CHARLES MEIER MCMAHON ’18
On February 11th, Trinity College will be blessed with the presence of the elusive rapper/producer Kid Koala. Chances are you haven’t heard of the Canada based disc-jockey, but Kid Koala— otherwise known as Eric San— isn’t known for chasing the spotlight. Rather, San collaborates with well-known musicians, often producing and writing key tracks for their albums/mix tapes. San’s talents have recently been featured on the soundtrack to the Baz Luhrmann directed 2013 film adaptation of the Great Gatsby, as well as the soundtrack for Scott Pilgrim v. The World (2010). In 2001, Kid Koala worked extensively with Damon Albarns on the eponymously titled debut album for world-renowned supergroup Gorillaz. Sans, a multitalented instrumentalist, spun the turntables for many of the tracks on the album, working alongside producer Dan the Automater, as well as rapper Del the Funky Homosapien. Although Kid Koala tends to dwell in the background of albums, focussing predominantly on production, he is constantly working.
Koala’s career started while he was a student at McGill University, in Montreal, Canada. Employing a production style known as sampling, Sans would mix commonplace, mundane sounds into his music, adding a unique and funky layer to his spinning. On his first mixtape, Scratchcratchratchatch, Koala sampled dialogue and scores from the well-known Charlie Brown television specials, and in time, the tape began to sell. Becoming somewhat of a campus phenomenon, Sans signed with underground English record label Ninja Tune. The label was started by business partners Matt Black and Jonathan More, both of whom record EDM tracks under the pseudonym “Coldcut.” More and Black were inspired to create an artist-friendly record label after visiting Japan, where, at the time, musicians were given more leeway over what they recorded, and how long they took to do so then their American counterparts. The company, upon visualizing their goal, has been described as “reliably excellent” by trade magazines, and continues to attract uncompromising artists. Koala’s first official record, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, was released in 2000. Like many of Sans’ other releases, the CD version of the album is interactive, coming attached with a video game reminiscent of arcade shooter “Asteroids.” The beauty of belonging to an independent label is that, as an artist, you get far more creative liberty then you would with a major company. So, Koala was afforded the luxury of designing his own cover art. On what appears to be cardboard, Sans drew a shelf in a record store, with his own album, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, being displayed prominently in the middle. The album was incredibly successful in niche circles, and in order to promote it, Koala toured extensively around the globe, providing the opening act for artists such as Radiohead and Bjork.
Koala’s live shows are often unpredictable, with one notable performance featuring a game of bingo in the middle of the set. Sans may specialize in music, but he is a performer/entertainer in all interpretations of the word. If you purchase a Kid Koala mixtape, for example, you’re not simply walking home with a small disc in a plastic bag. No, your CD comes complete with a graphic novel featuring illustrations that accompany the album. In 2003, Koala’s Some of My Best Friends Are DJs was released, coming complete with a teeny tiny chess set to play while listening. This whimsical sense of humor comes out in Kid Koala’s live shows where, despite popular musical conventions, he tries to push the envelope regarding what is acceptable during a performance. When he visits Trinity on the eleventh, Koala will not be performing your normal, run-of-the-mill DJ set. San’s series, Music to Draw To, has been to many cities throughout the US and Canada, with the explicit purpose of providing a totally new, revolutionary way to listen to music. Kid Koala describes the show as follows:
“A few years ago we started an event called Music To Draw To in the middle of winter in Montreal. I would play calm, down tempo music while people in the in the room drew, wrote, coded, sewed or whatever it was they brought to work on… all lost in their own creative worlds but synchronized to the same music. There was a palpable creative energy in the room and it was unlike any dynamic I’ve ever felt at a show. Ever since those events, I’ve been trying to think of a way to achieve a similar energy in concert form. A show that was deliberately slow, meditative, emergent and creative… where everyone in the room contributed in a small way to create the music.”
On a college campus, this genre of music would definitely be conducive to studying, creative writing, and a plethora of other quiet-time activities. The show will take place at the Austin Arts Center Friday, February 11th at 3:00, followed by another set at 7:30. Tickets are priced $5.00 for students, and $25.00 for general admission.
CHARLES MEIER MCMAHON ’18