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