A Sit Down With DJ Keys N Krates

Dance music as we know it has evolved into a force that the mainstream has borrowed and copied from for decades, each year ushering new sounds and trends. For the Canadian trio of Keys N Krates, they are less focused on the sounds of the now as they are re contextualizing the sounds of the past, leading to results that, incidentally, are trendsetting in their own right.


“Being three people, we always say it’s our greatest advantage and our greatest disadvantage.”


Explain your love/obsession/general affinity for 808s and pitched up vocals?

We love pitching vocals up because we find it just brings out this hectic emotion and energy in them. It also reminds us of so many great reference points, from Just Blaze to UK bass music. And really, what’s better than an 808 kick?

When you were growing up, what were you listening to?

I was listening to rap music, some house like Masters at Work and the Strictly Rhythm-type 90s house, like I’m a 90s child, so I was buying like house records and hip hop records at the same time…and the thing is, I was always more into rap music I think because I lacked the context of early 90s house, like I would buy the records, and I loved the records, but unless you were going to warehouse parties or going clubbing in the early 90s you didn’t quite understand house music the way you should, and I think I sort of lacked that. I knew it secondhand from older friends, but I was like a bit young to be going to house clubs, but I was going to rap concerts and in DJ battles from a really early age, so I was part of hip hop and b-boy culture really early on…Matisse was always super into R&B and soul and stuff like that, and Tune was also into hip hop as well, but he was into all kinds of music, he listened to a lot of rock…Tune loves Phil Collins.

Top artist, DJ, producer on your radar.

Drake, Hudson Mohawk, Hit Boy, Party Next Door, Meek Mill, A$AP Mob…

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

Probably our new lighting tech. His name is Hunter and he’s from Oklahoma. His story telling is second to none. He’s a real character. You just sort of have to meet him. He’s also a bad ass on the lasers though.

In the studio, as a collection, what is your strongest suit? and what would you like to improve upon?

We have three of us, so there’s a lot of good ideas always coming from someone. I think when an idea gets laid down, there are three minds scrutinizing it. So it’s really hard to get past that wall if the idea isn’t really good. The downside is that there are three of us in the kitchen and it takes a really long time to make little decisions, like — do we like this entire song, do we like the sound of that snare, is there enough reverb on that hi hat. Whereas if you’re one dude, you just make those decisions and it just is what it is. It’s really a double-edged sword.

You want to be remembered for?

As some crazy Canadians that made some good-ass music that was really needed at the time. One can only aspire to that.

How do you typically go about seeking out collaborations and choosing which songs to remix?

Well for the most part we grab samples, ideas, and source ideas that inspire us individually and present them to the rest of the group. If everyone digs it, we will all work on it until it becomes a beat or a track or we scrap it. The three of us are always digging for sounds and samples, so it really just comes down to what we get ideas with. We haven’t done a tone of collaborations yet. We’ve brought in some vocalists and rappers to sing and rap stuff that we’ve gone back and chopped up to make tracks with. We haven’t collaborated with a ton of other producers yet, because working among the three of us is already enough of a collaboration.

The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Use as few sounds as possible to get your point across when making music.

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