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 â€˜everybody, anybody and nobodyâ€™ – 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.
â€œIâ€™m not sure which donkey in this band claimed this â€˜re-inventing the remixâ€™ bullshit but now weâ€™re stuck living up to this claim.â€ – 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 â€˜08 we were ready for our first show.
Matisse: Flo and I both had an idea about meshing DJing with live instrumentation but didnâ€™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 — weâ€™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 Matisseâ€™s case. We were the only two â€˜urbanâ€™ guys in the program, so it was a no-brainer that we should be in the same band. That was 10 years ago and weâ€™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: Itâ€™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: Itâ€™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: Itâ€™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. Itâ€™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: Iâ€™m inspired by some amazing drummers: Questlove, Daru Jones, Denis Chambers. Unfortunately they donâ€™t play the style we play, so Iâ€™m left making this up as I go along.
Format: What’s your favorite remix to perform?
Flo: That always changes. Iâ€™m really feeling â€œOne In A Milliâ€ right now.
Matisse: I donâ€™t really have one. Nah wait I do. Our â€œNowhere to Runâ€ remix or our â€œOne in a Milliâ€ remix.
Tune: I like performing our â€œNowhere To Runâ€ remix the most. I get to go off, son
Format: How does KeysNKrates live up to the claim of â€˜re-inventing the remix?â€™
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: Iâ€™m not sure which donkey in this band claimed this â€˜re-inventing the remixâ€™ bullshit but now weâ€™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 theyâ€™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 youâ€™re standing beside Floâ€™s turntables and youâ€™re jumping, causing his turntables to skip and you just keep on jumpingâ€¦ um, think for minute about it.
Tune: I love our fans, especially the ladies — no offense guyâ€™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! Iâ€™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 thereâ€™s so many places we havenâ€™t tapped yet so itâ€™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: Iâ€™m a fan of Vancouver – itâ€™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?
Matisse: Yup – definitely not our last!
Tune: Yes, it was definitely not our last; we had a blast! Iâ€™m not sure we will drive for 28 hours, there and back, again but we will return to Austin for sure.
“Itâ€™s always amazing to perform alongside people you respect or when people youâ€™re a fan of are in the audience. Our last show in New York we got approached by Crucial Keys who was wildinâ€™ out to our set, and we were all like â€˜dude, thatâ€™s the dude behind Alicia Keys.â€™” – 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! Weâ€™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 fugginâ€™ 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! Iâ€™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 werenâ€™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. Iâ€™m looking forward to just being in Whistler for a night. So nice up there.
Matisse: Iâ€™m going to rent a bike and go biking in Vancouver. In Whistler Iâ€™m going to sit in a hot tub thatâ€™s outside and then go to the Keg. Just like the last time I was there.
Tune: Iâ€™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: Didnâ€™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 girlâ€™s breast in the back. I mean I hadnâ€™t even said hi to Samantha yet.
Tune: Flo and Matisse handled hanging out with Samatha Ronson quite well, didnâ€™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 paparazziâ€¦ 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 werenâ€™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: Itâ€™s always amazing to perform alongside people you respect or when people youâ€™re a fan of are in the audience. Our last show in New York we got approached by Crucial Keys who was wildinâ€™ out to our set, and we were all like â€˜dude, thatâ€™s the dude behind Alicia Keys.â€™
Matisse: Questlove told us we were dope as hell. Kerry â€˜Crucialâ€™ Keys from Alicia Keysâ€™ camp just told me to keep doing what we were doing. Itâ€™s still taking some getting used to; having people youâ€™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 havenâ€™t had the opportunity to share the stage with many other drummers. Iâ€™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. Thereâ€™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!