Jesse F. Keeler is another stellar product of our fine country. Starting in Toronto, he conquered the punk rock world playing bass guitar in Death From Above 1979. After a successful studio album and numberous EPs the band unfortunately broke up (only unfortunate for the rock community). Together with studio wizard Al-P, he transitioned his raw, energizing, nature towards electronic dance music in 2006 with MSTRKRFT. You might call JFK a crossover artist, but I would call it simply a progression. The distorted heavy sounds from the bass guitar that put JFK on the map would lend themselves instantly to the monstrous sounds soon to come from his synth and vocoder.
MSTRKRFT released their first LP The Looks in 2006. Electronic music at this point was evolving beyond the definition of techno and house. With a heavier punk influence the album was described by Al-P as,”darker, underground disco house with elements of American rock music.” Following up with their second LP Fist Of God, the duo inherited some hip hop influence while collaborating with the likes of John Legend and Ghostface Killah. The record received mixed reviews, straying from what the fan base came to expect from the boys. JFK and Al-P expected this however, going as far to tell the kids on the message boards, ‘Well, a lot of you are gonna hate it’ Personally, I loved the album and it ultimately opened the duo up to a wider audience.
MSTRKRFT-Fist Of God- Heartbreak ft. John Legend
This year, I was lucky enough to not only see DFA and MSTRKRFT play at Sasquatch Festival, but I also got to meet JFK after his DJ set! I was front row and had just finished watching Jesse and Al-P deliver the rowdiest set of raunchy electro I had seen all weekend. At the end, the entire dance tent had emptied in a flash to catch the rest of Ratatat but my friends and I were standing around just stunned at what we witnessed. I was looking for my jaw somewhere in the 6 inches of confetti (it dropped at the start of the night and it never came back up) when JFK jumped down to say hello to the die-hard fans. I’ll never forget how humble and sincere and sweaty he was. This wasn’t a screaming crowd of groupies to stroke his ego either, no, this was a handful of loyal fans that he was paying some gratitude towards and I had never witnessed something like that from such a star.
JFK has never been one to follow trends, he has always just made the music that he likes. More importantly, when he plays a live set, he might not play every sing along song you might expect. He wants you to give you some what the fuck is this-its amazing music that you’ve never heard before. That experience alone is what makes his shows so unique and amazing.