Tonight I learnt how to make amazing ‘Chocolate Brownies Mexican Style’* as world-renowned scratch DJ, graphic artist and all round affable charmer Kid Koala, launched his latest graphic novel Space Cadet, with an intimate and interactive show at Material/Red Gallery.
Previous tours have seen the audience joining in for games of ‘turntable bingo,’ as we arrive tonight there are notebooks, pens and pencils handed out. A stall selling home made baked good stands in one corner. One wall is covered with a projected image, a Kid Koala sketch of a robot tucked up, tucked up asleep in bed, it is a fitting back drop to a relaxed, and pleasant evening.
Kid Koala’s first graphic novel Nufonia Must Fall, was published with a soundtrack more than eight years ago. Since then his unique (both in music and in look) aesthetic has developed, the picture and the sound becoming ever more intertwined. While apparent even from debut album Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (with sleeve notes that included a short comic strip), over the years Kid Koala has proved deft at blending his strengths.
All the regular themes are in evidence on Space Cadet: loneliness, pathos drenched love, beauty and robots. The real innovation here is on the 15 song soundtrack which inclusion of strings, marimba and piano alongside the melancholically beautiful scratching. It is probably his fullest sounding record to date.
Occasionally these interludes are interspersed with a bit more vigorous mixing, as he previews some of his next album proper, 12 Bit Blues, which showcases his awesome scratching abilities. The sleeping robot is replaced by a video feed close up of his decks and knobs showing off his vinyl dexterity. A particular highlight is his reworking of Moon River, dedicated to his Mum, and still faithful enough to the original, it is a surprisingly fitting track for the mood of Kid Koala’s own work.
People are scattered around the basement room sat at tables, propping up a bar, or at the foot of pillars, everyone is scribbling away. Front and centre behind the decks, laptops and effects kit, Kid Koala watches over everyone, mixing records like some turntablist nanny. The atmosphere is lovely, the audience are enjoying it, and by the look on Kid Koala’s face (serene, almost beatific) so is he.
*add a pinch of cinnamon and coffee to the mix.
This article originally appeared on The What Where When on 18 September 2011