Keys N Krates
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Keys N Krates

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Band EDM Hip Hop

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"Beyond the Music-Mixing up sounds with Keys and Krates"

When the art of turntablism harmouniously collides with keyboards and drums, the end result is the innovative music of Keys N Krates. The Canadian trio is “reinventing the remis,” and providing fans with surreal live musical experiences with every show, shaking up hits like Mo Def’s “Ms. Fat Booty,” Tribe Called Quest classics, The Fugee’s “Fu-Gee-La,” Talib’s “Get By,” Simian Mobile Disco’s “We Are Your Friends” and more. Consisting of award-winning DJ Flow, Matisse on keys and Adam Tune on drums, Keys N Krates is definitely an act that deserves your attention. And BRM got the change to get an interview with them in their downtime.

How did Keys N Krates become a group?
Tune: Basically, Matisse and Flo had a mutual friend that introduced them to each other. Matisse was always interested in playing with DJs, and Flo had similar ideas to form something with a band and turntables. I’ve been playing with Matisse for, like, eight years in other bands before that, and he approached me about checking out the project. I saw the vision, and it took up six months in rehearsal room to come up with Keys N Krates back in’07.
You guys are definitely doing something different with your music, but there’s been DJ/band collabos before, like Travis Barker and DJ AM mixes. What makes you different from these acts?
Flo: The Travis/AM thing is very different, with the only similarity being the DJ and drummer. Their music is amazing nonetheless. We don’t really play existing tracks and then just play over them, we build existing tracks from scratch using samples, keys, drums, and are more of a band instead of a DJ/drummer duo.
Are there particular types of songs you guts pick for your mixes?
Matisse: It’s kind of nerve-wracking. Flow will come up with a sample since we find it’s the easiest way to build around. Flo usually comes into the studio with an idea or a couple of acapellas or some examples of what he’s kind of cut up or looped into some type of pattern, and then from there Tune will either find a groove that will go with it or I’ll try to find a melody to use too.
What’s the time length to master each remix?
Tune: It used to take a lot longer to build the tracks, but now it’s taking longer to select and put together exactly what we’ll be playing, but generally, the good tracks come together pretty quick. We catch a vibe and go with it.
What are your plans for 2010?
Tune: We have the Winter Olympics coming up, and we hope to get into Europe a bit; do a lot more touring over there. We want to drop some type of new material and get on a major tour with a major act. We’re doing something very unique and want to tour around the world and fill the room with people who want to see up play live all the time.
Flo: We also hope to collaborate with a lot of artists that we are fand of. Hopefully one day, when we’re a bit more known, we’ll have the chance to do this.
- Beyond Race Magazine


"To Whom It May Concern: Keys N Krates Hip-Hop just found something new"

Keys N Krates have toured all of Canada and have started making their presence felt in the US. I haven’t seem them (DJ Jr.Flo, Matisse on keys and Tune on drums) live yet, but I keep hearing all this talk.I’ve got respect for the guys just from watching their videos on YouTube. Live instrumentation, turntablism and live sampling-I can’t hate on that, even if I’m not a fan of the artists and tracks they’re remixing right in front of me. Hip-hop, in my opinion, has been a stale ass pool of a genre for a long time-at least the shit most people are listening to. I don’t know if Keys N Krates are the answer, but they’re definitely bringing something new to the game. They’ve got a new fan over here at LIAS. If you’re in LA they’re playing at the Purple Lounge in the Hollywood Standard tomorrow, Friday night. We tossed them a few questions…make the jump to read the interview…
Allow us to introduce ourselves, I’m…Flowinsky, tune, and Matisse of the Live Re-Mix trio :Keys N Krates”.
You can find us…Toronto and New York
We’re usually posted up at…Wherever the ugly lights come on and the dirties start to scurry…
We pay our bills by…Music
You might’ve heard of us because…We take samples of existing music and transform the live (with turntables, live sampling, drums and keys) into our own nutty compositions.
Our next order of business is…We have a mixtape “Live Re-Mixing 101” presented by Urb Magazine, dropping mid-November which will be available online for free download. We are also working on our own original music that we look forward to getting out there and giving the live re-mix treatment to. That will be ready for Jan or Feb 2010.
If it weren’t Idiotic, disgusting, lowlife friend Abby Tobias we wouldn’t be where we are today because…He Introduced us all.
The best part about our job is…The free alcohol.
The worst part about our job is…The free alcohol.
If you want to put a smile on our faces, you probably want to…Give us food. Lots of it.
If you want to wipe that smile away, then you should…talk to loud, name-drop, act arrogant…a lot of things typical to music industry people.
The last time we saw the sun come up we were… It happens more often than not.
The person we admire most is…Bill Clinton for really breaking down the meaning of “is”,
The last time we lied was because…We wanted to avoid an overweight charge on our baggage.
If you hit shuffle on our iPods we’d be embarrassed if it landed on…We’re not embarrassed with anything we listen to. We’ll floss it.
If we were Lost in a Supermarket, you’d find us in the…In the end…probably the baked goods.
- LOST IN THE SUPERMARKET-INTERVIEWS & MIXTAPE


