a lot more to me than just fuckin’ rapping on boom bap. I like just making music, and with this and the new stuff that we’ll be making, I think it gives me as a rapper more scope to be able to try different things out: to try out melodies, to try out different sorts of structures to songs, different tones of voice and delivery. It’s come from a wide range of influence man.”
M: “Yeah, so going back to the direct influences on the production side, a few that I was really listening to when I started producing the instrumentals like ‘Mama Knows‘, were people like Amy Winehouse and Action Bronson. That’s one of the reasons why I made that instrumental, because I’ve always thought it would be fucking amazing to hear them two on a tune. If you could throw that back into the plethora of R&B/hip hop singles in the ’00s, that would have been one of the best ones ever. And then there’s a lot of stuff I’ve been listening to that’s experimental rap, like EarthGang and BROCKHAMPTON, which then informed a lot of the different vocal styles that we used on that EP: a lot of the pitch shifts and Res’ singing deep and my falsetto up high. Then there’s stuff like Roy Ayers and War, all the old skool, laid-back, slick and funky shit that you just wanna jump in the lowrider to and spark one. I wanted to really push that sort of late night, steezed-out vibe. And when you listen to Res’ earlier stuff, there’s plenty of steeze that you can take away from that and put into this genre, I feel.”
Res, you run The Brick Sofa Podcast and just did a Shotgun The Aux takeover, when will we see a return of the show and will Mac be the first guest?
R: “We’ve been struggling with certain production aspects of the show. Me and Rogue want it to be as consistent as before. We’ve got one recorded, a really interesting one with a friend of mine. He’s a personal trainer/MMA fighter talking about some controversial views he has, which I don’t necessarily stand by, but I like listening to people’s different opinions on the world and what the fuck’s going on. But I don’t want to come back to it without it being a comeback that is consistent. So if we were to just drop that and not have other content to come the week after and the week after, I’d feel stupid. We had it really tightly tied up in the first 20 episodes or whatever it was, and I feel like we would do ourselves a disservice to just come straight back into it without the content. But, yes, Mac was ideally gunna be a guest before we dropped this EP, so I’m pretty sure he’ll definitely be one of the first guests back, if not the first. Hopefully—not hopefully—it will come back soon, and it will come back stronger than ever [American film trailer voice].”
Do you have any go-to podcasts yourselves?
M: “Yeah, I’ve got four or five that I listen to every day. I’ve been listening to a lot of Mike Tyson‘s podcasts lately. I find his complete shift in mentality and spirituality really interesting, coming from being a fuckin’ machine that would be able to kill anyone. And some of the guests are phenomenal. I listen to Grilling JR. I’m a big pro-wrestling fan, I watched a lot of it when I was a kid and he’s one of the well-known announcers and he reviews classic shows. Then there’s Theo Von‘s This Past Weekend, and the recently deceased (well, he’s not dead), Joey Diaz‘ Church of What’s Happening Now, which has unfortunately finished. Those are four that are my go-to when I’m running or doing my fuckin’ chores around the house. I’ll always have them on in the background, they always cheer me up some-way some-how.”
R: “I used to be kinda deep into podcasts and in all honesty I just haven’t had the time to sit and listen to a podcast recently—”
M: [Laughs] “You’re too busy making your own.”
R: “Yeah too busy doing one ourselves. But nah, if were to say one that I will put on at the moment, it’s either Hip Hop Saved My Life (the Romesh Ranganathan show), or Your Mom’s House – Tom Sagura and Christina Pazsitzky. That shit is just fuckin’ hilarious. They take the piss out of everyone, everyone’s a target, it’s super sarcastic. They’re American comedians but their comedy is very dry and British. They have the dumbest shit on there man: videos of absolute psychos and crazy people. They’ll break down the video and everyone is constantly tryna cancel them and get them shut down. They’re getting banned from different things cos in this current climate, that kinda comedy is struggling to exist because people are way too sensitive.”
