Drunken Master: Interview With Kid Koala

kid koala_photo by selector marx

Kid Koala (ft. Dan The Automator)- “Unreleased Live Track”

I spoke with Dan The Automator back in ’05 when he was riding the success of Deltron, The Gorillaz, and Lovage. Kid Koala, who had emerged years earlier as a DJ with fresh, innovative routines, subsequently did the cuts and scratches on all those albums. At the time, Automator said this: “Koala does his own thing. I think other DJs are starting to catch onto his methods now. He has an amazing musical touch. Q-Bert’s technical, but Koala’s musical. He knows how to drop shit in and work the musical keys unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of DJs, and Koala’s acrobatics are amazing. There’s no one I’d rather have touch up my records than Koala. He’s insanely good.”

It’s been 4 years since that interview and Koala still does his thing. I’ve seen him do wildly entertaining sets without using headphones, tossing records behind him until they pile into huge, tipping stacks. His reputation as an oddball follows him, but so does a lot of reverence (Cut Chemist referred to him as his “hero” during The Hard Sell tour). Koala still uses only vinyl; still puts together weird projects that confuse and engross fans. I spoke with him recently, talking about his gear, his “Drunk Trumpet” routine, and seeing what future directions he thinks DJs might take. Koala hits the road later this month on a big tour–The Slew–with a live rhythm section and 6 turntables. Here’s our talk with one of the most creative DJs around, Kid Koala.

What new routines do you think DJs might start doing?
Turntable love ballads. Rocking parties is easy, trying to pull off a turntable serenade is a whole other animal.

You think DJs get better with age or is there a point when they’ve done all they can do?
I think as you get older it gets easier to communicate ideas through your instrument. Your life experiences and personality just sort of naturally come through the more you play. I look up a lot to those jazz musicians down in New Orleans. They seem to really hit their stride when they’re 70 years old. It’s like they’re monks of music. They just breathe into their instruments and the most beautiful sounds and stories come out.

What does your setup look like right now?
For The Slew tour we are using 6 turntables, 2 Rane Empath mixers, Radial Duplex DIs and an old Fender PA100 with two 4 x 8″ speaker columns.

No Serato?
I actually haven’t jumped over to that yet. I’m too lazy to bring a computer to shows. I have more fun with a pile of records. I guess I just wasn’t made for these times.

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