"Keys N Krates Live Re-mixing 101 Review + Download By UG Light"

Keys N Krates Live Re-Mixing 101 is both an album and a statement.
Every inch of it exudes a vibe of triumph and “we-have-arrived” excitement. KNK extends the moment when an artisit of DJ is building up to a break, hyping the crowd, and generating the thrill of musical crescendo, and extends it over an entire disc. They also produce a contagious feeling of community; you may well feel like you’re at a party even if you’re listening to it in your bedroom.
This dynamic is an egalitarian effort by all three musicians involved. The core of the KNK ethic is the sample, that ubiquitous modern cultural artifacts, that sparks both groove and recognition in the listener. But these are samples transported and transfigured; washed in melodies and pumped by rhythms alien to them. DJ Junior Flo provides these cultural flashpoints, and the drummer Adam Tune and keyboard player Matisse surround that cultural core with an irresistible architecture of party music.
One of the most shocking qualities of the album is how interested they manage to keep the listener, and how effectively they keep the party going. One would assure that track after track of deconstructed hits, while and engaging gimmick at first, would wear thin. But the members of KNK are capable of such versatility, and can so effectively build and release tension, that getting bored is almost impossible.
Their paintbox is nearly infinite, and this helps. The album begins with almost Prince-like keys and rhythms, with breaks that effectively hype you up even when you’re sitting down—a testament to Adam Tune’s rhythmic versatility. As this song segment segues seamlessly into the next, we’re greeted by the immediately recognizable Q-tip.
This first sample begins a long listener lover affair with the familiar faces that populate KNK’s musical landscape. There are more obscure textures involved, but the best moments in the mix involve instances of recognition that feel almost like epiphanies. When Lauren Hill’s voice busts through the cresting wave of music with the call “123…the group is called Refugees:, it’s actually physically difficult to keep still. And the all we need are the intro chords of “Next Episode”-no lyrics necessary-to completely lose our S*it.
This kind of sonic alchemy is no easy feat. Keys N Krates manage to balance innovation, experimentation and unexpected twists with recognizable and culturally explosive sampling touch points. The result, a live remixing experiment and landmark of modern remix culture, is one of the most suprising and engaging recordings of 2009.
For a taste of the Keys N Krates Experience and to download “Live Re-Mixing 101” just
- VAPORS MAGAZINE-MIXTAPE REVIEW


"Keys N Krates ‘Live Re-Mixing 101’Presented by URB.com (Podcast)"

URB.com presents Live Re-Mixing 101—the history of hip-hop and dance getting ripped apart and rebuilt in real-time by 2009 URB Next 100 alumni Keys N Krates.
Comprised of an award-winning DJ, Jr Flo, Matisse on keys and Adam Tune on drums, Keys N Krates rocked our world last year when they played the Taste Crew/URB Holiday party in NYC. One year later, and these guys from Toronto are taking their show across the U.S., including two SoCal dates this weekend.
Live Re-Mixing 101 features some of your favorite classic hip-hop tracks presented in ways you’ve never heard them before: Mos Def’s Ms. Fat Booty, Tribe Called Quest favorites, The Fugee’s Get By, Dr. Dre’s, Next Episode, Simian Mobile Disco’s We Are Your Friends and more.
Plus, check out the making of Live Re-Mixing 101 featuring interviews with Nick Catchdubs (Fools Gold Records), DJ Eleven (The Rub), Terry Urban and more.
- URB MAGAZINE-MIXTAPE REVIEW (NOV 18, 2009)


"Keys N Krates @ CMW 2009"

Keys N Krates @ CMW 2009

Wrongbar

Toronto, ON

on Mar 12 2009

Sarah Kurchak (CHARTattack)

03/13/2009 2:32pm

Rating: 4.5/5


Background / Composition:
"We reinvented the remix" is the battle cry of this Toronto trio. It's a pretty bombastic claim, but Keys N Krates mostly live up to their own hype with their live remixes — a combination of skilled DJ-ing and groovy live instrumental accompaniment.

Grade: 89

Comment:
There was not a better party to be had in the city last night than this midnight set. Within moments of taking the stage, the trio had worked the small but packed dance floor at Wrongbar into a sweaty, frenetic, hand-waving, screaming mess of fun. Standing on the edge of a flailing mass of limbs, I was less convinced at the beginning of the set. But before I could write it off as some silly hipster affectation, the group took Jay-Z's "Public Service Announcement" and transformed it into some crazy, almost Faint-esque dance rock epic. From that moment on, I was sold.

Achievement of Rock 'n' Roll Expectations
80-100: Exceeds skill and knowledge expectations, i.e. rocked us so hard we peed our pants.
70-79: Achieves required skills and knowledge. Meets rock 'n' roll standard.
60-69: Demonstrates some skills. Approaches rock 'n' roll standard.
50-59: Demonstrates some required skills and knowledge in a limited way.
00-50: Has not demonstrated required skills or knowledge.

