Kid Koala is a hard-working, multi-talented turntablist from Montreal. You may have heard of him on his many contributions to various projects, such as Return of the DJ II, Handsome Boy Modeling School, and Ninja Tune's Funkungfusion compilation. Or, you may not have heard of him at all. Until now. Either way, check out his new, long-awaited album, Carpal Tunnel Sydrome, complete with his own written and drawn comic book instead of the usual liners. I met with Kid Koala at New York's Soho Grand. He showed me his cool digital watch which was actually gum packaging. Yes, flip open the watch and have some gum! He said the gum was no good though. We also talked about other things:
Who do you think would win in a battle between Ernie the muppet and Leatherface?
I'm not familiar with those movies,
Well Leatherface had a chainsaw.
So a chainsaw-wielding maniac vs. Ernie.
I think Ernie. Because he's got that passive
aggressive mind game thing. That little head
bob thing he does. I think eventually
Leatherface would just get frustrated and
drop his chainsaw. That bobbing thing is weird.
It's like a pigeon.
So, when did you get started DJing?
It was about '87, '88. I was in grade 8 or 9.
Groups like Public Enemy, Coldcut, De La Soul.
That really cracked my head open right there.
That's sort of when I stopped trying to be the pole
vaulter. I did track in high school. I mostly did it to
impress my girlfriend because I was an athletic-soccer
Where did you play?
It wasn't till like grade 11 or 12 I started DJing parties. Most of the time it was me in a room with some friends over just hanging out. Why Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Did you get that?
I think I might be getting it (laughing). Yeah, there's just sort of a squad of DJs who all hang out and it’s all real cool. But we're just super nerdy too. Just geeks sometimes. We don't get enough sunlight. We spend too much time isolated in small rooms with machines. Not enough vitamin C. Turntable scurvy, carpal tunnel syndrome.
Do you worry about getting rickets from not getting enough sunlight?
No, because I have this lamp in my room now.
Rickets prevention lamp?
I think so, yeah.
Have you ever seen a goiter?
No, is that pretty advanced?
It's a big, nasty, baseball-sized thing on the side of the neck.
Wow. When I first started working on this record it was quite hardcore because I thought I actually had to get it done in six months. That was quite a scurvy experience. I was racing toward carpal tunnel syndrome. Then I hit the road and kind of relaxed a bit but I still had all this other work that I still needed to do before I could record. I realized I'd pretty much played out my entire record collection to date. I pretty much had to find a new source of material.
How many records do you have?
About two or three thousand. I've moved apartments twice in the last three years and every time a lot of it gets donated to some stores. It starts taking over things. You bring them home five at a time, or friends say, "Hey! You still listen to records!" and they give you a crate of them. You just sort of line them up on the side of the hallway. Eventually it just got really crazy. Less and less oxygen in the apartment.
What was it like hanging out with the Beastie Boys on tour, considering that when they came out we were about 12.
It was just a real surreal experience. And playing with Money Mark and Mix Master Mike and being able to jam was just a good time. They're all really mellow. The crew's pretty tense, but the musician's are real mellow.
Mix Master Mike and Q-Bert say that scratching is a way to communicate with aliens. Do you agree with that?
Could be. But they have a much more high tech studio than I have. They do work for NASA, whole satellite dish and everything. My scratching I don't really think communicates to intelligent life forms. Anyone with more than one brain cell would think Kid Koala music is completely retarded. [breaks out laughing] I dunno, what do you think?
I can't wait for the album!
That'd be a weird way to have to talk. It'd be interesting if you had to find a record for everything you had to say. "I just don't have the words — hold on, let me just go to Tower, I'll be right back!" But I think that whole talking code thing is great.
Tell me about the comic you did for the album.
It's a romantic tragedy. Everyone always says it's a bit self-reflective, but I don't think so. I relate to a lot of the characters in some way. But it's not me. It started with the idea of serenading this girl by doing a routine of all love songs battle-style. A DJ trying to serenade somebody. Eventually it evolved into this whole graphic novel.
Speaking of comics, do you think the Amazing Spider-Man is really amazing?
I think so, yeah. Because even though you were radiated doesn't mean you get to have that sort of power.
But see, he was a radioactive spider-man, so he was just good at what he did. Kind of like you're good at DJing, but you don't say you’re the Amazing Kid Koala.
Yeah. If you think about that way, I don't know any other spider-men — If there were a bunch of them, and he was the best — Then maybe right? But yeah, that's pretty presumptuous. Fuck that guy.
Was your name always Kid Koala, or did you ever consider another marsupial?
A wombat. Is that a marsupial? That'd be cool.
'Cause you could keep the alliteration and go with Kangaroo. Kid Kangaroo.
Did you know the koalas are dying of syphillus? They're quite, uh, active. They sort of trade things, it's a real problem. They sleep a lot. Like 20 hours a day. People volunteer that information to me all the time. People are always like, "Yo, I clipped this thing in the paper about koalas!" [sarcastically] I'm like, "Okay, send it right over!"
What will you be when you're 40?
Forty-year-old Kid Koala? Forty? Grumpy-Old-Jaded-Cynical-Bastard Koala. [laughing]
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