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Kid Koala with DJ Anna
Saturday, September 20
Talking to Kid Koala ain't like talking to most of your hip hop celebrities, large or small. For one thing, he actually talks. Most of today's deck specialists would rather let their hands and the steel wheels do their talking for them. Either that or they have a carefully carved image of having "attitude" that prevents them from actually talking with, instead of to, someone. Even more uncommon is the fact that he's got a sense of humor that includes himself. Maybe it comes from the absurd situation of being taught to twist up the turntables by the most trusted newscaster in the US of A.
"I started eight years ago on my sister's cruddy Sanyo deck. Me and a floppy record from Time/Life. That was the only thing that wouldn't skip a needle, this floppy record I've got with Walter Cronkite all over it. Yeah, it's weird," he giggles. "Walt taught me how to scratch."
Think that's weird? Check out his favorite records listed in a recent issue of Muzik magazine: Medical and Social Aspects of Venereal Disease, The Muppet Show, Walt Disney's The Enchanted Tikki Room, and the all-time classic Miami Vice 2. The word "fun" is definitely in this man's vocabulary and like most greats, that word is also the reason why he does what he does.
Waitaminit. For a jokester like you, sitting in your room by yourself, day after day, with piles of records is fun?
"Usually I have the most fun when what I do affects what someone else is doing," he counters, "whereas if it's just me I have to vibe off the crowd. If the needle skips, everyone looks at you! When you're in a band you can cover it up.
"My ideal situation is to just be a piece in a band."
Oh, yeah. He's also a DJ that doesn't really play out by himself, but with his band Bullfrog. They've been together for a few years and Kid Koala credits them with developing his musical, not just his deck, skills.
"They were a band that wasn't interested in doing a song and having a DJ section where I scratched as fast as I can for eight bars. They said, 'Hey look, this is our chord. Can you play this note anywhere?' Then they'd send me on a rampage trying to find a sample with that note on it or a sound that would fit. I really appreciate that," he continues, "because I have to play as part of the band."
Speaking of appreciation and the band, how do they appreciate all the attention that his DJing has been getting lately?
"They're super supportive," he says without missing a beat. "Right now we understand that there's a lot of hype around with 'turntablism' or whatever. Hopefully the attention I'm getting will come to the band because they taught me how to play it musically. Before that it was just me rockin' over breaks or whatever. Y'know, pretty much an ego trip!"
"But they taught me to just play less and make some music."
It seems like that ego trip might be finished, though. All he wants to talk about is his band, the Coldcut/Ninja Tunes posse (who released his album Scratchappyland recently and with whom he just finished touring the US), and most of all DJ Anna, from Om Records in San Francisco, who will be playing with him on Saturday night at the Night Gallery.
"Definitely write about Anna, man," he says. "She needs press, I don't. I'm tired of reading the same shit about myself!"
Well, if you were writing about her, Kid, what would you have to say? "She's wild, man! Her tape is my favorite and my girlfriend's, too. She's so mature and just has sooo much taste. She doesn't scratch at all but the stuff that she plays is so tasteful and deep. In fact," he adds deviously, "I told the promoter I'm not doing the show unless he flies Anna out from San Francisco."
Well heck, if that's good enough reason for him to come from Montreal to play, ain't it good enough reason for you to come downtown and listen?
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