Learning Skills: E=Excellent, G=Good, S=Satisfactory, N=Sad Really

Oral And Visual Communication
Eye Contact: G
Pronunciation: G
Stage Presence: G
Stage Banter: G
Image: G
Appearance: G
Use Of Stage: G

Strengths/Weaknesses/Next Step:
Keys N Krates live show might not be much to see, but they're not really the kind of act you go to see, anyway. There's no time for looking at the stage when you're grinding with your girlfriends and feeling the beat of the live drums, with your hair in your face, and you're totally thinking, "This is so much better than going to a club that just has a DJ spinning your favourite songs."

Musical Analysis
Level Of Participation: G
Problem Solving: G
Teamwork: E
Work Habits: E
Organization: E
Audience Participation: E
Sound: E
Composition: E
Songs: E

Strengths/Weaknesses/Next Step:
The kids at Wrongbar were clearly primed and already set to party by the time Keys N Krates took the stage, but the way they slowly continued to work up the crowd throughout the set, culminating in a sweet climax of an orgiastic mix of Motown hits, was really impressive. Those people on the dance floor probably had more fun than anyone else will have in the entirely of this Canadian Music Week.

Other Skills And Areas Of Interest
Charisma: E
Problem Solving: G
Teamwork: E
Sexiness: S
Haircut: S
Indie Rock Footwear: S
Nods To Disposible Fashion: S
Cool Equipment: E
Level Of Inebriation: S
Actual Ability: E

Strengths/Weaknesses/Next Step:
The one area of showmanship Keys N Krates might want to work on is leaving the audience wanting more. While the urge to do an encore after such a well-received set in understandable, it's probably one that should be resisted unless you've got something in your back pocket even better than your finale. The song that Keys N Krates returned to perform was by no means lacklustre and actually built to something fairly tit-rocking, but it did pale in comparison to the Motown-heavy mix that came before it. As a result, it left the audience in slightly less of a fervour then they had been before. - Chart Attack


"Keys N Krates - URB 'Next 100'"

This Toronto-based crew raises the bar for every "remix" artist and his Ableton Live. Turntablist Jr. Flo (of the highly-regarded Eh! Team DJs), keyboardist Matisse, and drummer Tune reinterpret dance floor hits and underground favorites, from Aaliyah to MGMT live on stage, putting post-production effects aside. In doing so, they don't just make party rockers, but rock parties their damn selves. - URB Magazine


"The Daily Bread - KeysNKrates"

KeysNKrates is not only a live-remix band but also an experience to behold. It creates hits from hits by incorporating old music with new. It is a one-of-a-kind performance experience that the band members claim sounds like ‘everybody, anybody and nobody’ – in other words it is a sonically dense and visually exciting package that everyone can relate to. KeysNKrates, with its synergistic approach to music, bridges the gap between the electrifying rawness of live performance and heart and soul of electronic music. Format got the chance to talk with Jr Flo (Turntablist), Matisse Francois (Keys) and Adam Tune (Drums) to find out what the band is all about and the lives they lead as live-remixing, show-rocking guys.

“I’m not sure which donkey in this band claimed this ‘re-inventing the remix’ bullshit but now we’re stuck living up to this claim.” – Tune

Format: Lets start off at the beginning, how did KeysNKrates meet and where did it all start?
Flo: Around summer of 2007 we started jamming and rehearsing. However we spent the first six months holed up in a rehearsal room without doing any shows. By February ‘08 we were ready for our first show.

Matisse: Flo and I both had an idea about meshing DJing with live instrumentation but didn’t know each other yet. Flo had started a project with some local musicians and I was trying to put together a unique jam with a local DJ and some promoter friends. Neither project was really working out. Our boy Abby told us about each other and we met up and hit it off. I then told my boy Adam Tune about it — we’d been playing together for years — and he was down for it. We all got [together] in a room and started jamming and the shit we were coming up with was phenomenal. We thought we should do a show. From our first show right up until now the response has been amazing.

Tune: Matisse and I met at music production school. Our first assignment was to put a band together and showcase our talents, or lack thereof in Matisse’s case. We were the only two ‘urban’ guys in the program, so it was a no-brainer that we should be in the same band. That was 10 years ago and we’re still arguing about who puts more energy into a show. Flo and Matisse met though our glue man Abby Tobias. Matisse wanted to play with a DJ and Flo wanted to play with Matisse – I was invited to watch.

Format: What’s it like being a live-remix band, always changing it up?
Flo: It’s a lot of fun, but we try and make remixes engaging enough that we can play them over and over again and improv within our predetermined structure.

Matisse: It’s like being in a rock band, DJ crew and production team all at the same time. Probably the most amazing experience, being onstage and rocking out with the crowd. Other than that it can be the most tedious thing coming up with some of these jams.

Tune: It’s not easy — it would be easy for us to play an A capella — add drums and keys and call it a day. Trying to keep things fresh, yet musical and interesting is the most challenging part in my opinion. Sometimes ideas come right away and other times we leave the rehearsal studio feeling like throwing ourselves off a bridge.

