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Kid Koala

Chinese-Canadian turntablist and illustrator Kid Koala was born Eric San in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1974. Classically trained on the piano, San instead put his fingers to work on a pair of Technics 1200s starting in the late '80s. He was a college pub DJ and bedroom turntable manipulator for nearly a decade before landing a recording deal with U.K. experimental hip-hop duo Coldcut's Ninja Tune imprint in 1997. San's eclectic approach to sound collage is actually closer to the latter's far-flung beat experiments than the old-school New York and L.A. references that most often form the canon of the scratch DJ's art. It's also a circle-closer of sorts: San's nascent mixing aesthetic was influenced early on by classic Coldcut records such as "(Hey Kids) What Time Is It?" and their "7 Minutes of Madness" massacre of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full." The coincidence of Koala signing to his heroes' label, despite the fact that it was based thousands of miles away, and home mostly to instrumental trip-hop and computer funk producers, was less a coincidence than it would at first appear. San managed to arrange an "inadvertent" car ride with the group when their label's Stealth tour passed through Montreal in 1996, making sure his mixtape, Scratchcratchratchatch, was in the car stereo well beforehand. Excerpts from that tape doubled as Kid Koala's solo debut Scratchappyland when Ninja Tune, duly impressed, released it as a 10" in July 1997. Koala also appeared on the second volume of the Bomb's Return of the DJ compilation with his track "Static's Waltz," another excerpt from his mixtape. Subsequent Ninja Tune releases included Kid Koala remixes of DJ Food's "Scratch Yer Head" and (fittingly) Coldcut's classic "Beats and Pieces." From there, Koala became a major member of the Ninja Tune roster, as he released several warmly received projects, nearly all of which featured his own comic book-style illustrations. His first full-length, the bewildering yet seamless Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (2000), was quickly regarded a turntablism classic. After collaborations with Dan the Automator, Gorillaz, and Deltron 3030, as well as participating in the jazz-funk group Bullfrog, he released a solo follow-up, Some of My Best Friends Are DJ's (2003). He also released a graphic novel titled Nufonia Must Fall, which was packaged with a soundtrack CD. Live from the Short Attention Span Audio Theater (2005) was a brief CD/DVD set, quickly trailed by the mixtape-style Your Mom's Favorite DJ (2006). Something of a diversion, Phon-O-Victo (2007) found Koala teaming with experimental turntablist Martin Tétreault. Koala also collaborated with turntablist Dynomite D and former members of Australian hard rock band Wolfmother for a side project called the Slew. Their debut album, 100%, was released in 2009. The subdued, piano-driven Space Cadet (2011) accompanied his graphic novel of the same title, inspired by the birth of his daughter. 12 Bit Blues (2012), perfectly titled, was made with an SP-1200 sampler and a multi-track recorder. Some pressings of the album were packaged with a kit to assemble a tiny hand-powered cardboard gramophone, as well as a 5" flexi-disc. In 2014, Koala premiered Nufonia Must Fall Live, a theatrical adaptation of his graphic novel, featuring a cast of puppets and a live score in collaboration with the Afaria Quartet. A limited picture disc LP of the production's music was released in 2015, and the show toured throughout the world, to much acclaim. In 2017, Koala released Music to Draw To: Satellite, an ambient pop full-length featuring Icelandic singer Emilíana Torrini. The album was Koala's first work to be devoid of samples -- he played and produced all the instruments himself, in addition to writing the lyrics. ~ Sean Cooper & Andy Kellman
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Stations Featuring
Kid Koala

Albums by
Kid Koala

Top Songs by
Kid Koala

  1.   Song
  2.   Basin Street Blues
  3.   2 Bit Blues
  4.   Grandmaphone Speaks
  5.   Epilogue
  6.   Strut Hear
  7.   Satellite by Emiliana Torrini
  8.   Beneath the Heat by Emiliana Torrini
  9.   Fallaway by Emiliana Torrini
  10.   Adrift by Emiliana Torrini
  11.   Transmission 3
  12.   Transmission 2
  13.   Photons
  14.   Perihelion
  15.   Denouement
  16.   10 Bit Blues
  17.   5 Bit Blues
  18.   4 Bit Blues
  19.   Today Tomorrow: Page 37
  20.   Return: Page 125
  21.   Main Title Theme: Open Your Book
  22.   Expedition: Page 45
  23.   3 Bit Blues
  24.   Slew Test 2
  25.   No, Fantasy Island!
  26.   Godzilla a les Blues
  27.   Pluto Attack (La Revanche des Exclus)
  28.   Drum-O-Scope
  29.   Right Side: Slew Test 2/Gimme a K!/Mosquito vs. Waterbuffalo/Slew Test
  30.   Left Side: Start Heeeeears Koala/Stoppin' Traffic/Tracks Etc./Slewtest
  31.   Vacation Island
  32.   Robochacha
  33.   Barhopper 2
  34.   Temple of Gloom
  35.   A Night at the Nufonia
  36.   Barhopper 1
  37.   Drunk Trumpet
  38.   Third World Lover by Dynomite D
  39.   Annie's Palour
  40.   Collapser by Emiliana Torrini
  41.   Connectivity: Page 129
  42.   Nerdball
  43.   Novachord
  44.   Nightfall Pale Blue by Emiliana Torrini
  45.   6 Bit Blues
  46.   More Dance Music
  47.   Skanky Panky
  48.   Stompin' At Le Savoy
  49.   1 Bit Blues (10,000 Miles)
  50.   The Darkest Day by Emiliana Torrini
  51.   8 Bit Blues (Chicago to LA to NY)
  52.   Space Cadet 2
  53.   Birthday: Page 71
  54.   Naptime
  55.   Hope: Page 115
  56.   On the Set of Fender Bender
  57.   Void: Page 86
  58.   Transmission 1
  59.   Music For Morning People
  60.   Flu Season
  61.   L 'Ile aux Trésors?
  62.   11 Bit Blues
  63.   Page 278
  64.   Goodbye: Page 8
  65.   Roll Credits
  66.   Dawn: Page 97
  67.   Elevator Hopper
  68.   Like Irregular Chickens
  69.   Speed Of Light: Page 102
  70.   Strat Hear
  71.   Radio Nufonia
  72.   Roboshuffle
  73.   Remembrance: Page 10
  74.   Apoapsis
  75.   Negatron Speaks
  76.   9 Bit Blues
  77.   Recyclotron: Page 110
  78.   7 Bit Blues
  79.   The Observable Universe
  80.   Page 275
  81.   Fender Bender
  82.   The Hubble Constant
  83.   Window: Page 25
  84.   Emperor's Main Course in Cantonese
  85.   Scurvy
  86.   The DJ Factory Turn Crazy
  87.   Michel au Pays des Merveilles
  88.   Cardboard Stars, Seashells: Page 100