Stro Elliot’s “La Villa” releasing via Def Pressé

Stro Elliot of The Roots

London-based label, Def Pressé are very pleased to announce their partnership with legendary Library Music label KPM. Def Pressé and friends, including names like Damu the Fudgemunk, Stro Elliot (The Roots), J-Live, Blockhead, Deca, Chris Dave and many more TBA have been given exclusive access to the KPM Library. These projects will take shape as two types of record. Def Pressé Editions/KPM Crate Diggers are works built around samples from KPM releases amongst other Library Music catalogues. Def Pressé Editions/KPM Originals are brand new pieces of music, free from samples. Both of these series’ include some very special guest vocalists and musicians as well as the Producers/Arrangers themselves. All of this music will be released by Def Pressé and placed into the vaults at KPM Library Music.

Stro Elliot’s fourth album La Villa is a dizzying and sumptuous trip through the lush grooves of hip-hop as well as the storied collection of the KPM Library, which is home to over 70 years of music and sound designs made for television, film, and radio. The fourth release in London-based label Def Pressé’s KPM Crate Diggers series, La Villa finds The Roots member, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Elliot applying an elegant touch to his sample selections—opening up his own production approach in new and dazzling ways while introducing a greater audience to the KPM Library’s limitless possibilities.

La Villa is the latest jewel in the crown of Elliot’s multifaceted career, from being a part of Colorado rap collective the Procussions to his contributions as a full-time member of hip-hop legends the Roots, which has also led to him being a mainstay on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. After the COVID-19 pandemic ground his busy schedule to a halt, however, Elliot found himself some free time to get back to his own (no pun intended) production roots. “We usually don’t stop—there’s constantly things to do,” he explains. “But during the pandemic, everyone in the band started branching out during the downtime, and for me it was a refocus. My passion is production and remixes, and during 2020 a lot was opened up creatively for me.”

While Elliot was hard at work on a separate remix project—specifically, his collection of James Brown re-imaginings Black & Loud from last year—he was contacted by the folks at Def Pressé about taking part in the KPM Crate Diggers series. “I’m very familiar with those green album covers, so being asked to do this reignited a desire to re-establish myself within a group of artists that like to create out of pre-existing material,” he explains about his enthusiasm to contribute to the project. “I came up with people who dub for vinyl, and it was always like finding little pieces of gold whenever we found those covers. They could be anything, and that’s what the KPM library meant to us. You could get something that sounded like rock, jazz, or Latin music—it was a lottery of material, you never knew what you were gonna get. 9 times out of 10, it was always something useful, and it was always worth listening to as well.”

“Being asked to reshape this material and do whatever I want with it was exactly the kind of thing you’d want to hear from anyone whose music you grew up listening to,” Elliot continues, and it’s the versatility of the KPM catalog that allowed him to truly dig in across these ten tracks. “KPM really did let me do whatever I wanted with this music. There was no expectation because their library’s been so vast in genre. Also, the majority of the music doesn’t have any vocals, so melodically you can do a lot more with it. I was able to go more experimental than some of my other projects because of that.”

The results are pure aural bliss; lead single “Monday’s Generation” is an upbeat slice of joy that rides on piping flute, shuffling guitar chords, and a percolating backbeat reminiscent of house music. “There was so much there for me to use, and sometimes as a remixer I have trouble settling on one idea—so I try to find a way to work everything in there, which turns it into a multi-part song,” Elliot explains while talking about the song’s creation. “There was a lot there to pick from for this one, and I liked all of it.”

The echoing boom-bap of “Bamboo” speaks to Elliot’s deep rap lineage, while the easygoing ambience and tight drums of “Light Work” marked the beginnings of La Villa’s creation itself. “I heard the record and it just kind of jumped out of the speakers at me,” he recalls. “I was like, ‘OK, I know what this is.’ It spoke to the hip-hop aesthetic that I always gravitate towards. It was about finding a way to chop and rearrange it that felt unique while adding a groove to it. It sparked the whole project for me.” Then there’s “Solid State,” which moves with a lovely off-kilter gait as swooning tones reverberate in the background. “I don’t know if I’ve ever made anything that felt like this before,” Elliot explains while talking about the song. “It left the door open for me to try something new as a result, and even though I was hesitant about whether it would be liked, I feel like it’s part of what kind of creative I am as a producer.”

And La Villa ultimately represents Elliot’s wielding of the tools in the KPM library to expand his own sonic horizons—testing himself and his own abilities while laying a path for an exciting future. “I’ve always been a big jazz head, and it’s always been my go-to vibe, so the idea of creating something original like this with intention was really attractive,” he says while talking about how the project represents this era of his storied career. “There was a lot of musicality involved, especially when it came to what I built around these samples—and that opened me up when it comes to what I create as a musician, too.”

Stro Elliot – La Villa
Tracklist, sample list, info.

1. Monday’s Generation
samples: ‘Mondays Child’ by Keith Mansfield, KPMLP1062-4; ‘Young Generation’ by Keith Mansfield, KPMLP1125-4

samples: ‘Far and Wide’ by Tony Tape, BMLP131-5

3. Solid State
samples: ‘Solid Satin’ by Alan Frederick Parker, KPMLP1130-3

4. Lonely
samples: ‘Pastoral Sunrise’ by Branislav Zivkovic, CSLP23-12; ‘Lonely G.I.’ by Alessandro Alessandroni, CSLP17-3

5. Light Work
samples: ‘Black Light’ by Alan Frederick Parker, KPMLP1130-6

6. Praylude
samples: ‘Prelude and Fugue (No.16)’ by Armand Migiani, Johann Sebastian Bach, KPMLP1003-1

7. Bamboo
samples: ‘Habatoli Souna’ by Oswald Antoine Marie D’Andrea, BM7-2

8. Frozen Four
samples: ‘Un Graso De Areia’ by Francy Boland, KPMINT4-14; ‘That’s What Friends Are For (Vocal)’ by Alan Frederick Parker, Madeline Bell, TIMLP1021-11

9. Riot
samples: ‘Cuban Riot’ by Syd Dale, KPMLP1002-8

10. Dream Factory
samples: ‘Dream Fantasy’ by Syd Dale, KPMLP1002-12