Format: Where do you get your musical inspiration?
Flo: Everything from Phil Collins and Kid Koala to Flying Lotus and Treasure Fingers. It’s all over the place really and we pretty much listen to and learn from everything.

Matisse: As funny as it sounds I get a lot of them from movies. Soundtracks. Different scenes I liked. Other than that I surf the net and grab any ideas I can, from anywhere I can. Blogs, photos, Myspace, whatever.

Tune: I’m inspired by some amazing drummers: Questlove, Daru Jones, Denis Chambers. Unfortunately they don’t play the style we play, so I’m left making this up as I go along.

Format: What’s your favorite remix to perform?
Flo: That always changes. I’m really feeling “One In A Milli” right now.

Matisse: I don’t really have one. Nah wait I do. Our “Nowhere to Run” remix or our “One in a Milli” remix.

Tune: I like performing our “Nowhere To Run” remix the most. I get to go off, son

Format: How does KeysNKrates live up to the claim of ‘re-inventing the remix?’
Flo: Basically we combine live sampling, turntablism, drums, and keys to produce remixes that are performed 100% live before your eyes. The result is a live musical experience like no other.

Matisse: Every time we go into the studio and nearly murder each other trying to agree on how to flip a song that is already good into something even better and then doing it live and re-remixing it again!

Tune: I’m not sure which donkey in this band claimed this ‘re-inventing the remix’ bullshit but now we’re stuck living up to this claim.

Format: What do you have to say about your fans?
Flo: They really seem to get what we do, and they’ve sort of gotten it from the beginning. The fans re-affirm that we are on the right track!

Matisse: Love you guys but next time you’re standing beside Flo’s turntables and you’re jumping, causing his turntables to skip and you just keep on jumping… um, think for minute about it.

Tune: I love our fans, especially the ladies — no offense guy’s — the girls just look so much better dancing. I once met a couple that planned a trip to New York from Chicago to see us play – much respect to those folks! I’ve since met others who have traveled to see us. How can you not be appreciative of that kind of love?

Format: With the new jet-lag lifestyle, where are your favorite places to perform?
Flo: Man there’s so many places we haven’t tapped yet so it’s hard to say, but right now I love our hometown, Toronto. New York is fun too, every time we rock a show there I feel like we are making some kinda moves.

Matisse: Anywhere hot. Anywhere we get to stay in a pimp hotel. Other than that, I love Van [Vancouver].

Tune: I’m a fan of Vancouver – it’s beautiful!! New York would be a close second. New York would be my number one if we had an easier time taking cabs with our equipment!!

Format: KeysNKrates recently performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival. Was this your first time performing there?
Flo: Yes.

Matisse: Yup – definitely not our last!

Tune: Yes, it was definitely not our last; we had a blast! I’m not sure we will drive for 28 hours, there and back, again but we will return to Austin for sure.

“It’s always amazing to perform alongside people you respect or when people you’re a fan of are in the audience. Our last show in New York we got approached by Crucial Keys who was wildin’ out to our set, and we were all like ‘dude, that’s the dude behind Alicia Keys.’” – Flo

Format: How was it to be part of such a monumental music festival? Are there any stories from the road worth sharing?
Flo: It was awesome! We’ll hopefully go back every year. Stories from the road? Well we drove there — 28 hrs from Toronto — nuff said?

Matisse: For me the festival definitely lived up to the hype. I fuggin’ loved Austin. It was like the Mecca of music down there. Everywhere you went, there was music and the vibe was on some hippie level – all love!

Tune: Overwhelming! I’m still amazed at what bands you get to see in small pubs and clubs! I was way too focused on music to get in trouble this time. Do this interview after our North West tour and book a few hours…

Format: I heard that KeyNKrates is heading out for a North West tour. What cities will you perform in?
Flo: This time it will only be Vancouver, Whistler, and Victoria.

Matisse: Whistler, Victoria and Vancouver – whatup!

Tune: Whistler, Vancouver, Victoria – Because of scheduling we weren’t able to make our dates in Winnipeg, Calgary and Saskatoon.

Format: Any other big plans while you’re out on the coast? Sightseeing perhaps? Flo: Probably not cause all the shows are so close together. I’m looking forward to just being in Whistler for a night. So nice up there.

Matisse: I’m going to rent a bike and go biking in Vancouver. In Whistler I’m going to sit in a hot tub that’s outside and then go to the Keg. Just like the last time I was there.

Tune: I’ve promised to go bike riding through Stanley Park with Mattise. I told him I will go if we can ride together on one of those tandem bikes. I would like to go up the mountains again… Vancouver is beautiful. Other than that, I plan on partying heavy.

Format: What was it like hanging out with Samantha Ronson?
Flo: Didn’t really hang out. Just kinda chatted for a minute. Her so-called road manager was a douche bag.

Matisse: It was funny because it kinda got ruined by Flo. I was single and making out with a girl that night and then Flo goes up and introduces me to Samantha as the guy who a minute ago was grabbing a girl’s breast in the back. I mean I hadn’t even said hi to Samantha yet.

