Catching Up with Keys N Krates at their Original Classic Tour Stop in Brooklyn


Every time I enter Bushwick’s Elsewhere, it feels like home. On an empty block on Johnson Avenue, sits the multi-roomed venue that doesn’t discriminate against genres, artists, or crowds. Elsewhere has always been one of my favorite venues. And the fact that I was about to see my favorite electronic music act of all time, being in a place I was so comfortable in really helped with the nerves.

Since the last time we spoke, Keys N Krates had accomplished so much. They officially dropped their latest album, Original Classic. They started touring again, even hitting their Toronto home base before the year ended. And were named on Billboard’s 20 Best Dance Albums: Critic’s Picks. But they all agreed, “finishing the album was our biggest accomplishment. Agreeing on all the songs and shit, you know?” The album had been in the works for around two or three years because the pandemic prolonged it.

With the show about to go on in less than thirty minutes, Keys N Krates graciously took some time to chat. Dig in before reading my review of the actual event.

Do you believe in New Year’s resolutions?

Jr. Flo: Not really. I personally don’t really, because I just feel like New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken. I feel like whatever you’re trying to do, you just need to fucking do it every day. It’s got to be your lifestyle. Can’t be like a thing like “I’m just gonna do this all of the sudden.” You gotta just do it.

Adam Tune: *Laughs* On January 1st!

How’s it like being back in New York?

David Matisse: I gotta say, I really enjoyed my time here. We’ve had so many when we first started coming here, we had so many gigs that were challenging with gear, way back in the day, that was always considered like a work trip. But just being here and to be able to kind of experience it as it opens up again after the pandemic. Like today, walking around people was just was nuts; like the weather and everyone’s just out. And even last night, just exploring, it was amazing. Everywhere was packed, and everyone was just happy to be out. I kind of understood the gravity of how much is going on in the city. So I actually really had a good time.

The last time you played at Elsewhere was in the fall of 2019. It was supposed to be a rooftop party, but got rained out so they crammed us in the smallest room they had in the Loft. I was there and was lucky enough to grab a spot on the couch right next to you so I was just dancing on top of it the whole night without getting squished! So whether it’s an instance like that or just preparing for an outdoor festival vs. indoor club vibe, how do you go about it?

Jr. Flo: Smaller rooms versus bigger rooms, we tend to program a little bit differently. Like a bigger stage, especially like a festival stage, feels very different from like a club. So clubs—like tonight, because it’s intimate—we’re going to do two hours. A festival set we’ll usually keep to like an hour to keep it really concise and more high impact. Clubs we look at as a chance to vibe it out longer, play more unreleased shit, take more chances. Because it’s a zone where it’s forgiving to work shit out in. But it’s also cool because you’re giving people like that experience in a club set over just like a festival set, which is great, too. It’s a different thing.

Do you feel like you stick to more of your bangers when you’re in a festival set, too?

Jr. Flo: Yeah, for sure. You have 60 minutes and it’s a bit of a sprint. And you’re dealing with other stages and you’re dealing with a huge stage and a huge crowd so like, it definitely influences the way you program a bit. We’re not departing from what we do in any way. It’s just there are kind of different ways we can play—we can definitely play a vibier version of our set and we can play like a harder-hitting version of our set.

I saw you Tweeting asking for food recommendations. What’s been your favorite food spot so far on the tour?

Jr. Flo: Our tour manager Jared and I had this Israeli food in New Orleans. It was amazing.

Matisse: Burma Superstar. That was my first time having Burmese food so they took me there.

Before the pandemic, you would always make it a point to come to the crowd after your set to meet fans. Has that changed this tour?

Jr. Flo: Yeah yeah, a little bit. We try to say hi, we’re not closed off, but we’re not like going to the front and shaking hands with every single person or whatever.

Any preshow rituals?

Jr: Flo: No…

So you don’t take shots with whoever’s interviewing you?

Matisse [about Adam Tune, pointing to the side]: Actually that man has to have a fireplace in every green room we go to.

Oh yeah, I’ve never seen that before. They must have put it in just for you. I didn’t know you could have a fireplace in your rider.

Adam Tune: What the fucking… What? No!

Matisse: *Laughs* You gotta roll with it!

Do you actually have any weird rider requests, though?

Jr. Flo: Well there’s this new soda water we discovered in Denver called Liquid Death.

Matisse: It’s just water, but it looks like it’s in a tall beer can.

Oh so non-alcoholic, just seltzer water. What makes it so special and different from something La Croix?

Jr. Flo: Well it’s not flavored, and it’s called Liquid Death.

I actually read in a recent interview that you’re planning on throwing a party soon. Any information you can share?

Jr Flo: We’re starting a party in Toronto and it’s going to be quarterly. It’s going to be us and special guests, and it’s gonna be called Odd Soul. We’re curating a lineup that we like, of stuff we like, playing with them—maybe doing back to back with some of them. It’ll be a different program every time. We’ll change the venue every time. We might eventually bring it to different cities, but we’re going to start it in Toronto. Toronto really needs stuff right now.

Last question: I ended our last interview talking about Squid Game. So I’m wondering if there’s anything binge-watch worthy you’re into right now.

Jr. Flo: I watched that Ozark show. It’s crazy.

Adam Tune: Below Deck

Below deck? What is that about?

Adam Tune: Boating

Oh! Do you boat?

Adam Tune: *Laughs* No.

Matisse: I got a guilty pleasure. It’s a shame, but also not a shame. 90 Day Fiance

Adam Tune: I’d second that!

Matisse: And Too Hot To Handle: Season 3.

Of course, the Keys N Krates DJ set did not disappoint. With impeccable song selection outside of their discography mixed in with their originals, I had the time of my life, dancing to edits of classics like Cajmere’s “Brighter Days” while also waiting in anticipation for which KNK songs they were about to play out. “Original Classic,”  “Chopped Soul,” and “Take It Off” were songs I hoped I could finally hear played out on the loudspeakers, but they even dug into the archives for their electronic trap crowd-pleasers from the early 2010s.

I went absolutely wild for trap classics “Treat Me Right,” “Hypnotik,” and “Dum Dee Dum.” But once they injected some of my personal favorite Keys N Krates project, A Beat Tape For Your Friends, my heart never felt more full. I sang out loud to “Music To My Ears” and tears filled my eyes once “Never Stop” came on.

The energy from the crowd never died down. Impeccably blending vibey tunes with hard-hitting dance anthems, the set was engaging all the way through. New club couples even formed in front of my eyes, but that’s just the magic of a Keys N Krates set: Bringing people together for an all-night dance party you’ll never forget. I know I won’t.

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