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The Kid Is Back 

In Canadian turntablist Kid Koala's universe, anything can happen

Wednesday, Mar 26 2003
In Canadian turntablist Kid Koala's universe, anything can happen: Bruce Lee's martial arts techniques can be applied to manipulate vinyl; Charlie Brown's Halloween lament can morph from "I got a rock" into "I gotta rock" (on Koala's rare Scratchhappyland album); and female workaholics can fall in love with unemployed robots. The latter possibility isn't the gist of Koala's latest sound collage; it's the story line of his first book, Nufonia Must Fall. And characteristically, Koala (aka Eric San) has cooked up a fresh way to promote the graphic novel. Instead of a typical author's tour where he would've holed up at the nearest Borders or Barnes & Noble, he'll celebrate in cozy venues and supper club settings, with live music and games of "literary arts bingo."

Fans of the Montreal-based scratch DJ would expect no less. Though Koala's got the technical dexterity of a competitive turntablist, he's not your average mixer manning the decks. He supplements his razor-sharp skills with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and a natural affinity for storytelling, sampling everything from Chinese language tapes to Star Trek episodes and Winnie the Pooh cartoons to create narrative-driven vignettes and quirky sonic sketches. Consequently, writing a book isn't a far stretch for Koala. (His debut CD, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, came complete with a 35-page comic about the misadventures of a young DJ.)

A romantic tragedy about the affair between a robot and a woman, Nufonia Must Fall is described on Koala's Web site as "the greatest love story of our time." Chatting via cell phone from Toronto, Koala is quick to clarify such a grandiose testimonial. "I said our time, not all time," he explains. "Because our time could last about five minutes. Actually, it's the greatest love story this week -- or at least until the next greatest love story is written."

Though the 350-page comic novel contains no dialogue, it's accompanied by a 10-track, 16-minute album of piano-based compositions that serve as theme music for selected scenes. ("We're all about value," Koala jokes.) Fearing that a loud nightclub might not be the best venue for a reading, Koala and his cohorts have planned an evening that they're billing as the "perfect first date." The intimate affair will include a candlelit four-course meal, slide projections of illustrations from the book, rounds of bingo that should whet the audience's appetite for Nufonia's characters, and special guests like DJ Jester. But Koala won't be checking his ability to juggle beats at the door. He and musical partner DJ P-Love will be operating four turntables and two pianos, tickling the ivories with one hand while working the kick drum with the other.

As if Koala weren't busy enough fanning the flames of romance and playing with his jazz-funk band Bullfrog, he's been recording his latest album, Some of My Best Friends Are DJs, which will be due out on Ninjatune this fall. It, too, will be promoted via unusual circuits: Koala and video collaborator Monkmus are planning a sit-down theater tour of North America, an event they're referring to as "the big one." Seems Kid Koala has just scratched the surface of his talents.

About The Author

Lisa Hom


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