Tune: Flo and Matisse handled hanging out with Samatha Ronson quite well, didn’t you boys!

Format: Did you ever have to deal with the constant paparazzi that follow her around and other high profile celebs you deal with?
Flo: Never really had to deal with that at all.

Matisse: No. I never want any paparazzi around me. A warning to you paparazzi… if you ever paparazzi me I will paparazzi you. See how you like being followed around.

Tune: I tried to call them before and make up a story about her and I but they weren’t buying it!

Format: What was it like working alongside major staples in the music industry? What tips of the trade were shared between fellow performers?
Flo: It’s always amazing to perform alongside people you respect or when people you’re a fan of are in the audience. Our last show in New York we got approached by Crucial Keys who was wildin’ out to our set, and we were all like ‘dude, that’s the dude behind Alicia Keys.’

Matisse: Questlove told us we were dope as hell. Kerry ‘Crucial’ Keys from Alicia Keys’ camp just told me to keep doing what we were doing. It’s still taking some getting used to; having people you’ve respected and admired for so long, give you respect and understanding right back. Most of them are usually still trying to grasp what they just saw us do, which is a great feeling.

Tune: Besides Questlove, I haven’t had the opportunity to share the stage with many other drummers. I’m a huge fan of Questlove so you would think I would have had lots of questions for him, but I barely got the nerve to ask him anything. He did give me some drum recording tips!

Format: Now that KeysNKrates has a bunch of large-scale shows under the belt, what’s next?
Flo: Hopefully more large-scale shows. We just wanna build our fan base however we can.

Matisse: More recorded tracks and we wanna hit the UK!! We seriously wanna jam out hard to the British. I guess getting out of North America and live-remixing the rest of the world. There’s so much dope music coming out from all over the place. Plus what’s better than traveling around and hearing all the different accents of the world?

Tune: Europe, festivals, touring and recording. I love traveling with these guys, and we have a great time performing. The studio will be our second home to the road in the near future, so expect some more singles coming your way soon!

More Info: www.keysnkrates.com / www.myspace.com/keysnkrates - Format Mag


"Hearty Magazine - Keys N Krates"

We sent the guys disposable cameras and then we developed the film and, in true Keys N Krates fashion, ‘remixed’ their photos.
By: Hana May
Artwork: Gillian Hurd

With a lot of recent negative energy in the music industry, people don’t seem to enjoy hip hop shows anymore. But Keys N Krates is hopefully changing that. They’re bringing back a positive vibe—think basement or summer block parties—which is fun, energetic and fresh. Playing tracks you used to love to get down to at your high school dances, mixing them in with recent chart toppers and adding their own rhythms and instrumental sounds–all part of their much-lauded ‘live remix’ approach. It’s a recipe for success and the packed sweaty dance floors are the proof.

My interview got off to a rocky start: Between three talented musicians, namely Jr-Flo, Matisse and Tune, and one journalist–all with formal educations–we can’t figure out how to work a simple three-way call. Finally between myself and the other two members on speakerphone, and Jr-Flo mediating, we think we have a breakthrough–If I yell just loudly enough and they yell back and poor Flo in the middle maneuvers the phones speaker to ear piece we can finally hear one another. We talk (er, shout) about their talents, training, idols and music collections. They tease each other like brothers and there is a chemistry between these guys that just seems to work. Perhaps most importantly, the guys seem like true friends.

Jr-Flo: Despite the fact that we have multiple music talents, people in school, none of us could figure out how to do a three-way call.

Hana: I have a degree you know.

Jr-Flo: No, I know. We all have one.

Hana: So like four degrees, no conference call.

Jr-Flo: Yeah, no conference call.

Hana: The first thing I want to know is how you guys all met?

Jr-Flo: Matisse.

Matisse: Where do I start? I picked up Tune off the streets he was broke and he didn’t really have any gigs coming through, so you know. I’m playing, I’m playing, I’m going to start over. Me and Flo kind of met through a mutual friend Abby, he put us in touch with each other and Tune has been playing with me in my band for years and we got into a room together and the three of us started jamming out ideas for six months straight and what we were coming out with was crazy and we were just trying to figure out how to do it. There was a lot of head knocking and arguing and inspirations and high fives and stuff and finally we eventually decided to do a show and our first show was sold out and everyone was going crazy so we kind of thought we had something, so we kept doing it.

Tune: For the record I have never given either one of these guys a high five.

Jr-Flo: I don’t know where the high five thing is coming from.

Matisse: Yeah, just give me a sec, I don’t like answering the first question.

Tune: Ok, now I‘m in a good mood because Matisse just said high five.

Hana: That put you in a good mood?

Matisse: Can you take the high five shit out? Just take that out, I didn’t say that.

Jr-Flo: The gist of it is that we met through a mutual friend.

Hana: What is band practice like?

