Kid Koala Has Turned His DJ Concert Into a Vaudeville Show
Eric San is best known as Kid Koala, an adorable DJ, producer, and author who hails from Montreal and is signed to the Ninja Tune label. He renders himself even cuter by turning the idea of what a mixmaster can do on its ear. While many DJs are pretty boring to watch, Kid Koala has the staggering technical ability and the right sense of whimsy to keep people riveted. And for his new 12 bit Blues Vinyl Vaudeville Tour, he's added puppets, robots, parlor games, and dancing ladies to the mix. We recently called the Kid to speak about his new live show, which arrives at the Independent this Sunday, Nov. 4.
Emma Gutteridge Kid Koala.
Vinyl Vaudeville definitely sounds like something that has never happened before.
Kid Koala: That's what I'm hoping. Well, it's been done before, but not quite in this way, I guess [laughs]. It's a variety show that's part music, part comedy, part acrobatics, part breaking the fourth wall or what-have-you. It came up because on my 12 bit Blues album, I was using old-school equipment to make the record: SP1200s and vintage synths and oilcan delays and old microphones. And I thought, when it was time to do the live show, that it wouldn't make sense to get some really flashy, brand-new light show.
I thought it would be more fun to work with old forms of entertainment, and we came up with the idea of a vaudeville show. We're bringing dancing girls and puppets, some which are based on characters in the comic books that I've done, and -- well, I don't want to give it all away, but there are a lot of twists and turns in the show that we're pretty excited about exploring.
And did you hold a casting call for the dancers and the puppets?
You know, no -- I met this girl named Adira Amran and she's a musical comedy act in her own right. She had this show called Adira Amran and the Experience, and I saw the show maybe four years ago and it just blew my mind in terms of how quickly she could light up an uninitiated crowd. I thought, we've gotta do some touring together. I've been waiting for the opportunity to work on that with her. She brought her choreography ideas and her whole crew into what I've tried to do as well, and I think there is a great synergy between the styles. I still watch her set every night, and it's different every night and hilarious.
So is your show different each time, is there room to improvise?
Oh yeah. There are a lot of things that are kind of hanging -- I don't want to say by a thread, but we're on a bit of a tightrope. There are puppets and costume changes and choreography and time that we've allotted to set different things in the show. Sometimes we are able to pull it off and sometimes we miss cues, but we have to recover from it somehow. I like that, I like that in many ways there is no safety net and we just go for it. And all of it musically is balanced on three tiny record needles and a couple sample boxes. I enjoy that and I think people can feel that energy.
Is there anything that hasn't worked so well with this show that you've had to reconsider as you've been touring?
We haven't had to drop anything so much as we have kept trying to improve things. Our first show in Geneva, I felt like I was at the poker table and trying a new hand with every move. We were playing all these hands, and we didn't know if any of them were gonna work or if we were gonna get crickets, so that was the litmus test.
Seriously, is there any DJ or producer out there who is having more fun than you are right now?
I don't know! Fun is such a weird gauge, but if I'm not having a good time with it, then I'll just stop doing it.