"I think DJs are victims of circumstance," jokes internationally established DJ Eric "Kid Koala" San. "It's not genetic, you have to be driven to it. Heartbreak, being too short for basketball, 12 years of piano lessons -- these could lead you to turntablism. A background [of] typing, knitting -- things that involve short strokes, not long, broad strokes. Ways to spot a potential DJ include bad posture, jittery fingers, giant flowerpot headphones. Scratch culture is so built in isolation. DJs definitely need more sunlight."
For a DJ, San's not half-bad. Corrupting the youth aside, he's downright great, both as a turntablist and an interview, where he's willing to make fun of the very reason for his notoriety. Those unnatural twitches have resulted in the stylus-stuttered compositions that Koala has committed to two critically lauded albums for acclaimed U.K. label Ninja Tune, and allowed him to score such high-profile gigs as touring North America opening for Radiohead.
San has etched a groove for himself out of scratchy vignettes and a sense of wistful whimsy. After a coveted underground mixtape, San widely established himself with 2000's Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, meant to be a collection of 12-inch beat-oriented material, that when finalized, became a homespun tribute to surreal sketch comedy derived from densely textured sound effects and dialogue samples.
San followed up with Nufonia Must Fall, not an album but a romantic/tragic/graphic novel penciled and inked by San with digital grayscale gradients by his friend Louisa Schabas. Accompanying the book was a 10-track, 16-minute CD of intimate headphone-composed plaintive piano pieces. Published by Toronto's ECW Press, Nufonia is a "silent paperback film" meant to be a 100-page, 10,000-word minimum book, which two years later emerged as 350 illustrated pages with only a few hundred words.
"I always do things incorrectly," sighs San. "But my life's not 100-pages interesting, just yet. Instead, we went by the 'picture's worth a thousand words' score. Because I try, I really do."
He's not lying. Now releasing his second full-length, Some of My Best Friends Are DJs, San has made an album he describes as "traveling some places and then coming back to where it started, trying some experiments along the way." Best Friends Are DJs is more similar a journey to Carpal Tunnel than Nufonia in that it's like a series of humorous short animated films, though more subtle than slapstick, as San relies more on flair and flourish than flash and fizzle.
"I felt like doing a fun record," says San, who composed everything from vinyl Vaudeville to hand-cut jazz on the album. "I wanted to make little radio plays with background music where you add the dialogue -- do some sort of record as if the Kids in the Hall bought turntables to do an episode."
Now San is taking what he describes as his "Short Attention Span Theater" on the road, reinventing tracks as a "band" with DJs P-Love and Jester. Each of them plays a part: guitar, drums and bass with their turntables (aided by a touch of real keyboard). There are short films the trio will score live nightly. The tour is similar in scope, though not quite as romantic, to the candlelit Nufonia theater tour (complete with a "make-your-move music" intro and interludes), but as always San promises more action than just what happens on stage.
"You know the scene in The Wedding Singer when [Adam Sandler is] singing the quiet song and Drew Barrymore asks the lonely kid to dance and everybody starts dancing and grabbing each other's asses? That's how people have been reacting," chuckles San.
Hugs not drugs. We may be able to save the youth yet.
ooooohhhh, I'm so excited!! I can't wait to see them together!
come on man you know you got a bromance. you probably still rock that OutKast…
Yes, 14 is the correct answer. I'll pass your info along to the group's manager,…