Kid Koala: The Master Manipulator

On Novemeber 19, 2013 I went to take photographs of the Deltron 3030 show. Kid Koala performed twice, once as part of the live Deltron crew, but before this he opened the show.

It feels like I will never forget this experience: I walked into the Alex Goolden Hall moments after confirming with the security personnel that I was indeed allowed to bring in my ‘removable lens’ camera (the perks of the media pass). It was a first for me; I had never been in the massive building, a former a church, now an attractive setting for performance. The performance space: a circular room, quite large with pews from its former religious days, a pipe organ which takes up the entirety of the back wall. In front of the organ is the stage, a large round platform, approximately 1m in height, taking up 1/6 of the total space of the room. Above, a balcony which spans the whole circumference of the hall minus the space taken up by the organ.

After the few moments it took to come to terms with the space, VibeUps correspondent PaxCat and I found optimal seating. I was unaware that soon I would experience powerful magicks at the hands of Kid Koala.

Given the ‘formal’ nature of the venue’s seating, Kid Koala lightheartedly commented about the great number of down-tempo tracks he could play for us. This gave many of the college kids in the crowd a fright but they seemed willing to go with it; Kid Koala had some sort of psychic hold on these people. Not having any direct experience with the styling of Kid Koala, I was perfectly open to anything.

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Despite the ‘joke’, Kid Koala did indeed start with some calm(er) tracks. These initial tracks, including an unreleased tune in collaboration with Gorillaz, were beautifully spun. By spun, I do indeed mean that these tracks were compositions performed with vinyl records and turntables; the musical instrument of the turntablist.

Like most anyone reading this, I have had the pleasure of seeing/hearing very competent musicians play their instrument; a master’s technical ability alone can be breathtaking, not to mention the sounds which they are producing. Now, consider the turntable as an instrument. They certainly fit at least some of the criteria of any other instrument: they are used to play music and they can be manipulated to produce different sounds. Given this criteria I can safely say that Kid Koala is one of the finest musicians I have ever seen. The skill at which he manipulated the decks (three turntables), the techniques he employed (at times literally moving the needle, by hand, from note to note to create a new melody from a record), and that he performed all this entirely without headphones, points to his astounding prowess as a musician. buy steroids online best HGH pills smart pill how to get a bigger penis

Kid Koala Lights It Up

Let me break these three things down a little further:

Three turntables is not unheard of. There are some DJs who use more (and many who use less). From what I observed, Kid Koala primarily uses his third turntable in order to overlay a beat on tracks which are already playing or as a way to keep a steady beat with which to play off of.

A steady beat is useful for many of the techniques in his gamut. For example, at least once I observed a technique called Beat Juggling. In its original definition, this technique utilizes two copies of the same record in order to create loops of various sections. In essence, the DJ plays the section they wish to loop on one record while, muted, he sets the second record to play from the beginning of this same section. Once the first record finishes playing the section, it is muted and the second record is, simultaneously, un-muted allowing for the section to be (re)played. Following this, the first record is set back to the start point of the section. This process is then repeated for as long as the DJ wishes and, when done well, a continuous loop is formed. Koala’s loops were seamless.

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Any technique using two (or more) records will usually require that a scratch DJs use headphones in order to be able to perform the manoeuvre. This is because, with the example above, for instance, if one record is playing the DJ will use their headphones in order to monitor (listen) to the muted record (muted to the audience). Kid Koala does not use headphones. You may not be impressed but I cannot stress how much I am. Without being able to monitor the muted record, a DJ must rely on visual cues (often things stuck to the surface of the record), auditory cues (un-muting the record to produce a scratching sound used to locate the sound on the record) and an enormous amount of practice. Just remember that if a DJ intends to play two different records at the same time the songs must be started in such a way as to line up the rhythmical elements. These songs must also be playing at the same tempo, if they are not the DJ must adjust the playback of one of the records (which, you can imagine, would be far easier using headphones).

Koala 3

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A final note worth mentioning is this: there are classical training techniques for many instruments which have been developed and taught for hundreds of years while the turntable has been used as an instrument for less than a century. Thus, most DJs do no receive formal training for their instrument. As a result there are far fewer turntablists than people who play popular instruments (such as piano) and as such there are fewer exceptional cases of turntables as instruments.

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Kid Koala is, without a doubt, exceptional. Moving from turntable compositions (pieces composed for and performed on turntables using specific records and techniques; replicable) to live mixing of other musicians songs, such as Björk, he took me to a place I had never been before. He is without a doubt one of the finest and technically adept musicians I have ever seen. And, to top it off, he’s friendly.

You can see more photos from the show here