Published Jan 26, 2016Keys N Krates are quickly becoming one of Toronto's biggest exports. After a slew of singles and EPs over the last couple a years, some key sets at festivals, and racking up millions of plays online, the trio — Adam Tune, David Matisse and Greg Dawson — have just embarked on a North American tour, with plenty of venues having sold out before their plane left the tarmac. On top of that, they've just dropped their new EP Midnite Mass on Steve Aoki's label Dim Mak. But still, the band are quick are to give props to their hometown.
"I feel like Toronto has really shaped our musical tastes," Keys N Krates turntablist Dawson tells Exclaim! "We've all been exposed to hip-hop there, and dancehall. The city is important because it's always had a big electronic music history. There's always been a lot of drum & bass in the '90s and stuff like that, so all those musical elements of Toronto have seeped into our taste in music and the way we make it."
Where a lot of acts in the EDM scene are seen behind a laptop or some other paltry setup, KNK perform as a full band with keyboards, drums and decks — something Dawson says is vital to what makes them such an enjoyable live act. Even still, he also sees the swirling hype of acts like Flosstradamus and Major Lazer as something to be marvelled at. Luckily, the trio have managed to take a slice of both worlds, offering up a high-octane performance that doesn't need to hide behind the trimmings.
Another key to their success is the group's open-door policy when it comes to varying styles. KNK remain almost impossible to categorize — a fact they take great pride in. "It's kinda tough to put us in a box," Dawson explains. "I mean, we'll do a record with Katy B and it'll have a drum & bass intro and then the drop is synths and the drums are rap. We'll take one of our beats and we'll put a rapper over it and to us that all makes sense, but it doesn't necessarily make sense to a music reviewer, and we love that, to be honest."
This hazy identity seems inevitable when you look at KNK's attributes: soul samples, big bass, EDM build-ups, live instrumentation, and to top it all off, they consider themselves to be hip-hop producers at the end of the day. Even stranger, perhaps, are the roots from which they draw their inspiration, especially on their latest record.
"We were listening to a lot of Caribou when we made this EP, as well as a lot of M83," Dawson notes. "We were listening to a lot of rap, a lot of Drake. We're always going back to the older stuff too — old house records, whatever. If we hear an energy we like somewhere, that could potentially fit into our music and make it sound like our own, we're gonna fuck with that."
You can check out the group's upcoming tour dates below, including appearances in Toronto and Edmonton.
01/26 Charlottesville, VA – Jefferson Theater
01/27 Carrboro, NC – Cat's Cradle
01/28 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
01/29 Nashville, TN – Exit In
01/30 Athens, GA – Georgia Theatre
02/02 Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
02/03 Grand Rapids, MI – The Intersection
02/04 Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall
02/05 Minneapolis, MN - Skyway Theatre
02/06 Milwaukee, WI – The Rave
02/09 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
02/10 Lawrence, KS – Granada Theater
02/11 Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre
02/12 Albuquerque, NM – El Rey Theatre
02/13 Chandler, AZ – Crush Music Festival
02/16 Reno, NV – Cargo
02/17 Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades
02/18 San Francisco, CA – Regency Ballroom
02/19 Santa Cruz, CA – The Catalyst
02/20 Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre
02/21 San Diego, CA – House of Blues
02/24 Eugene, OR – McDonald Theater
02/25 Portland OR, Roseland Theater
02/26 Spokane, WA Kitting Factory Concert House
02/27 Boise, ID – Knitting Factory Concert House
02/28 Seattle, WA – The Showbox
03/16 South Padre Island, TX – UME Festival
03/23 South Burlington, VT - Higher Ground
03/25 Toronto, ON – Danforth Music Hall
03/26 Edmonton, AB – Northern Light Music Festival
06/09 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Music Festival
06/10 Bethel, NY – Mysteryland Music Festival