Damu The Fudgemunk РConversation Peace (Def Press̩ Label) [album]

Def Pressé and KPM/EMI Announce All-Access to the Iconic KPM Archives;
As Previously Sampled by Madlib, Prince Paul, MF DOOM, J Dilla, Gorillaz, & More

Two New Series Allowing Select Producers, Including Stro Elliot, Chris Dave, J-Live, and More, to Both Sample the KPM Library And Add New Music Into the KPM Library

This is the first Release, Conversation Peace by Damu The Fudgemunk.

Listen on Apple Music

London-based label, Def Pressé, is thrilled to announce its exclusive partnership with KPM/EMI to officially open KPM’s iconic music and sound design library for the first time ever. A production music label dating back to 1956, the KPM library contains over 30,000 original recordings of non-commercial music made for licensed use in television, film, radio, or any other media outlet. Ranging from cinematic symphonic themes to bizarre sound effects, elaborate environmental landscapes of computer-synth orchestras to film scores, these licensed recordings, commissioned without the pressure of generating commercial hits, have long been a treasure trove for producers digging for samples. This adventurous undertaking, initiated by Def Pressé in affiliation with EMI Production Music’s hip-hop outfit The Real Fifth, will see a handful of carefully selected composers and sound-excavationists creating all-new records alongside an array of featured singers, rappers, and instrumentalists, to be released by Def Pressé in two forthcoming series: KPM Crate Diggers and KPM Originals.

The KPM Crate Diggers series will consist of new albums by select producers made entirely of samples from the KPM archives, as well as German-based library music labels Coloursound, Selected Sound, Themes International, Conroy Recorded Music Library, and Francis, Day & Hunter, all of which Def Pressé artists also have exclusive access to. These releases will be entered into the KPM archives for future use as “library music,” making these producers “KPM Artists” in their own right. The KPM Crate Diggers series will kick off with Damu The Fudgemunk, and see forthcoming releases from Stro Elliot (of The Roots), J-Live, Chris Dave and many others to be announced in the coming months.

The KPM Originals series will see new albums composed of entirely new, sample-free compositions, released by Def Pressé and added into the KPM archives, also for future use as “library music.” Artists confirmed to participate in the KPM Originals series include Bastien Keb, Corey King, and Chris Dave, with more to be announced in the coming months.

Kicking off the KPM Crate Diggers series is Conversation Peace, a new album from Damu The Fudgemunk, the Washington, DC-based musician and producer known for his many collaborations with Raw Poetic, Archie Shepp, Blu, Flex Matthews, and others, in addition to his own acclaimed solo work. “Damu the Fudgemunk came to our studio in London to carefully dig his way through the whole KPM 1000 series,” says Peter Clarke of EMI Production Music. “If anyone is in doubt about sampling being an artform, they just need to watch him work! It’s great to breathe new life into all these old recordings, too. And then place it straight back into library music for use in media. Exactly how it was originally intended.”

Developed in the mid-’60s, the now-iconic KPM 1000 series launched the golden years for KPM, with the birth of “Greensleeves” albums (named after their consistently plain-green record covers). Currently, the classic KPM archives boast over 30,000 original recordings by acclaimed library composers such as Keith Mansfield, John Cameron, The Mohawks founder Alan Hawkshaw, The Shadows drummer Brian Bennett, David Bowie, The Beatles’ collaborator Alan Parker, and Exotica pioneer Les Baxter. KPM has extensively recorded at studios such as London’s Angel and Abbey Road (The Beatles recorded most of their albums here during the KPM 1000 recording era).

A massive amount of work has gone into taking care of these aged reel-to-reels, vinyl records, and DATs. They have been painstakingly digitized and made available to Def Pressé exclusively and the selected artists working on these projects.

“For years, all of these old archive tracks have sat dormant on the LPs—undigitized and only discoverable by those that had copies or had enough money to get them via Discogs or Ebay,” says Paul Sandell, Senior Content and Distribution Manager at EMI Production Music. “There’s a huge amount of pride here at EMI PM about KPM, and the other archive libraries. Not only is this music an important document of television music from the time, but it has a far wider cultural impact – whether from the theme music to a cult TV show, the sleazy funk of an erotic exploitation flick or as music sampled by the likes of Jay-Z, Drake, Florence and The Machine, and many more.”

