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Stro Elliot doesn’t just make beats – he makes music. As a child of military parents, he travelled the world marinating in a record collection that spanned from jazz greats like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, to Funk/Soul luminaries like Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic, and Prince.
Studying trumpet, piano, and then drums and guitar, Stro became a skilled multi-instrumentalist, even as he began to explore the world of Hip Hop, drawn to the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Pharcyde, and Ice Cube. Currently residing in Los Angeles and about to embark on his first tour of Australia and New Zealand Stro continues to grow and expand his musical palette with every new project, edit, or remix.
Who is Stro Elliot?
A music geek that also makes music. Or is this an existential question? In which case, no one knows.
What are your earliest memories of music?
It’s hard to say. I feel like there’s always been music around. Whether through my parents record collection, or my grandfathers.
Who were your influences coming up?
Loved anything with deep harmonies. Marvin Gaye. Take 6. The Association. Stan Kenton. Very early on, whatever my parents played. Soul,Jazz,soft rock.
When did you first realise you could make music as a career?
You can make music as a career!?!
What is your production set up like compared to when you first started out?
A lot more computer based, similar in function. Hybrid of organic sounds and synthetic with samples infused.
You first got known as part of The Procussions who were signed to Rawkus. How do you look back on those times in the group and what was it like being on the Rawkus label?
Probably the most fun period of my life. Lot of firsts happened with The Procussions, including Australia. There’s slot of fearlessness that comes with being that young. You experiment a lot. With music and life. Being on Rawkus taught us a lot about the business, marketing, presentation side of music. In a lot of ways I’m still learning of course, but a lot of it started there.
When and why did you decide to become a solo artist?
In some ways it just kind of happened. It’s still new to me. Being in a group takes compromise. Sometimes you don’t get all of yourself out in that setting. Though I felt like I got quite a bit out, watching my partner J express himself through solo projects showed me there was probably more inside me I might have held back unconsciously.
What creative challenges did you face going into solo artist mode?
Getting out of my own way mostly. Which really stems from insecurities or a lack of confidence in being solely responsible for the music being presented. It’s all on you now. Learning to just go without fear is still something I struggle with sometimes.
You recently released your debut solo album on House Shoes Street Corner Music label. How did the deal come about and have you been surprised by the reaction given some of the tracks are quite old?
House Shoes was the catalyst for that for sure. My dude Inka One in LA had to basically bully me to release the Beat Farm project. Shoes didn’t have to really bully me, but definitely instigated that music needed to be released. The reaction has been great despite the materials origin date. It’s put a fire in me to release a project with all new music on it eventually. We’ll see who has to bully me for that to happen. Haha.
For those unfamiliar what 5 tracks of your own best represent Stro Elliot?
Judging by response, I’d have to say Soul II Stro, Off The Wallstreet, Marvins Mood, Virginia Wolf, and maybe James Baby.
How would you describe the Stro Elliot sound?
Like putting deodorant on some who hasn’t showered in days. It sounds like a fresh idea, but there’s something funky under there somehow too weird?
You just came off the Jazzy Jeff Playlist Sessions which saw yourself and other artists team up to make an album from start to finish in a week. What was the experience like making a project in such a short amount of time and how did you find yourself to be part of the project?
Too much fun. But everytime I’m around those guys it’s too much fun. It’s a family environment for sure. Which makes the process almost feel effortless. I barely felt like there was pressure on the music side at least. We did what we always do. The writers and Mr. Glenn Lewis may feel different though. Jazzy Jeff was responsible for the collection of individuals involved. He seems to know the secrets to putting the right group of people in a room.
What were some of the difficulties you faced in making the album?
Choosing which songs to leave off. There was some incredible music left off that album.
What one thing did you learn from working on the project?
The value of collaboration and to not think too musically in the creative process. Cliche I know, but just letting it flow.
When and what can we expect to hear from the album?
I think around the 17th of February. We kind of went all over the place. Hopefully not in a distracting way. There’s a lot of influences amongst a group of that number. Most of which found their way into the mix.
What one artist would you most like to hear over a Stro Elliot beat and why?
Difficult answer being that from one day to the next my sound can vary I think. Off the top of my head, I’d love to hear what an Anderson Paak collab would sound like. But there’s really a number of artists I’d love to collab with.
What can the Australian and New Zealand crowds expect from your live shows?
Hopefully a good time. I’m a producer and a beat maker. More than a DJ, so I play things I’m into. It’s varied, but still very me. Hopefully there’s something for everyone in my set, even if only in spots.
What is the best piece of advice ever given to you?
Count it all joy.
What does the future hold for Stro Elliot?
I wish I knew. But if the present is any indication, a lot more music. Which is fine by me. I love making music. I love performing it as well. A heavy dose of both would make the future an ideal place.
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Grindin’ – The act of putting things in motion that may cause friction, but also create opportunities for refinement. – Stro’s Dictionary.
Interview by Duggs.