MSTRKRFT (pronounced Master craft') is the project of Toronto musician Jesse F. Keeler and studio wizard Al-P, two music-loving dudes who've been itching to make people dance as hard as they've made them rock. The pair has been collaborating, on and off, since 1998, when Al recorded Jesse's punk rock band Black Cat #13. Though they went separate routes -- Jesse taking a brief break from music, and Al moving to New York where he worked at studios like Sound on Sound and Chung King recording artists as diverse as Jay-Z, Wyclef Jean, and David Clayton Thomas -- the friends remained in contact, trading tapes of their individual, unreleased forays into dance music.
Al returned to T.O. in December 2001, going on to work at studios including Chemical and his own Kimagure Sound, and becoming one of the city's hottest go-to men for hip-hop, house, and rock artists alike. His short-lived, self-described "weirdo" project Girls Are Short preceded the current, popular merger of indie rock and electronics, influencing bands including Broken Social Scene who count themselves as fans.
mstrkrft - heartbreaker featuring john legend
mstrkrft - woman remix
mstrkrft - bounce
Enter MSTRKRFT, a shit-hot addition to the global community of sonic warriors currently smashing down boundaries between punk, house, hip-hop, grime, electro, and all kinds of electronic experimentation.
"What we're making now, we don't know what the hell it is, but I know it's danceable," says JFK. "We were hanging out in New York with Armand Van Helden the other day, talking about making tracks, and he was like As long as that thump is there, it's fine and it will appeal to that audience."
"So simple. So true," laughs ALP.
MSTRKRFT is already proving this to be so. In October of 2004, the duo recorded their first remix for release -- a balls-to-the-wall rendition of NYC band The Panthers' "Thank Me With Your Hands." An immediate underground success even before official release (the song was first included on a promo-only Vice magazine CD), the remix was played in dance clubs, rock clubs, and made its way onto compilations, including Plant Music's prestigious The Sound of Young New York + Toronto.
From that buzz, MSTRKRFT developed both an immediate following, and a lengthy list of artists looking for their remix interpretation. Reading like a who's-who of today's most prominent musical trendsetters, this includes peeps like Annie, The Kills, Buck 65, Juliette Lewis and the Licks, Nine Inch Nails, and Last Gang label mates Metric. The list doesn't stop there, and the calls keep pouring in, largely because MSTRKRFT have the Midas touch, turning originals such as Bloc Party's "2 More Years" into chart and dancefloor gold.
"We like to make the songs we remix our own," JFK explains. "I think we approach it differently because we're not coming from a strictly dance background, and we always ask the question How am I going to make this something I would have made?' We work on everything until we're content, and feel like we've inserted enough of ourselves to warrant having our name attached to it."
Now, with the release of their diverse debut artist album The Looks, and its funkin' fantastic, vocoder-heavy lead party jam "Easy Love," MSTRKRFT prove that they can make and mix rock and dance music with equal abandon and precision.
"It all comes down to feel," states ALP. "We're interested in making people feel like they want to dance, at least a little bit, so it's all about whatever it takes to get people there."
After months and months of stealing time away from other projects, and building their own MSTRKRFT studio - already in-demand thanks to the boys' skills and the studio's tricks and treats, including its er-warm 1970 Neve console -- JFK and ALP are indeed ready to take people there.
The duo is raring to share their music -- and more -- this spring as they travel and tour as a DJ team. With booking agents in Canada (SLFA), U.S. (TCA), and the U.K. & Europe (Primary), MSTRKRFT will soon bring their sound to a city near you.
"I love DJing so much," enthuses JFK. "It's so emotionally rewarding to see a room full of people dancing. That's better than any experience I've ever had."
With two feet firmly planted in punk rock's influential past, and two in dance music's future, MSTRKRFT are the now, wow.
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