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Interview: Keys N Krates

Mar 12 2013

With all the technology and gadgets available now the question of “is turntablism dead?” begs to be asked. So I did just that in a recent conversation with Canadian three-piece Keys N Krates. Matisse, Tune and Flo originally came together as a band and for that reason live instrumentation is still a big part of their live sets. Each brings something different to the table: David Matisse is the synth machine master, Adam Tune pounds it out on the drums, and Jr. Flo rips it up on the turntables. They’ve been on the rise since URB named them one of their “Next 100” in 2009 and 2013 is shaping up to be the year for a breakthrough. Keys N Krates has been flying high on our radar since their remix of Usher’s “Climax” and their latest release “Treat Me Right” with its trap beat has been getting major play since it premiered on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show. A full EP is set to drop on Dim Mak in the next couple of months but until then, here’s a little interview.

Nancy: How did you guys initially get together?
Matisse: We all met through a mutual friend (Abby) and had the same idea to form a band that messed with djing and sampling with live instrumentation. We started jamming together and it all of developed from there into us touring as this live remix band, and then eventually making our own music playing it in our live show.

Nancy: Between the three of you guys what’s the process like for creating music?
Tune: In the beginning it started with Greg (Flo) bringing in a sample and the whole band jamming around it to create something new. However, now it often starts with one of us creating a skeleton or an idea for an entire track (most often based around a flipped sample) and if everyone is digging it, we all start adding to it until it’s finished. Being that we formed as a band initially rather than a group of producers we all had our areas of specialty that came from our respective instruments. Flo was the sample guy, Matisse was the melody/synth guy, and tune was the drums guy. However, since we started really making our own beats and then translating those beats back into our live show, everyone has their hands in all areas when creating the track. For example, sometimes, Matisse will come up with the sample flip and Tune come up with synth parts. It all varies from track to track. In the end we basically sit in the room and argue and until the track gets finished.

Nancy: In 2009 you were named one of URB’s “Next 100.” Do you feel like being included on lists like that adds any sort of pressure? Since then how would you say your music has progressed?
Flo: We never really saw that as pressure, we were just stoked at the recognition and some of the doors it opened for us. Our music has of course progressed because we really started primarily has this live act doing these live remixes and rap covers, and have now formed into a full out production outfit making electronic-ish rap beats, that plays that music live. The thing that hasn’t changed is that we are still a live dance party when you come to see us and that really been an important thing that we’ve all wanted to preserve. We are always trying to find a balance between making our music cool and interesting and something you can take home, but will still make people go ham in a live setting.

Nancy: Answer this: Is turntablism dead?
Flo: No, but Dj battles are.

Nancy: What do you prefer to use: Pro Tools, Logic or Ableton and why?
Tune: Ableton. It just works for us. It’s quick and easy and let’s us get ideas out fast, and we are also able to use it effectively live to trigger Matisse’s synth vsts.

Nancy: How did you guys get linked up with Dim Mak and what’s that been like so far?
Flo: Keith from “Autoerotique” heard me previewing some of our tracks that were working on and was really liking them. He sent them to his people at Dim Mak and they all got really excited and were keen to do a release with us. Shout outs to Keith! Dim Mak team seems good and excited and we’re happy to be working with them on these upcoming releases. Stoked to meet the team in Miami at the upcoming WMC.

Nancy: Can you tell us more about your EP that’s coming out on Dim Mak in the next few months?
Matisse: The EP is in the works. It will be an expansion on the sound we’ve been trying to create with the single “Treat Me Tight”. Expect fun and interesting rap/trap beats that are bass heavy and take you to emotional places.

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