Matisse: Flo comes in with a couple samples that he is into and I basically try to build a melody around there. Tune will try to build a groove underneath it and from there we just build it up, jamming out over and over again. New ideas come out with it and then after our rehearsal hopefully we have something that we can kind of try on stage until it becomes its final form and that’s kind of how we do each song now.

Jr-Flo: We basically go through a pretty non-traditional composite process. I mean nobody has really done what we do so we don’t really have a blueprint to follow so every rehearsal is kind of a bit different. We come in with these ideas and sometimes we end up not composing anything ‘cause we end up completely reworking the way a sample sounds on the spot, cutting it up differently or we end up going in a completely different direction with something so I mean were kind of creating the blueprint for how our rehearsals are supposed to happen as we go along.

Hana: Is any of the stuff remixed live or it’s all rehearsed?

Jr-Flo: It’s all pre-rehearsed and pre-composed songs like the way any song would be but there’s definitely, like, we sometimes leave room for improvisation within the predetermined structure but it’s definitely structured cause otherwise it would just sound like a jam band or a real mess which we don’t pride ourselves on being either one. Not that there’s anything wrong with jam bands, we love the jam band but we’re not really a jam band.

Hana: Do any of you have formal training?

Matisse: Yeah, I’m classically trained although I kind of had to un-train myself. Tune do you-

Tune: No.

Matisse: Tune has no training. Um, Flo.

Jr-Flo: I mean I definitely have no formal training except for, I mean I come form like a battle DJing background, so that’s my training but that’s anything but formal training.

Hana: What experience do you want the audience to have?

Matisse: Let Tune answer this one.

Tune: No, no, no.

Hana: Yeah. Come on.

Tune: Uh, I hate this question, this is the second time I got stuck with this one.

Hana: Oh, I’m sorry.

Jr-Flo: Ah, that’s hilarious.

Tune: I still haven’t come up with a good answer except I like to see people having a good time and dancing hard.

Hana: That’s a good answer.

Matisse: And you like to look at the girls.

Tune: I like to look at the girls and that’s my only answer I’ve been able to give for this one. I just like to hear that people had a good time, when they leave which so far ninety percent of the people that I’ve brought have. Or a hundred percent I should say.

Matisse: [Laughs.] Except the only guy that was upset was your Dad.

Tune: Yeah, except for my Dad.

Hana: Why was your dad upset?

Tune: Well he wasn’t upset, it was pretty rammed, I don’t know.

Jr-Flo: It was too crowded for his dad.

Hana: Well that’s kind of understandable.

Jr-Flo: His dad’s older, he wants to be comfortable.

Tune: Add that into the article, he’ll love that.

Hana: He’s maybe not your demo per se?

Tune: He really dug it, he really dug it.

Jr-Flo: Yeah, Matisse do you agree? Good time.

Matisse: I want us to be like the best ever live performing band, ever. Like at the point where people years from now when they look back on when they were younger and what they did they’ll remember going to a Keys N Krates show as one of the most fun times they’ve ever had.

Jr-Flo: Some girl said to me last night when I was DJing she was like, ‘I came to your Keys N Krates show in New York a few months back at SOBS when we opened for Questlove and I hadn’t been out in months because I was sick of going to shows and then when I saw you guys it reminded me of why I love music and why I love going to shows.’ And I was like that’s awesome. You know if people can walk away with that experience, like if we’re breathing some kind of new life into music for them that’s a big goal. That would certainly be attractive to me.

Matisse: You know if someone has been to our show and they bring a friend the next time, they’re not going to tell their friend to come out and see a great show and then be disappointed. That they feel like when they come back again they’re getting their moneys worth and they can tell their friends. We really try to make sure that every show we do whether it’s in New York City or, you know, Idaho, we’ll play a hundred and ten percent no matter what, we really truly get off on playing… [Laughs.]

Hana: Can I quote you on that too?

Matisse: I just realized how it came out but we’re big on the interaction with the crowd and when they get hype we get hype and it just goes back and forth this energy. Our relationship with the crowd is probably the number one thing I enjoy on stage. Just how to get that crowd interaction and that relationship going between us and them and I think that’s why the crowd responds to us so favorably for.

Hana: You’ve mentioned The Roots as someone you look up to. You opened up for Questlove what was that like?

Jr-Flo: Tune.

Matisse: [Laughs.]

Tune: I was petrified because Questlove is one of my all time greats, favorite drummers and to see him there, live, watching me play is pretty freaky.

Jr-Flo: We were all super nervous I mean-

Tune: Yeah, especially he walked in right during our sound check and nobody else noticed him expect for me. I was just grooving and everybody was fine and I got a bit of stage fright and I don’t get star struck very easy but that day I did.

JrFlo: I mean Questlove is probably one of the most relevant opinions in hip hop and just music in general today. And if there’s something that we’re similar it would be The Roots, so his opinion would obviously matter to me probably above anybody else’s opinion in music about what he thought about our stuff so to have him in the room was just like kind of crazy. Then after our set he came up and said, ‘Yo, that was really incredible’ and he really liked it so we were really all super relived and stoked cause you know it means a lot coming form somebody like that.

