Kid Koala

Q&A: Kid Koala

Kid Koala: "Space Cadet"Kid Koala: Space Cadet (Ninja Tune, 10/25/11)

Kid Koala: “Main Title Theme”

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Kid Koala, born Eric San, is a Chinese-Canadian DJ who garnered recognition for distinctive styles of scratch turntablism and comical samples after his Ninja Tune debut Carpel Tunnel Syndrome in 2000. Since that time, the turntablist has toured extensively with huge names such as Björk, Beastie Boys, and Radiohead, composed several original film scores, and collaborated on numerous musical projects, including his own Deltron 3030 and The Slew.

San also has quite a knack for illustration, which he employed for his 2003 album, Nufonia Must Fall, a 352-page romantic tragedy about a love-struck robot paired with a short, jazzy soundtrack. His new release, Space Cadet (out tomorrow), is his second graphic-novel/soundtrack pairing, and it sets aside the eccentric scratching and samples to revisit San’s classical piano training. Inspired by the birth of San’s daughter, Space Cadet is a 132-page graphic narrative and dulcet soundtrack that chronicles a young girl’s adventures through outer space with her robot guardian.

Here, ALARM speaks with San about his newest multimedia journey.

When and how did you develop your turntable techniques?

I try to develop it everyday! I do it by practicing and listening to as many different styles of music as I can. Turntables are chameleon-like. The challenge for me is to see if I can learn to play them tastefully in whatever style is required.

In this technological age, with so many DJs transitioning from analog to digital mixing, why have you stuck primarily with vinyl turntables?

I like the sound of vinyl crackle and record burn.

Can you explain your thought process when choosing sounds to mix into tracks?

I usually have a melody or a story in my mind when I record. I try to bend sound into the melody that I hear in my head. I have a record cutter in my studio, so I will record a single guitar note or keyboard tone and cut it to a custom record. Once it’s on the turntable, I can bend it into all the other notes of the scale.

What do you mean when you describe your search for inspiration as “audio-voyeurism”? How did your inspirations differ between past albums and Space Cadet?

I think whenever you listen to a recording, you are hearing a part of someone’s life. I like to imagine the life story around the whole recording and what compelled people to make such recordings. Space Cadet was completely inspired by the birth of my daughter. Most of it was recorded before while she was an infant. Each piece on the Space Cadet score is a kind of turntable lullaby for her.

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Wagon Christ

Q&A: Wagon Christ

Wagon Christ Wagon Christ: Toomorrow (Ninja Tune, 3/07/11)

Wagon Christ: “Manalyze This!”

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Electronic producer Luke Vibert is a man of many sounds and aliases. Since the early ’90s, Vibert has recorded under his own name as well as under Wagon Christ, Plug, and several others to accommodate his sheer girth of recorded output.  His brand new release as Wagon Christ, Toomorrow, retraces his funky roots while pasting disparate vocal samples over waving bass lines and hip-hop beats.

Toomorrow is a 15-track collection that demonstrates Vibert’s humorous fusions and reflects the slinky rhythms of his Wagon Christ alias.  Here Vibert discusses the making of his newest record, the truth behind live electronic music, and how technological innovations have affected his material.

Your first record, Phat Lab Nightmare, was based on a lie, but you eventually got your foot in the door with Rising High. Do you think your approach to music would have been different had you not started with an impromptu ambient record?

That’s an interesting question. I don’t think anyone’s ever asked before. Yeah, I’m sure it would have been, probably. I have to recover, in a way, from that album. At the time, I think if I could have made anything, if I could have been totally free and making anything, I would have probably made very similar stuff to now. Like more funky break beats, and not so obviously ambient. But I sort of forced myself to try and make ambient music, and actually really enjoyed it. So then, slowly, that influenced the rest of my tracks. After a few years, I kept coming back to the album and thinking, “Actually, I quite like that.” So yeah, it definitely changed me for some reason, but it’s hard to think of how because it was so long ago.

Wagon Christ came about in the mid-’90s. How has the evolution of house and the abundance of new musical influences changed or affected Wagon Christ’s material?

It’s funny — I think, in a way, that it makes me more try to find my own sound and stick to that. I’ve had lots of people tell me, “Oh, man, your sound is quite dated, and the tracks sound very ’90s, and some people — kind of friends, really, all people I meet in clubs — often say, “Don’t you like dubstep?” (or some new thing), and I say, “Yeah — yeah, I do.” But I don’t really want to make it. I just want to find my own thing that I like doing.

Especially now that I’ve got kids and more work to do — like looking after them, and then more gigs that I have because the records don’t make so much money — I’m always off traveling around, touring. So I think when I do come to make music now, I just kind of really want to be me and forget about all new music. I don’t take much influence, really, from all the millions of new styles that have developed over the years. My stuff still sounds pretty old and basic.


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