Idle Warship is a group where rapper Talib Kweli and rock singer Res get to experiment. Their new album Habits of the Heart isn’t quite a concept album, but it’s certainly themed around love and obsession. Res can be a power vocalist, but she’s best at shredding heady lyrics to pieces. Since her early collaborative days songwriting with Santigold, she’s grown as a writer, and found new writing partners who are women too. Onstage she’s an athletic diva comfortable in our her skin; the former tomboy is more sex lion than kitten. Kweli began DJ’ng ten years ago, and in Idle Warship, he gets to exercise other muscles, including an earnest attempt at singing. Their new live set up is backed by one of the best bands I’ve seen in awhile, I saw them Halloween night and they ripped through their own material then tore the house down with covers of Annie Lenox and The Beatles. Res was dressed as a vampire Frida Kahlo and Kweli as himself, only freer. Here, I talk to Res about what she listens to, her workout plan and her favorite purple dress.
Life+Times: What kind of driver are you?
Res: I would say I am a good driver. Only two accidents in my life, but none were my fault. But my family thinks I am a bad driver, I drive too fast…blah blah! When we are on the road and need to get to the destination fast, I find myself behind the wheel.
L+T: What’s your workout routine like? Your show’s pretty physical.
Res: I train with a guy named Orion. He’s really good he’s about body forming and shaping. We do pilates, lunges, alternate training, jumping jacks on a trampoline. I’m waking my body up because it’s been so long. Growing up I played tennis, softball in high school, golf, squash, lacrosse in college. I was never still growing up, I was one of those kids who was running up and down the street.
L+T: What’s the best thing you’ve ever worn onstage?
Res: I wore an amazing purple long chiffon dress for Tomiko Fraiser’s Charity event in LA a few years back. I felt amazing in it! I sang jazz standards that night which complimented the entire night!
L+T: What’s the most meaningful compliment you’ve ever received from a fan?
Res: Every compliment I receive from all my fans mean a lot to me. But the one that stick out the most is from a guy that was stuck on his roof in New Orleans during Katrina. He wrote me a message via Myspace and explained to me how “They Say Vision” keeps him going. It was the song that was stuck in his head during the days and nights he was on the roof waiting for someone to rescue him. He described his ordeal and said that the sound of my voice was with him and it soothed him.
L+T: What talent do you have that you hide from new people in your life?
Res: When I meet new people that don’t know who I am, I never tell them that I’m a singer. I usually tell them I write songs or that I sing background. I usually try to downplay my career and who I work with and I just try to enjoy the genuine interaction and conversation.
L+T: What’s your favorite Idle Warship song?
Res: I love singing period. But my favorite song song to sing is “Steady into Sweet Dreams.” That was the first official Idle Warship song me and Kweli ever wrote for the group!
L+T: Who do you listen to?
Res: I listen to music off my laptop. I’ve been listening to Active Child, [The] Beatles, Bilal‘s last album, Cee Lo; I used to sing background for Gnarls Barkley, which is how I became a Cee Lo fan. I really couldn’t understand Goodie Mob – the accents were so strong. I’m listening to Cuddle Magic, who are kind of orchestral rock, Frank Ocean, Foster the People, and Mickey Sumner. She’s Sting’s daughter.
L+T; How do you define success?
Res: Success for me is being able to make the music I want to make. I came out with a lot of people who i know for a fact aren’t making the music they started out wanting to make. For me, sticking to my guns, working with the people I want to work with, being able to be creative and free and make a living, and get people’s respect – that’s success. I either get people who don’t know my music or me and that’s fine, or I meet people who really love what I do, I never get a lukewarm response, which I love.