The long-awaited sophomore album from MSTRKRFT, “Fist of God,” will be released in the States on Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak/Downtown in March, Billboard.com has learned.
And the record, most of which is already in the can, is “really different from our last one,” says bandleader Jesse Keeler.
The Toronto-based duo of Keeler and production partner Al-P won fans worldwide with its 2006 debut “The Looks” (Last Gang), a bombastic blend of electro, pop and high-energy noise, which was pushed onto dance floors by adventurous DJs like Aoki. Last Gang will continue to release MSTKRFT’s music in Canada.
“We just wanted to try different options for America, and I don’t think there’s anyone in the States who’s been a better supporter of us than Steve Aoki, championing our stuff,” says Keeler. “So when he approached us it just seemed like it made a lot of sense. It took a lot of convincing though, because we’re not quick to do anything, ever.”
Aoki started Dim Mak in his apartment in 1996, before he became the favorite DJ of both the celebrity and hipster party scenes. The label, which has released music from Bloc Party, Datarock, Foreign Born and Sh*tdisco, signed a marketing and distribution deal with Downtown this January.
“Downtown did Gnarls Barkley, which is another record that’s hard to pigeonhole. It inspired us to see what they could do with a record that didn’t have an easily defined genre or place,” says Keeler.
MSTRKRFT tested the waters with Dim Mak in October via the single “Bounce,” a collaboration with reggaeton star N.O.R.E., which will be included on “God.” The album’s other guests include Ghostface Killah, E-40, Freeway, Lil’ Mo, and John Legend — a definitive move to a different sound that Keeler admits “we thought would alienate some people.”
“We wanted to make a record that was more ideologically like a throwback to when rap and R&B production was old school; the line between that and dance was very blurry,” he says. “We knew people were gonna hate, because idiots don’t like music because they like listening to it. They use it as a way of defining who they are. When it changes, it leaves them in a tough spot — ‘I can’t use this to create my identity anymore’ — and their reaction is negative.”
“It’s the same as when the Strokes came out: rock music returning to what it was born from,” says Al-P. “When you get back to the essence of things, sometimes cool stuff happens.”