Keys N Krates: "We’re Constantly Trying to Channel Our 14-Year-Old Selves"

Keys N Krates have fond Miami memories of eating good Cuban food and playing a WMC party hosted by DJ Craze at a strip club. They love Florida and say the crowds are “lit.” Their mission statement reads: “make weird rap beats for the weird kids,” which would make the Sunshine State a utopia of sorts.

The trio hails from Toronto and consists of drummer Adam Tune, David Matisse on keys, and Greg Dawson, AKA Jr. Flo, on the turbtable. Keys N Krates have taken their live-electro-trap-D&B sound to Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, and Tampa. The group's first Life in Color Miami show will be icing on the cake, fitting considering Keys N Krates is on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak label. “We’re constantly trying to channel our 14-year-old selves to make music a 14- or 15-year-old kid is more in touch with than someone in their 30s,” said Dawson. Life in Color is a 16 and up show and Florida is certain to represent in all its turnt-up glory.

The trio calls life on the road, “a grind, a very slow grind,” and attributes its resilience to “delusional determination.” They have been working together nonstop for eight years, but success started happening only about two years ago. Dawson was a well-respected hip-hop turntablist and started competing in DJ battles when he was just 16. He hung up his battling headphones at 22 after winning the World ITF Beat Juggling category and the Canadian DMCs (it’s a big deal for a turntablist). 
“When I first started getting booked to DJ, I would get booked at raves, but I wasn’t really into that scene," he says. "Some of our tracks now have an electronic sound, but my roots are hip-hop. Our sound didn’t happen fast. It slowly evolved. We stuck it out."

Keys N Krates maintained a solid following in Toronto during the six-year grind. Occasionally they would get stage time in the States for crowds of 30 or 40 thanks to favors from friends.

Keys N Krates' Midnight Mass EP dropped on January 15 and on January 19 the group kicks off its 32-date Midnight Mass Tour (the closest they'll get to Florida is Athens, Georgia). In markets where they used to have to beg for stage time, ticket sales are off to the races. Keys N Krates is several years in the making and all in attendance on Saturday will feel the power of "delusional determination." 

This Saturday their Life in Color set is slated for 8:55 p.m. at the Underwater Kingdom stage. Listen for “Dum Dee Dum,” “Save Me,” “I Know U” and unreleased music in between getting blasted with thick neon goo. 

Life in Color with Jack Ü, Steve Aoki, Big Sean, and others. 2 p.m. Saturday, January 16, at Sun Life Stadium, 347 Don Shula Dr., Miami Gardens. Tickets cost $110 to $135 plus fees via

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Elvis Anderson has been a devout Kraftwerk fan since the fifth grade. His favorite dance-floor move is the somersault. He serves on the board of the Woody Foundation, a Miami-based not-for-profit organization that improves the lives of those living with paralysis.