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Thriving on the unpredictable

Toronto-based dance duo MSTRKRFT might have just released a new album, but they’re already working on their next disc.

Toronto-based dance duo MSTRKRFT might have just released a new album, but they’re already working on their next disc. In fact, they moved on from their sophomore effort, Fist of God, months ago.

“We finished the record in September and we’ve already been playing most of it for six months,” says Jesse F. Keeler, one half of the electronica outfit. “As soon as we’re done we move on mentally.”

In fact, if the band had it their way, they might not have released the album at all. Keeler says they put out discs because the record label wants one — they’d be happy releasing single after single.

“We’re both quite content to just put out one song at a time,” says Keeler, “but that’s not how the business likes to deal with things.”

Luckily, the band has the freedom to do as they please on the road, and they take advantage of touring as much as they can. (They’re about to embark on two solid months of travel.) Keeler says the best part of being a touring DJ, as opposed to being in a rock band — he used to be in DFA 1979, so he’s talking from experience — is that he doesn’t have to play his own songs.

“The nice think about DJing is that we don’t have to play anything,” says Keeler. “It can be all other people’s music but people are still coming to see us. They’re coming to see what we’re going to play, not to hear our record. And if they do come to hear our disc, they learn pretty quickly that’s not how it works.”

For fans, that can be both exciting and disappointing, as their new record features a number of intense synth-heavy club tracks that would sound great live. But knowing that the duo could tap into their extensive catalogue of remixes, which includes alternate version of songs by Lil Wayne, Bloc Party and Metric, or that they might play whatever they listened to on the way to the gig, makes a MSTRKRFT show unpredictable.

Still, the band will likely pull out a few new tunes, especially if one of the many guest vocalists who appeared on Fist of God decides to show up to one of their gigs. The strangest collaborations on the band’s sophomore effort — and one that would be fascinating to see live — is with John Legend. He sings some soulful melodies on the soft sounding Heartbreaker.

“We talk on iChat a lot,” says Keeler. “I get freaked out because we have a lot in common. He’s accustomed to working on different things and listens to all kinds of stuff.”

Asking Legend to help out was easy, but getting Ghostface to rap on Word Up meant they had to give in to a strange request. “He wanted us to buy him a ring to do the vocals,” says Keeler. “That’s completely honest. And it cost a lot of money so I hope he likes it.”

MSTRKRFT live
• Toronto: The Kool Haus - April 9, 2009

 
 
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