“KPM has always been there with us for as long as I collected records,” says Def Pressé founder Matt Moat. “While digging for records, it would always be a straight pick-up, no need to listen. Their records were collectables and coveted as such. It was always a dream to somehow be connected with this library in a fuller way. The moment I met Pete and we discussed what EMI Production Music had been doing with the catalogue, I had to dream up a way Def Pressé and our friends could take this stuff, flip it, and end up as ‘Library Musicians’ ourselves. To be able to contribute to the KPM Library means the world to all of us.”

“The relationship between hip-hop and library music has always been strong,” adds Sandell. “But this project really unifies the process between the library and the creative input of the producers. It’s a high five between the two to say ‘look what’s possible.”

From Damu…

The music that would become Conversation Peace began with a trip to KPM’s London HQ in late January of 2020. I had just finished wrapping up post production on my album Ocean Bridges with Archie Shepp and Raw Poetic. I actually received the invitation during the summer of 2019 during studio sessions for Ocean Bridges and scheduling for the top of 2020 made the most sense. So I packed up a few records and a few drum machines then embarked on my first trip to England. Upon arrival, I was speechless when I walked through the doors. I thought to myself, “this is really happening”. We had a quick meeting about expectations, then it was time to see the archive. As a record collector, I’m very familiar with the legacy of the KPM brand. I had been lucky enough to find a few over the past decade during my digging trips up and down the east coast, but looking at the complete vinyl catalog was a great privilege. I anxiously began combing through records from morning to night looking for the right sounds. The whole experience was surreal. Listening to the entire catalog was a history lesson and the amount of great composers and compositions in the recordings was endless. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t somewhat overwhelming. As a producer looking for textures, inspiration and grooves, the abundance of those things made it extremely difficult to narrow down what I wanted to use. From drums to sound fx to orchestras to small rhythm sections to ambient noises, I heard a wide variety of things and they were all so well produced and recorded. Every instrument you can think of was there! I spent a little over a week capturing sounds knowing that my work was cut out for me when I returned to my home in DC. Once I got home, I got to work. I captured so much, that it took me about a month just to organize all those ideas. Little did I know the world would drastically change in the next month following my return. My flight to and from London would indefinitely be my last time traveling for a while. I worked diligently with the material and took my time making sure I had strong ideas. The history of KPM and the opportunity to collaborate with the prestigious lineage made the stakes very high for me and I knew I needed to deliver a quality product. It’s an honor to be the first artist to release a KPM Crate Diggers title.

Once I had most of the instrumentals done, it was time to reach out to vocalists. I went to my friends first because I wanted to extend this honor to them to be a part of a KPM record. Raw Poetic and Insight Innovates are two of my closest friends. Blu and I have a long history of working together. In addition to my friends, this marks the first time I’ve collaborated with Nitty Scott. I had become a fan over the years thanks to a mutual friend we share. I was really hyped to get Nitty on this project. With the kind of year we had in 2020, all the guests contributed lyrical concepts that reflect exactly what we witnessed to that point (late summer 2020). I didn’t give much direction at all and everyone brought serious narratives to this album. I also wrote and contributed vocals to three tracks. I think the most relevant area of the album is the “Four Better or Worse Suite” parts 1-4. The lyrics detail much of the spirit in the USA then and now. I personally went through a lot in the year and having this project to focus on kept me grounded throughout ongoing chaos. Quite honestly I was under a lot of stress when I made much of the album. The Def Presse and KPM teams were extremely supportive while I navigated life, art and my commitments to business. Looking at the finished product, I’m very happy with this work. I’m excited for my existing fans and new listeners to hear my latest ideas. The title Conversation Peace came to me well after the album was done. This record is certainly a celebration of the KPM library, but I felt it needed a title that represented the commentary and the term Conversation Peace popped in my head. The way I produced and arranged the music, I felt each vocalist offers an essay of sorts and the extended instrumentation balances each number so the listener has space to reflect on the ideas presented by each lyricist. That’s why the title made sense to me. The vocalist initiates the conversation and the audience has room to form their own opinions.

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