JFK MSTRKRFT: Solo and beyond
Mon 3rd Sep, 2012 Features 1176 viewsin
Jesse F. Keller has carved out a pretty unique place in the music industry. As well as conquering both the electronic world as part of duo MSTRKRFT and the punk-rock side of things with cult group Death From Above 1979, Jesse’s gone the trifecta of musical feats and also proven his handle on DJing sans bandmates as JFK MSTRKRFT. It’s that incarnation he’s bringing our way in November as part of the Stereosonic bill and in the lead-up to the festival tour, JFK told inthemix he’s taking the solo thing all the way and releasing his own album before he touches down on Australian soil. With the conversation spanning his solo plans, how MSTRKRFT will come back after the mixed reviews for Fist of God and that controversial electro is ruined comment, there was plenty to get through in ten minutes.
Hey Jesse, so what have I caught you in the middle of today?
I am at home, in my studio, sitting between a wall, a synthesiser and a computer. I’m staring at a bass and scratching my chin with a cigarette.
Does that mean you’re in the midst of some recording?
Yes, I have been in this position for a while. Generally facing the computer and not the corner. But yes, I have been working away.
Can I ask what you’re working on?
Well, part of the reason why I’m coming to Stereosonic by myself is because I’m almost finished my own album and it will be finished long before [I arrive], hopefully very soon. I’ve been working away on that, and my other acts. But right now I’m really focussing on finishing this because I started in about 2010, maybe 2009, and I just kept putting things on the back burner while my life got taken over by other stuff. But I’m almost done and that’s very exciting.
Yeah, I was going to ask – you’re coming to Stereosonic on your own rather than with Alex. Are you doing the DJ thing?
Yes, I will be DJing. I’ve got a new DJ setup. I’m not going to be playing any instruments. That’s my definition of live, so no, it will not be live. But it will be live in the rap sense. If that makes sense.
So what’s the solo material sounding like?
I don’t know, I don’t want to pigeon hole it but it’s the most ‘me’ record I think I’ve ever made, probably because it is me. I’ve never made a whole record or even a single song by myself, I think because I’ve always been scared to. To step up on my own is daunting. I actually feel really uncomfortable trying to articulate it right now! You’re the first person in any of the interviews who’s actually asked this. Um, I’m really excited about. I really love all the songs on my record so far.
It’s like the music that, when I’m making a DJ set and I’m trying to decide what to play, I would be looking for something specific and realise I don’t have it or it doesn’t exist. So then at some point along the road in the past few years, I decided I should make these things that I want but can’t find. So that’s what I’ve been doing. On my own for a while and sort of a place for my creative ideas that I didn’t think fit in with anything else. It’s daunting, it’s exciting, but I guess that’s more from my perspective. I think music wise, it’s awesome. It’s exciting [laughs]. I feel like that’s how someone’s grandfather would describe music: “it’s very exciting”.
Is it too early to slap a genre label on it?
I mean my main influences have all been sort of like Chicago style dance music, so if I was able to do my own pigeon-holing I would say that my Chicago influences shine big. And how I got into house music was from jungle, one day my raver cousin was like ‘you should check out this stuff’ and I was like, ‘woh, what is this stuff’ and I loved it. There’s kind of like bassline…I guess you gotta hear it. I’ll be better at explaining it when it’s all done.