How Raves and Religion Inspired Keys N Krates' New Chart-Topping EP

"Midnite Mass" recently hit #1 on Canada's iTunes Dance Chart.
January 28, 2016, 5:08pm
Image courtesy of artists

It's a good time to be a member of Keys N Krates. The Toronto group—drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse, and turntablist Jr. Flo—recently reached #1 on the iTunes dance chart in Canada (#2 in the US) with their latest EP, Midnite Mass, propelled by the infectious single "Save Me" featuring UK vocalist Katy B (and its truly ridiculous video). Since beginning in 2008, they've evolved into seasoned producers, blending live electronic instrumentation with hip-hop, and signing to Steve Aoki's Dim Mak label in 2013. Currently on a massive North American tour with plenty of sold-out dates, and upcoming festival appearances including Bonnaroo, we recently chatted with them about their journey thus far.

THUMP: First off, congrats on hitting #1 on the Canadian iTunes chart. How does that feel?

Jr. Flo: We don't take any of that stuff for granted, or even expect it, so it's pretty awesome.

So are Keys N Krates going through a religious phase? Why the title Midnite Mass?
Jr. Flo: Matisse came up with that. We were thinking about Christmas at the time, and the landscape of the shows that we play. Not just the shows that we play, but rave culture historically, which is a religious gathering.

We were playing on that and the fact that we think the EP has a lot of angelic choir elements, it sounds spiritual and reflective at points.

There's a noticeable drum and bass influence on songs like "Save Me" and "U Already Know"—were you guys exposed to that culture growing up in Toronto?
Jr. Flo: We'll pretty much grab from anywhere, we don't pay attention to genres too much. In the end, we see ourselves as rap producers, even if we don't make music for rappers. If we feel our song could use an "Amen Break" or a gospel house vocal that sounds like it came from a 90s Masters At Work record, we'll use it—as long as it fits the vibe we're going for and suits our production style.

I was a hip-hop kid growing up in Toronto but I was getting booked at raves. I was hearing drum and bass when it was still called jungle. It was more organic sounding and not as hard. As a collective, we hear stuff like drum and bass at different festivals.

Can you tell me what's going on in the "Save Me" music video?
Jr. Flo: It's a surrealist movie if anything. I think the directors were really going for people and their attachments to objects, almost satirizing that in an absurdist way. When we do video for songs, we don't want to do one of us playing at a festival or some dumb shit that's too literal. We want it to be someone's take on the music.

Zane Lowe premiered "Nothing But Space" on his Beats 1 show. How do you feel Apple Music is changing the game?
Jr. Flo: I think it's cool because they're bringing specialty programming to a big platform. The curation is bananas with Soulection, OVO, Anna [Lunoe], the Q-Tip show. I'm sure Zane Lowe has a lot to do with it, he's always been ahead of the curve with music.

Outside of music, do you guys have any interesting extracurricular pastimes that you'd like to share with us?
Jr. Flo: I took up tennis last summer. Matisse started swimming. Tune plays squash. We're all in our mid-thirties so taking up new sports is a big deal to us. I don't know how crazy that is. I wish I could tell you I was really into freebase cliff jumping, but we're not that adventurous.

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Jesse is on Twitter.