Hana: Yeah that’s awesome that’s a huge compliment especially from an idol.

Jr-Flo: Hell yeah.

Hana: Would you get star stuck again or are you good now?

Tune: I’m good. I’m good now, now I’ve gotten over it.

Hana: Now you can play in front of anyone?

Jr-Flo: [Laughs.]

Tune: Yeah I literally can, yeah.

Jr-Flo: [Laughs.] So we’ve gotten through the worst-case scenario.

Hana: Yeah, life is good from now on. How many songs would you say you each have in your playlists?

Jr-Flo: I don’t know about you guys but I have like a million. I know you guys listen to a lot of shit too.

Tune: 1000.

Hana: I’m sure you have more than that.

Tune: Literally 1,000…1,026. I get rid of all the filler.

Matisse: I have an iTunes with an iTunes list and then I have two different iPods so I got to kind of like think about it a bit probably like 50,000 I don’t know, does that sound right?

Jr-Flo: I can tell you that I have like about 1,000 gigs of music. So, if that helps.

Matisse: That’s a different question. We’ve never been asked before. We’re going to have to prepare for that one.

Jr-Flo: [Laughs.] - Hearty Magazine


"Q&A: Keys N Krates"

When a world renowned turntablist and two highly skilled musicians from Canada come together, an implosion of creativity is bound to occur. In the case of Keys N Krates, that is exactly what materialized. The boys from KNK, DJ JRFLO on tables, Adam Tune, the jam master on drums, and Matisse, the smooth operator on keys, have ignited a sonic boom. The three piece crew are constructing a revivalist movement where improvised re-mixes appeal to both hip hop purists and electro heavy hitters. Melding the precarious relationship between analog and digital enthusiasts, KNK finds a balance, performing live renditions of classic hip hop anthems and adding their own spin, sampling, splicing and re-producing mash-ups with organic instrumentation.

In a recent interview, Evil Monito got to talking with these rambunctious spirits about how they met, and what their goals are. The trio traded thoughts and in between spurts of silence (waiting for all members to convene), side conversations (that were equally entertaining) spoke of sleep deprivation, fate, spats of who had the highest pitched voice, and even a sly confession from one of the members (who shall remain anonymous) admitted, that at times, he lies to journalists. But it was all in good humor. When it came down to business, they each had something personal to share about their craft.

EM: To start things off, what type of music did you listen to as a youth?

Flo: I grew up listening to ’90s hip hop and soul. I idolized Tribe Called Quest, Primo, and J-Dilla. But my brothers listened to Metallica, Seattle grunge and bits of rock, which all influenced me. As years passed, I got into indie rock and dance music. Although I feel like rap has become stale, there are really good artists, like SA-RA (if you consider that rap), Black Milk, Kanye, Foreign Exchange, and Lil Wayne who I feel are all killing it.

But overall, hip hop artists aren’t taking risks. It is that fly by night mentality. The guys that are doing electronic and indy rock music are putting thought and innovation into their music. As a result, you have this really interesting pop music that is left of center. For instance, Passion Pit, their music can be catchy and poppy but their production is super interesting and avande garde. I think that is what is missing from hip hop. The avande garde that existed in the ’90s was there because artists were pushing boundaries and I don’t think that exists anymore.

Tune: Although I was raised in the suburbs of Toronto and rock and grunge took precedence, I was into hip hop. I was also into classical music. Nowadays, I play with a couple of other kinds of groups and jam with other musicians that play funk and rock. I do it to keep my chops up and see what other musicians are doing.

Mattisse: It was all about soul and R&B. I liked, and still appreciate artists such as Babyface, and Jodeci.

EM: How did you meet?

Flo: Mattisse and I met through a mutual friend and starting talking about music. We had an idea of doing a re-mix project with sampling, DJing, and live instrumentation. Mattisse and Tune have known each other for years, since college. And so the three of us hit it off and started making music.

EM: Furthermore, how did you guys conceive of forming this type of group, creating live re-mixes?

Mattisse: It has been a natural evolution for me. I admired DJs, and this was a natural step in my musical career. Flo and I tried to wrap our heads around this type of project. And so it began, but every day, I am learning something new.

Flo: I don’t know if I am the type of guy who believes in weird twists of fate (I may need a week to meditate on that), but I believe it was strange that we both had a similar idea. It was a result of me peaking into my party-rocking atmosphere and figuring out how I could incorporate my knowledge with other musicians.

EM: I could imagine it is a pretty arduous process, getting the instrumentation down in unison. Can you describe to your listeners how the recording unfolds?

Tune: When we are together and traveling, we practice beforehand and cram in rehearsals. It is tricky, and for the first 6 months, we tried to figure what we were doing. We had to discuss what a chorus is and what a verse is. Some of our tracks could have three different choruses, and then we come up with a rhythm and then, a blueprint of a track. Collectively, we just work it out. Recording, though, is a total different bowl of wax.

EM: Is there any qualms about which songs/music you work with? How does that selection process go down? Does it usually happen organically, like freestyling?

