Feature: Kid Koala

Published in the May 3-10 issue of NOW Magazine

Better known as Kid Koala, Canadian turntablist/musician/author Eric San says he’s in clubs and at concerts 200 nights a year. But his new Space Cadet Headphone Experience tour allows him to bring his young daughters – ages three and three months – on the road with him for the first time.

An exploratory, interactive complement to his second graphic novel, Space Cadet, about a girl-child astronaut, the tour is logistically and conceptually more complex than carting a laptop or even stacks of vinyl to a club. Throughout the audio-visual show, San cuts and stacks Space Cadet’s rockabye soundtrack of orchestral noise and plays piano while concertgoers sit back in “space pods” and take it in via headphones.

“It’s sort of like a pop-up, cozy, relaxed, crib-like atmosphere,” laughs San while rooting for Polaroid cameras in a Walla Walla, Washington, antiques store. He added a social element by including a gallery that you walk through prior to the show, featuring his space record collection, sculptural installations and original etchboards from the graphic novel.

“As much as I’m a fan of being in a really crowded, sweaty place and smelling armpits all night, some [past concert experiences] that really got me have been intimate ones like the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s,” says San, who’s also a member of cult alt-rap group Deltron 3030. “Or even if it’s a big concert, [I like] those moments when [the musicians] do the quiet songs.”

Specifically, San didn’t want this tour to be one where “you come and you dance to 140 BPM all night and then take the book home and cry yourself to sleep.”

A side effect of this contextual presentation of the graphic novel and soundtrack is that the tour is kid-friendly. “Young families seem to be bringing their toddlers, which is great,” San says. “That’s mainly because we’re playing venues like planetariums and biospheres.”

But San says the tour wasn’t specifically designed for younglings. So did he instead have in mind all those music lovers grateful for the chance to sit down at a show?

“Yeah,” laughs San. “It was really about [creating] something we’d want to attend as adults.”—ANUPA MISTRY