Keys N Krates stop in for Commonwealth’s 5th Anniversary (and beyond)

By Max Foley
Keys N Krates endlessly refine their recipe. Photo: Lucia Graca

Keys N Krates endlessly refine their recipe.
Photo: Lucia Graca

CALGARY — Hey, aspiring laptop DJs: Keys N Krates’ Jr. Flo has some bad news. “These days it’s not so much about party-rocking one-man shows; people want a live act, something with complexity. They want a performance.”

For those of you familiar with Flo and co.’s shows, those words are hardly surprising or out-of-character. The Canadian live electronic trio has been around since 2008, pushing a sound that, while perhaps a bit out-there back then, today finds itself getting a little bit crowded.

Following in the footsteps of pioneers like Kraftwerk, and joining the ranks of trailblazers like Tame Impala and Caribou – while buttressed by a light seasoning of bass music from the likes of Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, and Machinedrum – Keys N Krates found their niche in the trap explosion of the early 2010s.

Turntablist Jr. Flo, real name Greg Dawson, joined forces with drummer Adam Tune and keyboardist David Matisse. After five years of extensive studio time and two refined, well-produced EPs, Blackout and Lucid Dreams, they struck gold with their seminal SOLOW EP. Featuring trap anthems “Treat Me Right’” and “Dum Dee Dum,” as well as trap time capsule “I Just Can’t Deny,” the immense popularity of this latest release spurred what Dawson describes as “endless touring.” From this author’s personal experience, having seen KNK on three separate occasions in the span of a year or so, that’s no word of a lie.

“We’re always working on our production and our live show. We haven’t really stopped touring to be honest,” Dawson explains earnestly. “We’re our own entity; we’re trying to hone in on that ‘live act’ feeling that people are looking for.”

Four or five years ago, pitching ‘a live trap show’ to organizers would get you laughed out of the room. But the talented trio pulled it off, and the results speak for themselves.

Keys N Krates are a festival fixture, wowing at massive events like Pemberton and Northern Lights. Their single with English artist Katy B, “Save Me,” secured them a nomination for this year’s JUNOs. Their tracks have been remixed by a laundry list of icons: Machinedrum, Chris Lorenzo, TNGHT, just to name a few.

So, then, where is left for them to go? One might assume there’s some pressure to continue pushing the envelope. Yet when posed that very question, Dawson wasn’t fazed in the least.

“We’re just gonna keep refining the live experience. We’ve also been spending some time in the studio with GANZ and Grandtheft. [There’s] no telling if those collaborations will see the light of day, but know that we’re back in the studio working on another album,” Dawson explains.

“Come see our show!” he adds cheekily. The genuine excitement in his voice is palpable. And for the uninitiated, now’s your chance to catch these guys in the flesh.

Keys N Krates perform at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on November 10th, at Union Hall in Edmonton on November 12th, at Commonwealth in Calgary (as part of their five-year anniversary series) and at Hoodoo Lounge in Banff on November 14th.

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