31 Dec


“Right now this music has become more punk than punk-rock ever was,” says Jesse F Keeler, one half of Canadian electronic outfit MSTRKRFT. “We don’t need record labels, ads or money, equipment, practice space, a tour van – all the stuff you needed so much fucking money for when you’re in a punk band.”

Keeler is passionately talking about the rock-meets-dance-meets-punk sound currently championed by the likes of Justice, Boys Noize, Digitalism, The Bloody Beetroots and a whole swag of others, including MSTRKRFT – a group started by Keeler (formally of Death from Above 1979) with partner AI-P.

“I think the DIY punk-rock dream is fully realised in this music. You don’t need anybody else but yourself, an Internet connection and a computer – even with a real shitty computer, you can find a way to make it work,” he says.

“This is why it’s exploding. It has just as much to do with the format and the media involved as it does the music itself.”

Keeler’s a fantastic interview once he gets going, even though my phone call disrupts a Skype conversation he was having with a girlfriend, or “as close to a girlfriend as he can have” given MSTRKRFT’s hectic touring schedule.

With shows on every weekend until they hit Australia at the end of September, everything the duo does is full throttle, including the unrelenting dirty stadium dance-rock of their second album, Fists of God.

“This record is a result of all the DJing and travelling – we’ve been on the road for the last four years,” he explains.

“We didn’t want to make a record that sounded like the last one. The Strokes make their second record and it sounded like the first, but if they had changed it too much, people would have gone, ‘but I loved the first record!’ You’re in a no win situation with critics.

“When we listen to Bowie’s catalogue now, you jump around through decades of music in a moment on your computer and all kinds of evolutions happened over the course of his career… but when we look at it now, we see it all as one thing. That’s the luxury the future has that the present doesn’t.

“After thinking about that we decided to make a second record and go, ‘fuck it’. We’re just going to do whatever we want and not worry about what anyone thinks of it, or if it makes sense to our old fans or not, it doesn’t matter.”

The album has clearly worked out well for them with tracks like Bounce getting radio airplay all around the world. But despite the fame of MSTRKRFT and other artists like them, electronic music still seems far removed from the popularity of rock.

“In rock music people get rewarded for doing shit that sounds just like anybody else. Look at somebody like… now here’s a band I don’t like from Australia – Jet. The reason why I don’t like them and it’s not that they’re bad musicians, they’re probably really nice people, but every time I heard Are You Gonna Be My Girl, I was like, ‘what the fuck?’” It sounds like a bunch of music that already exists, but hey, God bless ’em. They sold millions of records, right?

“There’s still only a small amount of people digging this type of music. Def Leppard will sell more tickets than Daft Punk regardless of how fucking awesome they might be.”

[As published in The Wire, The West Australian, Issue 07 , 09.07.09]


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