The MMIBTY Interview with Keys N Krates


A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Toronto-based trio Keys N Krates headline San Francisco’s Summersalt Music Festival. In the interview below Jr. Flo or simply “Flo” says “We consider ourselves ‘weird rap beats’ that people like to dance to”. If that isn’t a brutally honest and accurate description then I don’t know what is – but I might consider taking out the word “weird” and use something like “cool”, “funky”, or “bangin'”. Summersalt wasn’t the first place I’ve seen Keys N Krates, and the four of us who founded MMIBTY have been all about them for years. While the guys (drummer Adam Tune, synth/keyboard aficionado David Matisse and internationally award-winning turntablist Jr. Flo) throw down thumping sets heavily tied to Hip Hop, they’ve gathered a following of both fans of Electronic/Dance and Hip Hop which makes their music widely appealing and is a reason they’ve gained such acclaim. This month the boys released their Every Nite EP on Dim Mak records and to support it they’re in the middle of a two-month North American tour with Gladiator.

Amidst the hectic touring schedule Keys N Krates took the time to answer some of our questions. Thanks to Adam, David, and Flo for the words! Check out the interview below and make sure to grab their new EP and support them on tour!

*Special thanks to Sean Wilcox for giving us a hand with the questions!* (MMIBTY): What is your group’s creative process for music production? We realize there might be a long or elaborate answer to this but it stems from the fact that you all play different instruments on stage and have a hybrid feel between live band and DJ
Keys N Krates (KNK): Flo:  Generally we are all looking for ideas and sounds all the time.  When one of us finds a cool sample, or comes up with a good idea, they bring it to the collective, and if we are all digging it, we work on it.  Sometimes we jam these ideas out live in rehearsal and sometimes the ideas go straight into ableton and get worked on as a track right away.

MMIBTY: How has your style/sound evolved over the years? Where do you see it going? Have you phased out a lot of your sample-based producing for more original programming?
Matisse:  I think on the SOLOW ep we started to come into our own as producers, making weird rap beats that are big and bassy, and have a dance element, but also use weird drum sounds, and weird source sounds that you wouldn’t necessarily expect.  We also try to make our stuff as musical as possible and feel like a song as opposed to just a track.  With this ep, I really think we further developed our style and really made no compromises on making the ep with the sound that we wanted.  I think our sound is getting more emotional, and more weird, yet more poppy and song oriented all at the same time.

Flo:  We haven’t stopped sampling.  We just can’t really illegally sample anymore because our music is up for sale on iTunes.  We are now sourcing places where we get legit samples from, or we are creating our own by sourcing weird sounds or different vocalists to execute ideas we have.

MMIBTY: I’ve seen you perform at an intimate venue such as Boston’s Wonder Bar but I’ve also seen you headline a music festival like San Francisco’s Summersalt a few weeks ago. You’ve been invited to play major festivals like Ultra and Tomorrowland but you keep it true to concert venues and clubs around North America. Do you guys have a preference on what type of setting you like to perform in the most? What makes or breaks a performance for you?
KNK:  Tune:  We’ve always loved playing festivals because it breaks you to a whole new audience, but to be honest, now that we are developing our core audience, it’s almost more fun to play the club/venue shows because we are typically playing to a full room of our fans who know all our music and go bat shit crazy for what we do.

MMIBTY: Dim Mak records is known, in large part, for cultivating artists who throw down bangers. You guys certainly fit that profile but your style is a bit of an outlier compared to other Dim Mak artists and even from Steve Aoki himself. How did you gain the ear of the folks over at Dim Mak?
KNK: Flo:  Yes we are pretty different from what else is on the label.  I think we got signed to them because they are trying to diversify their roster and wanted something new, fresh and different.

MMIBTY: Name three Hip Hop lyricists you’d drop everything to produce a track for
Flo:  Meek Mill
Matisse:  Drake
Tune:  Busta Rhymes

MMIBTY: How do you guys settled band-related disputes – whether it’s an artistic direction or what meal to eat before a show?
KNK: Matisse:  For the most part it’s majority rules, but when it comes to creative stuff, we need everyone to feel good about the decisions we make.  For the most part if someone is super uncomfortable with something we don’t do it,, whether it be a direction of a song, or whatever.

MMIBTY: No joke, I had the TV on as I was writing these questions and this commercial came on. The TV was muted and I was listening to your “Safe With You” remix. It lined up perfectly. Thoughts?
KNK: Flo:  I guess that’s pretty cool?

MMIBTY: Speaking of TV, have you been approached about having your music featured in any commercials or promos? NBA season is coming up… could be a good fit there, maybe summon your inner TNGHT
KNK: Tune:  Ya we’ve had a few offers, some of which we’ve taken and some which we’ve turned down.  For the most part we don’t have any problems licensing our stuff out to whatever, but we don’t really think about it all that much when writing our tunes.

MMIBTY: I don’t consider you guys “EDM” but I think it’s safe to say a lot of your fans are people who prefer the electronic and dance side of music. No one likes to play the genre game, but from where you’re standing how do you see yourselves set up for the inevitable cyclical behavior of music genres (IE: rap was popular then EDM took over but that can’t possibly last forever)?
KNK: Flo:  We don’t really know.  People ask us this all the time, and it’s hard for us to answer, because we don’t necessarily claim to know where the entire landscape of music is moving towards.  We just do what WE do and hope people continue to dig it and that music climate is conducive to us sticking around.  We consider ourselves “weird rap beats” that people like to dance to.  Hopefully there will always be a demand for that, cause there certainly now.

MMIBTY: When you guys aren’t in the studio or on the road what do you find yourselves doing?
KNK: Tune:  We like to eat an argue a lot,, often at the same damn time.

Keys N Krates & Gladiator Every Nite Tour Dates:

9/18 – Phoenix, AZ – Monarch Theatre
9/19 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues++
9/20 – Los Angeles, CA – El Rey Theatre++
9/24 – Seattle, WA – Showbox Theatre @ SoDo (Decibel Festival)
9/28 – Fairburn, GA – Tomorrowworld**
9/30 – Whistler, BC – Garfinkles
10/1 – Revelstroke, BC – Treverse
10/3 – Edmonton, AB – Encore
10/4 – Sacramento, CA – Launch Festival**
10/5 – Calgary, AB – Commonwealth
10/7 – Boise, ID – Revolution Center
10/8 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Depot
10/9 – Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre
10/10 – Ft. Collins, CO – Aggie Theatre
10/11 – Colorado Springs, CO – Rawkus
10/14 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
10/15 – Austin, TX – Empire
10/16 – Baton Rouge, LA – Varsity Theatre
10/17 – Biloxi, MS – Kress Live
10/18 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues
10/19 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay Theatre
10/21 – Murfreesboro, TN – Tempt
10/22 – Chattanooga, TN – Track 29
10/23 – Asheville, NC – Orange Peel
10/24 – Charlotte, NC – Chop Shop
10/26 – Buffalo, NY – Waiting Room
10/28 – Syracuse, NY – Westcott Theater
10/30 – Boston, MA – Middle East
11/5 – Pittsburgh, PA – Rex Theater
11/9 – Carborro, NC – Cat’s Cradle