Life+Times Video Premiere: Keys N Krates “Understand Why”



Art takes time. For some artists, a concept is born overnight. While others involve more time. Really, timing is of the essence in any level of artwork. Keys N Krates, a Canadian electronic trio consisting of Adam Tune, David Matisse, and Jr. Flo – have an artistic formula that works. “It’s some real kind of band shit that’s communal working toward something not necessarily being able to make stuff super-fast like a lot of our peers. A lot of our peers are just banging out stuff so quickly. We kind of take our time,” says Keys N Krates turntablist Jr. Flo. The band’s smart use of time and talent is ever more apparent on their latest release, Every Nite EP (out now via Dim Mak Records). The EP combines dance music and hip hop seamlessly (and tastefully) without coming off as a desperate attempt in eking out a series of lackluster, repetitive “bangers.” Jr. Flo adds, “For us, it was like we kind of wanted to make something that felt like a mini album. It was like our first kind of crack at that – a bit of like a body of work.”

Here, Life + Times premieres the cinematic visual for Keys N Krates’ single, “Understand Why,” along with a snapshot of our conversation with Jr. Flo.

Cohesive Creative Process:

“The three of us come from really different backgrounds and really different perspectives. I have the sort of DJ-turntablist background. Matisse comes from a heavy playing in soul and funk bands, R&B kind of background. Tune comes from playing in lots of different kind of bands background and also in audio engineering background. We also have similar tastes in music – obviously similar enough that we’re able to make this pretty specific kind of music together. But also different enough that we have different tastes that our opinions are definitely gonna differ a lot from time to time. We’re also pretty strong in our opinions.
It definitely is challenging because it takes a while to push things through. Sometimes it takes us an hour to argue over how much reverb we use on a fucking snare drum, you know what I mean. But the positive part about it is that everything goes through a ton of scrutiny. We find that the final product that comes out, we end up all being pretty psyched on it – and that’s like a very good thing. It’s interesting because it kind of makes us a real band…We have the majority rules kind of thing, but two of us won’t be comfortable releasing something if the third guy is super unhappy with it. If two guys are really stoked on it and one guy isn’t, we at least make that third guy comfortable with it. We try and fix stuff about it. We’re all kind of cool with not loving every single thing, but we really want to be proud of it at the end of the day.”

Musicianship & Live Performance:

“There’s a lot of incredible music being made right now in electronic music – some of the best music ever; like some of the most interesting music ever. I think we’re in an incredible, incredible time for the music itself – for the performance, not so much. For the performance, standards are fairly low. I think the showcasing of the musicianship of people actually playing instruments is low. For me, whether that’s wrong or not, I don’t know. We’re not necessarily here to say that. I think a lot of people think we’re on this crusade to change shit. (Laughs) Whereas, we’re not really. We are happy to see people try new shit from a live performance perspective. At the end of the day, we’re performing the way that we know how to perform. It comes with its challenges and benefits. I think that’s the path we’ve chosen. You can really create your own world now. You don’t have to be looking at other shit all of the time. You really just can focus on creating your own world and creating your own fanbase – just sort of building your own amusement park. That’s what we’ve kind of focused on and that’s what kind of really worked for us.”

Keys N Krates Balance:

“One thing that we never do is sit around and stroke each other’s egos. We probably should maybe. (Laughs) We’re always just so on-task, working on the next thing….I would say Tune fucking works his ass off. He’s willing to work his ass off on something until it’s right. I really admire that. Matisse, he’s the same way too, but I think he’s very patient. He’s very patient to different processes, the way that different sort of people act. I think that’s a good sort of trait to have in the band. Matisse is very patient. Tune is very grueling and hard working through stuff. Being in a band with two other grown men at this age is basically like being married to two grown men at this age. It is a full-on marriage. It’s just like marriage where it has its’ challenges and you have to navigate around that person’s way of doing things and try and exist within the world of the marriage. Yeah, it’s a three-way non-sexual marriage. That’s what it is. (Laughs) What’s the term that people use? Polyamorous? There you go.”

Is a DJ a musician?

“Yeah, absolutely. There’s two angles to that. Is, like, a DJ-turntablist somebody that uses turntables to play a party, rock set a musician? I would say ‘yeah.’ I think if they have a certain level of skill [and] you’re just not matching songs together thoughtlessly – and they’re like a real DJ – I would say yeah, they’re a musician. If they’re a turntablist and they can scratch and they have technical ability, I’d say they’re definitely a musician. If they’re a producer, then definitely they’re a musician because they’re making music. They may not be a musician in the traditional sense…like somebody that can really play the shit out of one instrument, but I don’t know. With that being said, I think being able to play a MPC (music production center) or being able to play a sampler or turntable or DAW (digital audio workstation) is the same thing to me.”

Every Nite EP (via Dim Mak Records) is out now on iTunes.