HIP HOP TURNTABLISM KID KOALA Cottier Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 1 Nov
‘We’re all about more value for your entertainment dollar.’ You’d balk at this comment if it came from anyone else, but from cuddly Canadian scratch DJ, Kid Koala, you know it makes sense. This, after all, is the man, signed to Ninja Tune, who released his debut album, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in 2000 with a free video game and a 32-page comic illustrated by the Kid himself. His latest album, Some of My Best Friends are DJs, a stunning mix of scratching skills and musical styles including blues, jazz and ska, comes with a music video, a 50-page comic book and - get this — a free travel chess kit.
Born in Vancouver in 1974, Kid Koala - Eric San to his mum - probably spent most of his life closeted away in his bedroom tinkering with turntables. He could have emerged from this a social freak - which in some ways, he says he is - but instead he’s blossomed into an extraordinarily gifted musician with a lot of love to give.
‘DJs in general lead pretty estranged lives,’ he says, laughing. ‘At some point these people, myself included, gave up any sort of social life to spend hours and days and weeks in rooms by themselves with these spinning machines and plates and plates and plates of vinyl.’ During the early years of ‘training’, Eric’s mum bought crates and crates of the soft drink, Koala Springs. His friends started calling him ‘Kid Koala’ and after playing a couple of battle DJ competitions, the name stuck and there was no going back. The signing to Ninja Tune was equally accidental, a result of Coldcut’s Jonanthan Moore hearing an early version of Eric’s now collectable mix tape Scratchcratchratchatch.
For as long as he’s been DJing, Kid Koala’s also been doodling, hence the comic book
accompaniments to his records and even a book, Nufonia Must Fall, published earlier this year. A 350- page love story about an out-of-work robot and a lonely office girl, the book came with companion music, providing yet more evidence that this idiosyncratic DJ can’t seem to stop giving. Talking about his latest album and its extras, he says it’s like a ‘loot bag at a party’ - what we would call a goodie bag. He adds: ‘It just keeps going and I think the new album has the most entertainment in terms of time because you can play chess for days.’
This kid just can’t stop giving. Above left, excerpts from Nufonia Must Fall
Extras are just what’s in store when Kid Koala brings his Short Attention Span Theatre tour to Scotland. Featuring three DJs - Kid Koala, DJ P- Love and DJ Jester - and eight turntables, the seated ‘variety show’ includes ‘Nufonia bingo’, an introduction to the characters in the comics in which lucky punters can win prizes.
‘I guess you can win the book and some CDs and maybe some gum. We’ll think of something,’ he says.
Back in Scotland this month with a fresh line-up and new songs from their forthcoming LP, They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, Aaron Hemphill of New York’s Liars reveals they’ve been dabbling in witchcraft, but swears they’re not Goths.
What happened to the old line-up?
To Sum it up. creative differences. Is it true that They Were Wrong, So We Drowned explores witchcraft?
Yeah, it's not like we're all Goths and stuff . . . it's like stories about witches that we researched. so it is very factual and harsh about Witch trials and folklore. But it's from a child's point of VIGW. We were all reading The [.lO/l, the Witch and the Wardrobe at the time. There are really neat stories
46 THE LIST 113—2/ Nov 9003
Shit! They found my secret stash of Bauhaus LPs!
out there. how people used to explain things. it was really far- Out back in the day.
How do you feel it differs from your debut They Threw Us All in a Trench . . .?
It's hard to say. it's pretty different. It shows a particular mood. I'm really proud of it. It's just a little darker I think, but again it's not Goth.
Liars are known for their pretty wild performances - what do you think makes a good show?
A mixture of it sounding good to us and it sounding good to the audience. because sometimes y0u're on stage and you can't hear anything. I think what makes a good show is just haVIng fun. I love playing live. It's where yOu get to improwse and change things and see what people think. (Carolyn Rae)
I Liars play King Tuts. Glasgow, Sun 16 Nov.
And he always does. (Catherine Bromley)
JAZZ TOMMY SMITH SEXTET Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 21 Nov; Concert Hall, Glasgow, Sat 22 Nov
The international sextet on Tommy Smith's latest disc and UK tour is straight out of the top drawer. But he arrived at the line-up of Joe Lovano. John Scofield. John Taylor. John Patitucci and Bill Stewart Via a process of elimination. When the saxophonist first devised this project (funded by the Scottish Arts Council's New Work scheme). he had some different names in mind.
‘I was looking at various musicians I really wanted to work with. McCoy Tyner was my first thought on piano. but his management wanted $25000 per concert. which killed that idea. Michael Brecker was very interested but couldn‘t fit it in. and it was the same With Dave Holland.‘
The sax0phonist has worked with each of the final line-up before. apart from drummer Bill Stewart.
‘Bill was recommended by Scofield. and l was blown away by his drumming. It was crucial for me to have the same musicians for the tour — I wasn't interested in going into the studio with a big name band and then touring with a completely different one. They all agreed to sign up for the whole deal.“
Smith composed ten new pieces for Evolution. which is actually the second part of a collaboration with poet Edwm Morgan that began with Planet Wave. premiered at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival in 1997.
‘l commissloned ten more poems from Edwin, which pick up chronologically where Planet Wave finished in 1600 AD. and take us into the future. I wanted to keep a speCIal connection With the original idea. The title relates to that theme. and so does the cover shot of me pushing a wave in the loch. but I also thought the music itself evolved and took its time more than in my previous group recordings.
‘We ended up with nearly two hOurs of music. and l was only able to use edits of eight tunes on the disc. I hope we can play all ten on the gigs. and I may issue a limited edition dOuble CD next year With all the music we recorded. along With Edwin's poems.‘ (Kenny Mathieson)
Back to the future for Smith