Three decades into an unparalleled career, Kid Koala continues to grow his immersive this-dimensional real-life cartoon musical universe with each orbit around the sun. The world renowned DJ, composer, and lifelong visual storyteller also known as Eric San has released his latest feat of “creating things to joyfully connect people” – an original double album soundtrack and built-in board game entitled ‘Creatures Of The Late Afternoon’. Centered around a cast of creatures who band together through the power of music to save their community from destruction, the album and the game together bear Kid Koala’s singular ability to bring to life the interactive worlds of his multifaceted multimedia imagination.
‘Creatures Of The Late Afternoon’ is what San calls “a journey through some of my favourite musical universes through the turntables.” What started as a testing ground for creating turntable tracks in different styles took shape as the score to an action film-inspired love story. The resulting album, a twenty-track two-disc set of instrumental jaunts, feature guest vocalists, and robot hotel interludes, furthers Kid Koala’s experimentation in electric, beat-driven, groove-laden, self-sampling, heartrending (even if it’s heavy), purely beautiful music. The accompanying board game, and its intricate world of characters, revealing another realm of San’s ever-expanding and interconnected universe of creations.
Stream or buy ‘Creatures Of The Late Afternoon’ now
The recently released single and video 1000 Towns – a deliberate and bluesy love song that deftly blends expressive hip-hop with the frayed garage and soul – reflects the depth of the carefully hewn project. Featuring the vocals of guest singer Coelacanth, 1000 Towns is built around an ambling piano melody, laden in needle scratches and percussive accidents, like many Kid Koala creations before it, in “1000 towns / 1000 times / Standing on the stage / Spinning plates around”. Followed swiftly in sequence by The Frequencies a buzzy alchemical turntable/krautrock jam that sets the hustle and bustle pace of daily life for the creatures, a theme returned to on the cinematic “car chase scene” of Highs, Lows, and Highways. Watch the video for 1000 Towns
The magic of Kid Koala is his uncanny ability to divine authentic sound in an original context, through most complicated methods and experimental instruments, to hang it with brilliant ease on a melody wrapped in sentimental emotion. One of the album’s most notable tracks is the charming When U Say Love (feat. Crayfish), a Motown- and distortion-heavy song inspired by the constant letters San’s parents exchanged by mail over seven years while living oceans apart before they saved enough money for his mom to join his dad in Canada. “Throughout that time my father would tape songs off of the radio onto a reel to reel and send them to her as well to hear,” San recounts. “My mom would listen to the songs and pretty much learned English by listening to the lyrics which she would transcribe, sing along to, and study. Often the music were these 50s love songs sung by vocal groups and small bands. I thought I would write a turntable song inspired by that era.”
Revealed in four stages, the double album further entrenches Kid Koala’s intersecting love affairs with music, visual arts, and games, including his Floor Kids official video game and soundtrack released in 2018. ‘Creatures’ tracks like the playful Let’s Go – an 8-bit video game inspired vignette laden in electronic scratches – highlight the spiralling themes and sonic cues that link each of Kid Koala’s new inventions retroactively. Watch the video for Let’s Go via YouTube below.
Accompanying the album and board game release, Kid Koala is sharing a series of mini-documentaries entitled ‘Something To Do With Everything, Nothing To Do With Anything,’ delving into the making of the Creatures world, including early drawings, exotic instruments, and other anecdotes from late afternoons in San’s workshop. Episode 3, themed ‘Robots’ is the most recent in the weekly mini-doc releases. Watch EP. 3 in the making-of mini-documentary
“This is the most playful and dynamic album I’ve done to date,” San says. “It was a fun time in the studio, exploring the writing/recording process in this way. There is a wide range of moods on the tracks in terms of both energy and emotion and I’m excited about how the music has turned out.” San performed and recorded all the instruments in his Montreal studio, then cut the stems to vinyl on his homespun record lathe, and reassembled them on turntables into the uplifting yet sentimental sonic adventure at hand. “Now I can’t wait to get working on the stage production,” he says in typical Kid Koala fashion.
A brief but standout cameo on the record is Los Angeles art pop sensation Lealani, who contributes lead vocals and irrepressible energy to the socially conscious party anthem Things Are Gonna Change. After impressing with a slew of live duo dates in North America in early 2023, the Kid Koala X Lealani Tour resumes for a bout of newly announced major market USA dates and one Ontario show this July. See full dates below. Watch Things Are Gonna Change (Feat. Lealani)
Kid Koala has built an ever-expanding web of artistic universes that dart across disciplines yet always coalesce in San’s singular mindspace. Since starting as a scratch DJ in 1994, Kid Koala has transformed the turntable into a tool of expression, continuously challenging the idea of genre, always unfolding new pages of his singular artistic roadmap. Already including a constellation of immersive visual projects like his theatrical cinema experiences ‘Nufonia Must Fall’ and the current globe-trotting ‘The Storyville Mosquito’ production, Kid Koala expresses his unique creative vision with a multidimensional intersection of sound, image, and emotion. From his award-winning graphic novel ‘Space Cadet,’ to the interactive audience rituals of his ‘Vinyl Vaudeville’ events, the ‘Satellite Turntable Orchestra’ launched from his ambient ‘Music To Draw To’ records, plus the breakdance video game ‘Floor Kids,’ each new addition to Kid Koala’s portfolio charts a fascinating new course. The blueprint to a future stage show, ‘Creatures Of The Late Afternoon’ is an inspiring addition to Kid Koala’s armful of spinning dubplates.
‘Creatures Of The Late Afternoon’ is out now via Envision Records. Featuring 20 new Kid Koala tracks on double vinyl in gatefold jacket, including the built-in board game, 8 vinyl-only board game tracks, inserts with game pieces, dice, and 150 game cards. Listeners and players alike can create creature bands, dig flea markets for instruments and gear, all to write and record heartfelt songs in multiple genres, with the one Kid Koala as your guide.
‘Creatures Of The Late Afternoon’ track list
1. Hear Now
2. 1000 Towns (feat. Coelacanth)
3. The Frequencies
4. Robohotel 1
5. Things Are Gonna Change (feat. Lealani)
8. When U Say Love (feat. Crayfish)
9. Highs, Lows & Highways
11. Get Level (feat. Hammerhead)
12. Hyperion Station
13. Let’s Go!
14. Jump & Shuffle (live at the Hardware Store)
15. Once Upon a Time in the Northeast
16. The Cards (feat. Manta Ray)
17. Robohotel 2
18. Renaissance of Reconnaissance
19. Rise of the Tardigrades
20. Til We Meet Again (live at the Natural History Museum)
Buy the 2LP vinyl with board game now
May 6 – Chicago, IL – Epiphany Center for the Arts (2 shows)
June 24 – Victoria, BC – Ska and Reggae Festival (opening for Brother Ali) *
July 24 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall *
July 25 – New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge *
July 26 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom *
July 27 – Detroit, MI @ Loving Touch *
July 29 – Minneapolis, MN @ Chase Bliss (10 year anniversary) *
July 30 – Chicago, IL @ Subterranean *
July 31 – Hamilton, ON @ Bridgeworks *
* Kid Koala X Lealani