Behind the Beats: Keys N Krates

September 30, 2014 By:
Behind the Beats: Keys N Krates

Keys N Krates formed as the brainchild of drummer Adam Tune, synth/keyboard aficionado David Matisse and internationally award-winning turntablist Jr. Flo. The Toronto trio came together in 2008 with the desire to bring their blend of live electronic instrumentation to the stage. They've often been referred to as the world's only “trap band,” a title they reluctantly accept. Tune says it best: “At the end of the day, people are going to call us whatever they want. We are referencing everything from classic house music to Timbaland in our beats, but I think the trap references tap into what the current sound is, and we are okay with that.”

Perhaps what truly separates Keys N Krates from the mass of electronic and hip hop producers out there is the unique show they create by performing their bassy beats as a band, completely live. When you go to a KNK show, you will see their music and the music of others morphed and turned on it's head using only drums, keys, turntables and live sampling. This unique style creates not only a crazy dance party, but an experience and vibe like no other. 

Get to know more about Keys N Krates:


When and how did you first decide music was your life?

Flo:  We were all doing our thing individually before this band, but I think this band kind of made us all drop everything else and be 100 percent about music.  

Tune:  Ya, when I quit my job and sold my house to be in this band, that's when I kind of knew (laughs).  

Matisse:  Yup! 


Who gave you your biggest break in music?

Matisse:  I don't think there's any one person or thing that's given us a "break", but rather a series of small things happening that have gotten us to where we are today.  


What equipment do you use for production? What about DJing?

Tune:  For production, we use Ableton and some midi controllers.  For our live show I use a Roland Spd-sx, with tons of pads to play out those 808s and drum samples you hear in our tracks.  Matisse uses Ableton to trigger VSTs, and allow him to chop samples live.  Flo uses Serato Scratch live with a midi controller that allows him to chop up samples and have effects.  


What's the toughest part of the DJ lifestyle and how do you deal with it?

Flo:  Well only one of us is a DJ and that's me.  We are a band and with that comes a bit of a different lifestyle.  DJs go for dinner whereas we do a 2 hour soundcheck.  DJs roll through an airport with a napsack, while we schlep a bunch of gear around.  Our lifestyle is probably closer to a punk band than a DJ act.  


How would you describe your process of creating a song from start to finish?

Matisse:  The three of us are basically always digging for new ideas, whether it's a sample to chop up, a chord progression, or a drum groove.  Those ideas get presented to the other two guys and if we are all feeling the idea, we will mess with it until it becomes a tune or it gets shelved. 


Who has been your biggest inspiration musically? 

Flo:  Too many to name.  Everything from Prince to Just Blaze though.

Tune:  Phil Collins has always been my jam.  

Matisse:  A lot of RnB stuff from the early 90s that Teddy Riley produced has really stayed with me.  


Dim Mak


What’s the one song you love playing in your set right now?

Flo:  I think we all love playing "Hypnotik" off our new EP and this live flip we have of Hudson Mohawke's "Chimes" tune.  


Who is your favorite up and coming artist right now?

Flo:  Party Next Door or this dude Ouici.

Matisse:  Majid Jordan

Tune:  123MRK is my shit right now.


What’s the one food you always include in your rider?

Matisse:  Veggie platters are a must.


Where do you see electronic music going in the next 5 years?

Flo:  I don't feel like we are really qualified to answer that question.  We are just doing what WE do and hope people keep digging it.  


Tell us about your current Every Nite tour. What stops are you most excited for?

Tune:  I can honestly say we are equally excited to play everywhere.  The point of this tour was to hit as many places as we can.  We are playing 47 shows on this run so that's pretty exciting.  A show in Eugene, Oregon can be just as good as a show in L.A. or NYC.  We just want to play everywhere man.  



Tell us a little about your new EP Every Nite. What was the inspiration behind the project?

Matisse:  We really wanted to make somewhat of a mini-album.  We wanted the music to feel right in a club setting or at one of our shows, but also translate to your home stereo.  

Flo:  We wanted it to bang and have emotion at the same time.  

Tune:  We wanted to draw from UK bass music, house music, rap music and just combine everything to make an ep that you can't quite put your finger on, but somehow makes sense.  


What is your favorite track on the EP?

Matisse:  My favorite tunes are "Your Love" and "She's So High."  

Tune:  For me it's probably "Are We Faded."

Flo:  I think "Understand Why" or "Hypntoik", but it's always changing for me.