With Friday afternoon at Bonnaroo starting to heat up, we took some time with the members of Keys N Krates a few hours before their sunset show. The festival vibe appeared to both excite and intrigue the group as they looked forward to building on their unique live sound, igniting the stage at That Tent for the Bonnaroo crowd, and ultimately making new fans in the process.
We’ve seen you guys in club venues before like Pacha and Terminal 5. What do you think the difference is between playing in that type of environment versus playing a music festival set?
Jr. Flo: Well right away, when you’re playing your own show in a club, its like, people tend to know your music like a lot better, and you’re playing to all your fans who bought tickets to come see you, so people are going to know cuts off of our EP, and we know that at Bonnaroo maybe somewhat but, there’s going to be a lot of discovery type people. We’re ready for that.
When you guys are going in to create something in the studio, is there a ritual you go through? Is there a habit you like to practice?
Adam Tune: Usually someone brings an idea to the table; somebody will bring it in, put it in the hot seat and hit play and not say anything and see if the other two guys say “oh what’s that.” And generally if someone says that then we start to work on that track. If nobody says anything, then you just kind of sweep it under the rug and try other shit but generally it starts with one of us with an idea. It could be as simple as a melody or it could be a full like a half-produced thing that we’ve worked on, but generally that’s our ritual. Somebody starts it and then we all kind of work on it ‘till it’s done.
So you guys have collaborated with artists like King Louie, Tree and Cyhi The Prynce. How is it different than working together when it’s just you on your own?
David Matisse: Well to be honest a lot of those guys kind of did their parts on their own. It wasn’t like they were in the studio with us collaborating. We find actually because there is already three chefs in the kitchen, that it’s actually easier for us to let the artists kind of do what they do and send us parts. You know we’ve done a little bit of collaborating with other people, the most recognizable is probably Grandtheft for our ‘Keep It 100’ remix. So we collaborated with him and that was having four guys. That’s tough because you have a lot of different ideas going and everyone wants to try their idea and you wanna give everyone time and so – we find that the easiest way for us, even with our own stuff like we said: one person will start an idea on his own and get his own train of thought out, and he’ll let the other guy do his thing… You kind of have to let everyone play their role for a bit. Once you have too many people being the driving force, it can become a quick mess.
And especially once you are doing it with new artists, you never know how touch and go or how sensitive they are. Vocalists, some vocalists are amazing; you can tell them “Hey I don’t like that vocal, it’s not that good” other vocalists, you have to be very careful of their ego, so it’s really like a case by case situation. And you know, we’re still learning. I think with this next EP we wanna really learn even more about it as we work with new artists.
Adam Tune: And also we make sure that amongst the three of us the consensus is that we all have to be happy with it or at least OK with it. So the problem is, once you add a vocalist in there that sends you something, it’s not just one opinion like ‘Oh I like that or don’t like that it’s like the three of us have to like it. So it is kind of a difficult thing where you have four people’s opinions all sunk into one thing and you know, the way we work is we all have to like it or be comfortable with it so, it’s kind of hard. Collaborations are not easy.
We’ve got a lot of fans at Your EDM who wanted to know about your ‘Dum Dee Dum’ music video. (See video here) Did you catch any flack for the Amish-themed video?
David Matisse: (jokingly) We had a bunch of Amish people outside our house just protesting, like ‘take it down! Take it down!’
Adam Tune: Yeah, not really though. It was funny because after we started seeing the first cuts, it kind of dawned on me I was like ‘oh shit, is this ok? Like are we ok doing this?’ But yeah it seemed fine, we weren’t making fun of anybody. We were just presenting our music in a certain – out of context scenario. It was fine.
So you guys have a diverse musical background, what are some influences that have inspired you to create?
David Matisse: I know for me, it was looking for album credits. Like I remember when my parents brought home records. Specifically, Michael Jackson’s thriller and I was a fan of Quincy Jones, I loved seeing the credits of guitar players and writers and all the pieces of that puzzle. Yeah that kind of process always inspired me, seeing how someone puts an album together and it’s almost like a movie in a sense right, there’s always people behind the scenes back in the day. Nowadays you find it’s one guy doing a lot of it – well I think its kind of switching back to the way it used to be, but at that time, I was always just fascinated with like ‘how do you make a record that becomes this masterpiece’ or like ‘I didn’t realize there were so many people on this album that did this’ or ‘oh my god he did that on this album?’ You find all these people that have been on like nine different albums, like the same guitar player or drummer or the same engineer. You realize that they’re responsible for a huge body of work that you’ve been a fan of for years. So for me, that was always one of the things that got me hyped when I was making beats was to think of things like that.
Jr. Flo: I was a scratch DJ from like an early age like 14 and basically I was inspired to do that before even making music. I wanted to scratch and manipulate records and samples and that’s kind of what I did forever until we [Keys n Krates] started making music together. Even going into this project it was more about that [scratching] for me than making music and early on in the project we just got more into making our own music and I learned to produce with these guys, so I mean I didn’t really start producing until I was in my late twenties. For me, it was just always about scratching and manipulation and hip-hop.