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Kid Koala's self-described "vinyl vaudeville" breaks records

Wednesday, Oct 22 2003
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Kid Koala, aka Eric San, 28, may be as cute as a koala bear, but this Canadian's DJing skills are more like a grizzly: awe-inspiring, intimidating, and not to be messed with, as demonstrated on his new record and in his elaborate "Short Attention Span Theater" revue.

San first received recognition in 1996 for a little mix tape called Scratchcratchratchatch, a mind-blowing agglomeration of Björk, Phil Collins, Charlie Brown dialogue, the theme to Monty Python's Flying Circus, and much more. He was signed to the acclaimed Ninja Tune on the strength of the mix, which the label released on 10-inch as Scratchappyland. After collaborations with heavy hitters like Money Mark, Dan the Automator, and Del tha Funkee Homosapian, San released his first solo LP, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, in 2000. Comprised completely of scratches and bits of dialogue, San's record took the art of DJing to a new level, and while it was loved by critics, it left most listeners, er, scratching their heads. San's new album, Some of My Best Friends Are DJ's, picks up where Carpal Tunnel Syndrome left off, but instead of being difficult, it's delightful: Big-band samples meet hand-tweaked trumpets, electro beats and reggae bass lines intermingle with vintage dialogue cut from the obscurest of records.

San"s "Short Attention Span Theater" will not be your typical DJ show. The opening act, a woman named Lederhosen Lucil who sings about things like phone bills in a Bavarian accent while dressed in, you guessed it, lederhosen, will set the tone for the evening. San and his band of merry turntablists, which includes San Antonio's DJ Jester the Filipino Fist and Montreal's DJ P-Love, will perform on eight decks, using scratching skills to simulate the basic parts of a band (vocals, bass, drums, etc.). Animated shorts by Monkmus, director of music videos for San's "Basin Street Blues" and "Fender Bender," will be shown in the background, and San will conduct some gather-"round-the-campfire-style storytelling as well. The DJ describes his show as "vinyl vaudeville": "I'm having fun with the format of what a show can be like I have fun with the format of what a record can be."

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Anna Klafter

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