Tune: Flo comes up with samples and we go from there. He is the pickiest in the group, but he should be because half of his job as a DJ is to select music. Some of the music he pulls is workable, but other times, we veto it. Obviously, we spend a lot of time crafting the tracks. We try not to use anything too current and we definitely choose music that is timeless.

Flo: We take tracks that we can have in our show forever, like a remix of Paul Johnson’s “Get Down” or Jay Z’s “Public Serve Announcement” which is an anthem track that most people are familiar with. So if we can flip that in our own way, it is great. There is a way we are doing this where the ‘recognizability’ or the ‘universalness’ of it allows us to bring people in.

Lately, we have been doing more original music with less recognizable samples or just creating our own that goes into the live part of our performance. If we are trying to come up with o.g. music, it doesn’t really matter where we get the sample from. We might take it from a jazz record that nobody knows, or we might hear something in a record that we like and recreate it. I’ll then splice it up and during our live show, we’ll flip it with a timeless piece that isn’t so relevant.

EM: During your west coast tour, how was the response from the crowd?

Tune: The crowd was really responsive. We have been putting on good shows and we are always trying to push ourselves. We put out a lot of energy on stage and now the crowd is giving it back.

At La Cita in DTLA, folks were coming up to us and telling us that was the best live experience they’ve had in years. People from that show came out the next night to the Dakota Lounge as well. Everything we are doing is showing promise.

EM: Do you guys feel that you are introducing something/new inventive to hip hop?

Flo: Turntablism is a big part of the show so it automatically gives it a hip hop vibe. I do think we are doing something new in hip hop. Most people won’t go to a show unless a MC is rapping over a DJ or a live hip hop band is performing and they sound like The Roots. I feel we are bringing live dance music dynamics to hip hop and doing it in a fun, analog way. That makes it different. And I feel that the crowd appreciates it.

EM: Is there any particular artist or group that you’d like to collab with?

Flo: I think we could all agree that our top choices would be Portishead, Nerd, Gnarles Barkley, The Roots, Glitch Mob, Justice, and Flying Lotus.

EM: Any room for an additional musician? Do you plan on expanding?

Flo: We used to question adding a bass player until Mattisse learned how to layer his synths on stage. So I guess the answer would be, no. We have a great connection between the three of us. It wouldn’t be unheard of for us to produce a big show where we have an additional string section. However, the core of the band is us- we are KNK.

EM: What should your listeners/fans expect from you in the future?

Flo: We have a new mixed tape called Live Remixing 101 coming out in October. And from there, we have an original music/production that we will be remixing live, the same way we re-mix other people’s music. Expect the EP to be out in fall as well.

But in regards to the mixed tape, it was fun because we recorded it in a barn, straight to a 2 in. tape. It was just outside of Toronto and it was an analog only studio. It was straight out of the ’60s- which was really cool. The purpose of the mixed tape was to capture what we do live. So the idea of an analog tape was to give it a warm, vintage, old school feel. This is the way musicians recorded in the old days. It is that organic experience we are trying to convey to our audience.

http://www.keysnkrates.com/
http://blog.keysnkrates.com/
http://twitter.com/keysNkrates - Evil Monito Magazine


"Black Book - Monday Morning Hangover Ramblings"

KeysNKrates played a set of familiar club anthems live; they’ll take a hip hop track, remix it and play it with instruments and such. It’s the sickest DJ set ever, although I don’t think it’s a DJ set. The energy in the room was beyond description even though the crowd was less than a hundred. Collective Hardware continues to show me the new and the now and it always makes my head tilt. It’s not a club but an anti-club. This art gallery, studio collection of thinkers and triers and failures and successes and non-club club types are pushing limits, taking no prisoners and continually collecting bright and bold movers and shakers. In its’ undefinability it speaks of the possibilities of a new culture. The world I speak about here could have been described as “nightlife” a year ago. I need a new word now. - Black Book


Discography

KNK - Live Remixes Vol. 1

KNK - Remixg 101 mixtape

Photos

Bio

Dynamic Adam Tune on the drums, World Champion turntablist Jr-Flo on turntables, and the ever-soulful Matisse on the keys are doing nothing short of "re-inventing the remix."
Like nothing you've ever seen before, Keys N Krates combine live instrumentation, turntablism and live sampling to remix existing pop music and samples from MGMT to Jay-Z right before your eyes. Pushing the envelope beyond the ideals of laptop-centric remix culture, this unique trio changes the game by bringing an explosive live analog presence to their sought-after sound and performance.
The live re-mix trio was featured in Urb Magazine's "Next 100" issue and continue to receive countless co-signed features by Urb Magazine, Vapors Magazine, Spinner.com (AOL’s premiere music site), Beyond Race Magazine, Evil Monito, Hip Hop Official, Format Magazine, Discobelle and more.
Sharing stages with Kid Cudi, Steve Aoki, Questlove and Timbaland, KNK maintain a non-stop tour schedule throughout all of North America. The trio has recently taken their live re-mix sound to the studio crafting live compositions into signature recordings, slated to release new music mid 2010.