For Keys N Krates sound is everything, whether on tour across North America or crafting excellence in the studio, they’ve developed a winning formula that connects them with fans from across the globe with their eclectic style. PK Sound had a chance to sit down with the group to talk about all things music; from the dynamic talent that makes them one of the most diverse acts on tour today, to the importance of connecting to the audience through transparent sound.
PK - How long have you worked with PK Sound?
KNK - We've been working with PK Sound for about 3 years now - we first discovered PK at Shambhala. We remember being at a stage in the afternoon and being like “WTF, this sounds so good!” The rich, deep lows and clean bass of the system really blew us away. Our TM/Sound Prince Jpaul had a PK rig in the club he was working with at the time and arranged to have a PK Sound system on our last tour; the Every Nite Tour. We brought out CX800 double 18” subs and Klarity 12’s for front fills. Kids had never heard their local venues sound that way before.
PK - You have a very dynamic stylistic approach, combining soul, big bass, DNB, hip hop, vocals and much more. Tell us about your creative process and how you make it all come together so seamlessly.
KNK - Anything goes when it comes to making music. We will pull influences from classic hip hop, to house and drum and bass. We find inspiration listening to a vast amount of styles. A track generally starts with someone bringing an idea to the group and "presenting it to the jury" - if the other two members are feeling it, we start working and add it to the mix of contenders for our next EP or release.
It's never easy having 3 cooks in the kitchen but blending the 3 of us together from different music backgrounds adds lots of interesting textures to our music.
PK - When it comes to live performances you don't cut any corners and the results are easy to hear - live instrumentation and vocals sound just as amazing as your electronic compositions. What is important to you in making sure that the audience has the best experience possible?
KNK - Our live show is how we started and is still very important to us. We've had many opportunities to cut some corners and play to backing tracks or use clicks to sync, but we've always kept it old school like a garage band would. Everyone plays their respective parts of a song live, and if someone screws up, the excitement begins in figuring out how to pull it off without the crowd detecting anything is wrong. Or as we put it "wrong and strong." If you make a mistake twice, was it really a mistake?
It's always been an uphill battle being a live group among the DJ culture. We annoyed FOH engineers and crew at festivals because they actually had to do some work when we played, instead of monitoring a DJ level. We've dealt with not being as loud as other DJ acts. These variances from the norm have made us work harder at delivering a unique show. I think that we are now in a comfort zone where we are confident in our show. We know that if you come to a Keys show, you will leave having experienced something new
PK - Sound systems are traditionally thought of as amplifying the performance of a musician. In your case as a performer, sound has become your palette – your “keyboard” or “range of notes” – so has the sound system in fact become part of your “instrument”?
KNK - Sound to us is so important. It's part of our advancing of shows. We don't have the luxury of playing mastered tracks, so we need to make sure that when we play, the rig has headroom and clean Headroom. Nothing worse than your opener being louder or cleaner than you because they aren't clipping the PA. If the PA is inadequate we bring in additional sound at whatever cost. We would rather not make a dime than have bad sound.
We’ve also purchased a Klarity rig for our rehearsal room - being able to rehearse through the same PA you have on tour has been super helpful for us getting our levels right.
PK - How do you envision your music style evolving? Where are you going to take this over the next few years?
KNK - We will keep creating new and original sounds while progressing as individual producers, and as a group. We hope to add more lyrical songs into our EP's and make an album in the near future. We like the idea of an album because it will give us the freedom to make a body of work that you can put on and vibe out to, and tell a story with a stamp in time like old albums did. It's not impossible to do with an EP but only having 6 tracks makes it a little trickier. But ya, we hope to grow as producers mostly.
PK - Where can people go to experience your music live or connect with you online?
KNK - We just got off a full US tour in support our latest EP Midnite Mass. Check out other show dates at KEYSNKRATES.com or find us on twitter or Instagram @keysnkrates. We've also started a snapchat: keysnkratesknk