Original Classic

Keys N Krates

Original Classic

Rather than lament the gigs they weren’t playing during the pandemic, Keys N Krates used that downtime to conceptualize their third studio album—and effectively plotted an itinerary for the world tour they have yet to experience. On Original Classic, the Toronto-based trio of Adam Tune (drums), Dave Matisse (keyboards), and Greg Dawson (aka DJ Jr Flo) supplement familiar ingredients like Chicago house and New York disco with Brazilian rhythms, Bahamian funk, UK grime, and Indian melodies, while bringing guests like Lido Pimienta, Haviah Mighty, and Three 6 Mafia don Juicy J along for the trip. “We’ve toured North America so much, and some of our favorite festivals we’d see online were always in Brazil or other parts of Europe,” Matisse tells Apple Music, “and we’re just like, ‘Man, how do we get our music over there?’ So, we were studying what kind of rhythms work around the world and went down that rabbit hole. We were like, ‘If we ever did tour again, where would we like to go? What do they listen to there? What do they dance to? How can we pull that into our sound so that it’s still us but opens us up to bigger markets?’” Here, Keys N Krates offer their track-by-track guide to a record that takes us around the globe in 30 minutes flat.
“Crescendo” Adam Tune: “We actually had the whole album done except for the beginning, but Greg was pretty adamant about having an intro. We were trying to figure out what song to put first, and we thought if we put ‘Original Classic’ first, that would be too obvious. So, I was like, ‘If we’re gonna have an intro, it’s got to be energetic—it can’t just be kind of moody.’ That was my criteria. So, we made this very last minute. It kind of has elements of all the things on the album.”
“Original Classic” (feat. Juicy J) [Keys N Krates, Chip & Marbl] Greg Dawson: “With most of the collaborations on this record, we already had the records going before we brought people in, which was kind of great, because it allowed us to sculpt what we wanted to do and then bring people in that we felt were going to fit into the world, in a surprising but not out-of-place way. We reached out to Juicy J, because he feels so surprising on an uptempo record like this. We were like, ‘This is gonna sound dope and anthemic and fun.’ But we all felt like the record was kind of like a British record at heart, because the hook was written with our friend Marbl, who’s British, and we wanted somebody else that could complement that as well as juxtapose Juicy, so we reached out to Chip because we really like him as a rapper.”
“Brazilian Love Song” David Matisse: “We were studying chord progressions a lot. I was coming back from a show, and I sat down and just kind of played those chords. At the time, we were thinking a lot about playing live and how to play a four-on-the-floor groove. The piano chords were initially played more like an intro you’d use to start off in the show. But then we made them more stabby and more house.”
“Siento Mi Destino” (feat. Lido Pimienta) GD: “Our label put us on to Lido, and we were like, ‘Man, she’s amazing.’ It’s crazy: She’s from Toronto, and we just didn’t know about her, which just speaks to how many fucking artists there are now that you don’t even know about who are so awesome. So, we were like, ‘This is a no-brainer.’ We landed on doing this more emotional sort of club record that has that South American rhythmic influence, for sure.”
“Presentando” GD: “This is just Lido messing around and talking—and as soon as she said this, we were like, ‘Oh, we’re totally gonna use that as an interlude!’”
“Chopped Soul” GD: “This was a beat we made that we just all really liked. The drums came from a remix that we were doing, and we just put different parts together. We ended up really loving the mood of that beat, because it juxtaposes feeling really fun but also kind of dark at the same time. It was a different sort of a groove for us, in that it felt dancey but very loose and organic and breakbeaty at the same time.”
“Take It Off” (feat. Bibi Bourelly)/“Take It Off (Reprise)” GD: “We’ve always written with Bibi every time we go to LA, because she’s amazing. We knew that we wanted to do something really overtly dancey with her, because she just has such a unique vocal tone that’s also very energetic. We had this Chicago-housey demo. We were sitting in the studio before playing that for her, and we were talking about people she was dating, and she said, ‘I’m always dating the wrong kind of person who’s super emotionally unavailable, and I just gravitate towards these kinds of people, it’s insane.’ And then she went into the booth and sang this crazy song over our beat about that exact topic. It was a super-raw, unfiltered first take. And the reprise is cool because it represents the more orchestral end of the album.”
“The Way I Feel Tonight” DM: “I was at some show where I heard some drum breaks onstage, and I came home after that and I just wanted to use that kind of breakbeat and then put the chords over it, and it came together pretty quickly. The vocal sample is from an artist in Toronto named Jade Inc. She’s a friend of ours who sends us a lot of a cappellas, and she had this part that was very catchy—‘The way I feel tonight’—and it went with the feeling of the track. So, we laid that vocal down on it as well, as kind of an ode to our old Keys N Krates style of chopping up one-liners.”
“Dreams of Oceans” AT: “This has a sample of a funk band in the Bahamas from the ’70s [called 5th Degree]. We were actually talking to the composer while clearing the sample, which is something you generally don’t do. It’s usually through your publisher and their publisher and all that stuff. But we were in contact with the actual composer, and it was kind of nerve-wracking, because he asked to hear the use of the sample—it was the intro to this song called ‘You Got Me Hypnotized.’ So, we sent it over, and he actually liked what we did to it, which was a bit of a shock! That was a good pat on the back for us.”
“Pull Up” (feat. Haviah Mighty) GD: “We brought Haviah in and tried to put her in that space where it’s like, ‘You’re like a young Missy Elliott—you can rap your ass off on this, but it’s also a fun dance record.’ And then we created a whole part that she could sing over, because we were like, ‘You can sing! Let’s do a vocal hook.’ We just tried to really enable her and let her loose on it. We sort of started the record without her and finished it with her, which was cool because we were like, ‘Sure, she fits into this original demo, but what other parts can we make to really platform what she can do?’”
“Bollywood Bounce” GD: “We’ve just been listening to a ton of world music. We’re not trying to be a part of any scene—we just grab things that we love and inspire us. We were listening to Bollywood stuff during the pandemic, and Matisse found this sample and we just leaned into the whole world-music element. Like, the groove could be from anywhere, but the sample puts it in a Bollywood space.”
“Is This Yours” AT: “That’s my mom. I brought her into the studio really early on in our career and got her to say, ‘Keys N Krates.’ She’s been on our records for years, and I’ve used that same sample pack ever since. It was due for an update, and we got a new studio, so I surprised her and brought her back in.”

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