Keys N Krates

Keys N Krates

Photo by Vanessa Heins 

Known for their idiosyncratic and organic sample-driven approach to dance music, Keys N Krates continues to evolve effortlessly with electronic music's swift pace. The Toronto-based trio, made up of Adam Tune, David Matisse, and Greg Dawson, signed to Dim Mak Records in 2013, where they would release their breakout single "Dum Dee Dum." With almost 100 million streams to date, the song has become one of the most formative tracks of the electronic trap subgenre. Keys N Krates released multiple successful EPs with the label including Treat Me Right EP and SOLOW in 2013 as well as their Every Night EP in 2014. The group's unique makeup of a DJ, a keyboardist, and a drummer set them apart in the scene.

Their live approach to each performance was virtually unheard of in the genre. In 2018, the group began to pivot towards working with more collaborators and exploring a myriad of sounds — ranging from pop to boom bap and disco to house music — injecting R&B into their style with their debut album, Cura, which featured the likes of 070 Shake, Ambré Perkins, and Tory Lanez. The change was a wild success, with the record amassing over 52 million streams. The project would go on to expand their roster of diverse collaborators and set the group's precedence of working with unlikely characters. After signing to Last Gang Records/MNRK, they released their 2021 pop-leaning second studio album, Original Classic, which would solidify the band as a boundary-breaking crossover electronic act. The album features guest appearances from names like Juicy J, Chip, and Bibi Bourelly, blending their 808s and sample-chopping sensibilities with Afro rhythms and house influenced grooves, all while continuing to collaborate with vocalists to make left-of-center, hybrid dance/pop records.

Keys N Krates got together in 2008 through Toronto's tight-knit artist scene. Beginning as a live act that would flip popular hip-hop and dance music tunes, the trio decided they wanted to create their own music. With Tune going to school for audio engineering, Matisse's classical piano background and Greg's expertise in turntablism and club DJing, the three began to learn how to produce together, motivating them to build to a point where they would perform their own songs. Inspired by J Dilla, Pete Rock, The Neptunes, and Timbaland, Keys N Krates would infuse their hip-hop roots into everything they would create. Regardless of the genre, their penchant for layered drum breaks, world music, and dusty samples would make its way into the distinct Keys N Krates sound.

In 2023, Keys N Krates will be delivering their third studio album, IN:TENSION. Showcasing their adaptability and versatility, the dance music-centric record will be an ode to legendary acts like Masters at Work and Armand Van Helden. "We're inspired to make stuff that feels like it has a lot of energy, but still has that soul," Greg said. "Trying to bring more energy has presently landed for us in the house realm, in the 120 to 130 bpm range mostly. That's just what's exciting to us at the moment. We all kind of grew up around the music, so we've just naturally gravitated towards listening to it and we are excited to apply everything we’ve learned writing and production wise on these last couple of projects to this direction."

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