What you talking 'bout, Willis? Courtesy of Ninjatune.net

Kids Say the Darndest Things

By Herden A. Daza

Debuting earlier this week, Kid Koala's second full-length studio album, "Some of My Best Friends are DJs," bears much in common with his March 2003 release, "Nufonia Must Fall," instead this time the graphic novel illustrated by Kid Koala, is only fifty pages. Currently gearing up for the tour in support of this album, in a moment of downtime the opportunity arose to speak with the musical marsupial to find out about the album and all that it took to bring his project to fruition.

Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I'm fixin' beats. Courtesy of Canadacouncil.ca

"This interview is over," he croaks, not one minute after I reveal my amateur status as an interviewer. Laughing with him, I press forward nervously and hope he wasn't serious. Not everyday does one get to ask questions of pioneer and world-renown master of the 1's and 2's, Kid Koala. After the awkward post-guffaw silence, I am relieved that he is still on the line and answering my questions. Strapped in and committed to this ride, we begin to roll at a medium pace.

With the inclusion of the graphic novel on this release, Kid Koala hearkens back to younger days, when children's books came with records. In explaining his motive for this recording, he also drops in elements of his style and why his music is hard to dance to. "My first record experiences were always these storybook records. They were twenty-four page books with the little seven-inch vinyl and on the vinyl there was music and narration. There were characters talking to each other and there were sound effects. It was the type of record you would put on and kind of escape with it, you know. It's not something you would put on and go have dinner [with]." Regarding his artistic motives, he views it as a special gift for the listener. "The way I put things together, it's sort of like making a present for someone. I'm trying to make it as fun as I can. If you're making something for someone, you might wrap it in a certain way, and write a card or a secret message or something, and that's where the comics come in for me."

Regarding the creative process and the contrast between this record and the last, he portrays the sounds on them as "[a] lonely person's laboratory music and a chance to experiment with a bunch of records," differing in focus from his other works but not in content. Wielding his instrument of choice, the turntable, like a Viking gone berserker, Kid Koala is a juggernaut. "I'm having fun with the fact that turntables can flip formats so easily. This record takes it to musical and other production areas; sometimes just using them to layer in sound effects to trigger something in a story in a track…or rearrange spoken word bits, and then it's used kind of like a screenwriting tool."

This approach to using samples as a musical score for the imagination was first realized on the tour for his first publication, "Nufonia Must fall," and is again utilized to support his new album currently on tour. In store for the public's viewing pleasure, the show is stacked with eight turntables, a piano, and three DJs, all used to accompany skits and animated shorts from his artist friend, Monkmus. "This is more of like a short attention-span theater, a big audio vaudeville kind of thing. I know it sounds kind of daunting, but the way it's set up is more like a traditional band; not that there's any pretense of what's going to come out of the speakers will sound like a traditional band, 'cause it doesn't. What it sounds like is layers of turntable stuff, which could sound like a million different things." With this system in place, he hopes to make his instrument more accessible to the casual listener while broadening the horizons of the turntable-junky.

Ultimately, this is just another exercise in the art of having a good time from the "Kid Koala Handbook of Fun." From the days of his early teens, scratching by himself, it has always been about fun, and having the opportunity to do it for a living is the bonus. "To be perfectly honest with you, I'd be making more money as an elementary school teacher…but you just gotta do it for kicks."

Learn a little at www.kidkoala.com. Learn a little more at www.ninjatune.net. Learn a lot more at www.nufonia.com.

October 10, 2003



© APMN, Tom Plate.