Born: Eric San on 1975 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Styles: Hip-Hop, Electronica, Underground Rap, Turntablism, Trip-Hop, Club/Dance
Instruments: DJ, Producer
Chinese-Canadian turntablist Kid Koala was born Eric San in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1975. Classically trained on the piano, San instead put his fingers to work on a pair of Technics 1200s starting in the late '80s. He was a college pub DJ and bedroom turntable manipulator for nearly a decade before landing a recording deal with U.K. experimental hip-hop duo Coldcut's Ninja Tune imprint in 1997. San's eclectic approach to sound collage is actually closer to the latter's far-flung beat experiments than the old-school New York and L.A. references which most often form the canon of the scratch DJ's art. It's also a circle-closer of sorts: San's nascent mixing aesthetic was influenced early on by classic Coldcut records such as "(Hey Kids) What Time Is It?" and their "7 Minutes of Madness" massacre of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full." In fact, the coincidence of Koala signing to his heroes' label (despite the fact that it's based thousands of miles away and home mostly to instrumental trip-hop and computer-funk producers) was less a coincidence than it would at first appear; San managed to arrange an "inadvertent" car ride with the group when their label's Stealth tour passed through Montreal in 1996, making sure his mix tape, Scratchappyland, was in the car stereo well beforehand. Excerpts from that tape doubled as Kid Koala's identically titled solo debut when Ninja Tune, duly impressed, released it as a 10" in July of 1997. Koala also appeared on the second volume of The Bomb's Return of the DJ compilation with his track "Static's Waltz," another excerpt from his mix tape. Subsequent Ninja Tune releases included Kid Koala remixes of DJ Food's "Scratch Yer Head" and (fittingly) Coldcut's classic "Beats and Pieces," plus the 2000 full-length Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The follow-up Some of My Best Friends Are DJ's appeared in 2003.
-Sean Cooper (All Music Guide)