Bumper Crop: Kid Koala On Unlikely Inspiration

The turntable maestro connects the dots between the incidents and accidents that inform his creative process.

Bumper Crop: Kid Koala On Unlikely Inspiration

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Photo credit: Corinne Merrell

Some weeks back, I hopped on a Zoom to interview turntable maestro and Deltron 3030 member Kid Koala aabout his brand-new album Creatures Of The Late Afternoon. Unsurprisingly, given that my first experience with his music was a Money Mark concert in Cambridge, MA back in 1998, our conversation didn't follow a perfectly linear path. As you'll see in these outtakes from that chat, he went deep into his creative process, including an anecdote about some of the unanticipated sources of inspiration behind his 2000 studio album Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

Were there breakthrough moments or points in your life where your understanding of the turntables as an instrument notched up in some way or otherwise changed?

Kid Koala: There were a couple of paradigm shifting moments early on, in the Carpal Tunnel era when I was working on that record. I wanted to do a pure turntable record. I didn't have a sampler. I didn't have a DAW or anything. I was on a multi-track. A couple tracks on there opened the door. One would be "Fender Bender," another would be "Barhopper"–and "Drunk Trumpet." That would be one where I was just playing more around with bending notes over a blues cycle.

"Fender Bender" was one of those situations where I was sitting on that track and that groove and not really knowing where I was going to take it. And then something happened outside my apartment. At the time, I lived on this busy shopping street. And there was this fender bender, essentially, right outside. I heard through the window people getting out of their cars and kind of screaming at each other in this very cartoony–I couldn't hear any of the words 'cause I was at the back of the apartment, but it had this very cartoon-like [mimics cartoon voice gibberish]. The idea of it being like, oh, I wonder if I can emulate that sort of interaction on the turntable, to just try to get this argument going on the turntable. All of a sudden, the track just fell into place. Now it's about that traffic altercation.

It's almost like a diary entry from real life. I wasn't in the <laugh> accident, but I observed that and illustrated it through turntables. I was looking specifically for things to add to that track, like car horn sounds and motor sounds and brake screeches, trying to figure out how I could scratch a record and make it sound like that. It was just such a joyful thing where I realized this process isn't so much about making this song fit into like your three-minute-radio-single-jukebox-song or something. It was just gonna tell own story. That was funny when I realized that it can actually come from a real experience.