Interview: Keys N Krates

Last night Suite903 got a chance to sit down with the guys from Keys N Krates after their show at the Mercury Lounge. Keys N Krates is a Canadian trio comprised of DJ Jr. Flo, drummer Adam Tune, and keyboardist Matisse. They are part of the pioneering group of artists that remix as a performance art, combining many influences including soul, hip-hop, electronic and pop, they could just as easily be remixing MGMT or Feist as Tribe or Mos Def. After the jump, read some excerpts from our conversation:

On Live Remixing:

"Basically we don't have a singer so we use the DJ as the singer and just interpret around him. When we're performing, we are essentially deconstructing a track and reassembling it in real time. Like at tonight's show, we took an MGMT track and threw a Dilla flavor on it. A lot of times we also take folksy-rock things like Feist and put a UK funky feel on it. We re-interpret tracks live onstage. The people who come to see us expect it. They know that we're just going to freak any track we work with. But there are no expectations on what the content will be because we're so varied." - Matisse

On their process:

"Matisse is our songwriter, he comes from a classical background so he's really into the songwriting aspect. It's pretty random though. Someone might hear a reverb on a guitar that they like, then we put it in the mix and use it in a totally different setting." - DJ Jr. Flo

"I am a trained classical pianist. So when I started branching out, these guys really helped me break out and learn to work with a group in a more informal setting whereas at first I was lost looking for some sheet music or something." - Matisse

On Recording:

"For the Live Re-Mixing 101 project we went up to The Farm in Northern Ontario. The Farm is literally a farmhouse with a recording studio that basically stopped buying gear in the '70s or '80s so all their gear is analog and tape. We recorded live straight to tape, it was awesome. Right now we are working on a lot of great stuff, both re-mixes and some original stuff. We're working with a producer named Grand Theft who's helping us out with some of the production and songwriting." - Adam Tune

Aside from a minor disagreement at the table over the superiority of ProTools (Tune and myself) versus Ableton Live (Matisse), Keys N Krates proved to be cohesive in both ideology and performance. Though there are many live groups that have DJs, it is unusual to see an ensemble that brings together all of the elements into a cohesive unit, using the turntables and mix equipment just as much as an instrument as the keys and drums, all the while feeding off of each other as a means to reinterpret the tracks. -Eric Sandler

Interview: Keys N Krates