M: “I was gunna say, that’s why I go to podcasts. A lot of the humour that I like does fall into those categories, so I’ve found that podcasts have been like a safe space for anyone to just talk about their shit from any walk of life. That’s why I go there because it’s unfiltered and yeah, people might say some dumb shit that they’ll probably regret later—”
R: “That they shouldn’t regret later! That’s the thing, they say something and everyone tries to take down every account they’ve ever had. People need to remember that comedy is comedy. It’s a scary time we’re living in where you can get deaded off and your whole platform can get destroyed for not necessarily agreeing with the narrative, or saying something that’s quite clearly a joke, but as soon as you put it into writing, it turns into something very offensive, you know what I’m saying? Everything has a tone and context. But for everyone out there that’s reading this, go check out the previous Brick Sofa ones, because by the time you’ve watched all of those, we’ll have new ones coming out. Whamo.” [Laughs]
What’s next for Res One and Mac Lloyd?
R: “Together, we’re definitely in the mix of making some more shit and it’s gunna be an evolved version of what we’ve just put out, cos obviously this is just the start. There’s definitely gunna be more of that kinda flavour of stuff coming, maybe a lot more singing from me. God knows man, a lot of stuff. Then, I’ve been working on a project with Upfront from Split Prophets and Badhabitz, so that’s being made.”
M: “There’s a lot in the pipeline. I started changing some beats around for me and Ceri that go more into steezed-out, funky stuff. We feel like that’s a little area that we both enjoy writing to at the moment. Then for my solo stuff I’ve got a longer EP that’s hopefully gunna be coming out around the end of the year, that’s a lot more down my melancholic, signature soul sound. Around spring time I’ve got a project that’ll hopefully come out that’s me working with a few different producers in boom bap, R&B and trap. That one’s a bit more of a variety. There’s a bit of jazzy boom bap on there, there’s me singing over a trappy soul beat from Joe Burn‘s younger brother Phinest. And then I’m always pencilling ideas together for Soul Jams, which will hopefully start around spring next year. And there’s loads of collaborations but you’ll see those on social media. Working hard.”
What names and brands deserve a shout out?
R: “Shout out my and my fiancée’s brand FattyLou. Everyone go check that out, check us out on Instagram, Facebook and everything else. We’ve got a new range of clothing dropping real soon. As far as Bristol goes, shout out to Split Prophets, D3DW8, Cheese & Bread – Jay0117 is one of my favourite consistent artists in the city, constantly smashing stuff out. Shout out Rogue and Relly. Shotgun The Aux as well – look out for a project that Shotgun The Aux and Brick Sofa are currently making. We are gunna make something very special for the scene. That’s about it for me really, I’m sure there’s a thousand other people…”
M: “For just the EP itself, everyone that was involved. Both of our Misses deserve a big shout out for giving us the time to be able to create it while looking after the babies and being amazing mothers. Shout out Jevon at MOOD for the amazing mix and master, he’s dope. Josh Rich who did the animation at Shed Productions, Wayne who’s the lady who made the artwork—”
R: “Yeah ffolie.adeux, shouts to ffolie man. I’m so bad, I know Instagram names but not people’s real names. ffolie.adeux from Salonika, big love.”
M: “I understand that for me, I’m really appreciative of anyone who’s given me the time because I’m still being established as an artist. So anyone that’s given me the fucking time of day and for the stuff that I’ve done on Green Brick, because I understand that I’m a little bit different from some of the other artists on the label, but everyone who’s been checking it, big love, really. Especially in this current climate where the music industry has basically fallen apart. The fact that people are taking the time to actually sit down and absorb these records that we wrote over this period of time is really awesome.”
R: “I second that 100%. It’s tough times so shouts to everyone that’s supporting and copping. Much love. Shouts to you for getting us on as well man – appreciated!”
M: “Yeah big up brother. It’s been nice to get our teeth stuck in finally.”
Listen to Hindsight Hotel now
Interviewed by: James Wijesinghe