Canadian born Kid Koala (Eric San) has already made a name for himself, both as a solo turntablist and as a member of hip-hop supergroup Deltron 3030, which also featured Dan the Automator and Del tha Funkee Homosapien. Kid Koala’s most recent collab finds him working with frequent partner Dynomite D (Dylan Frombach). The project was originally planned to be the soundtrack to a documentary that ended up being scrapped. Undeterred, the two decided to release the work as a standalone under the name the Slew. It’s clear why: the music is an intriguing mix that seems to veer giddily between hip hop, funk, and vintage rock, frequently anchoring Koala’s skillful turntable work to hard rock guitar riffs that sound like they’d fit in fine on a classic Zep album.
Perhaps the most surprising element in the Slew’s uncommon music is the other collaborators being brought on board for an upcoming tour: Chris Ross and Myles Heskett, formerly the rhythm section for ’70s rock fetishizing Wolfmother. It’s one of those pairings that might have seemed unimaginable beforehand, but makes perfect sense. We chatted over email with the Kid to get the info on the development of the music, the tour, and the future of the group.
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Flavorpill: What was the original reasoning behind the collaboration?
Kid Koala: Everyone’s trying to bring back the ’80s. We decided to do one better and bring back the ’90s. We’re ten years farther into the future/past. It’s like a Seattle grunge record, but all made off of turntables. We cut all the parts on to vinyl and reassembled it live in turntable layers. No one will notice… but we wanted to do it that way. In hindsight, it probably wouldn’t have taken four years to complete if we had just played everything on instruments and skipped the whole cut to vinyl and recut it back to tape part. Everyone we spoke to thought this was a really backwards way of making a record. We were the only two totally in to making a recording like this, so we knew we were going to work together from the start.
FP: How do you know Chris Ross and Myles Heskett?
KK: It was a strange sequence of events… Myles had come to one of my gigs in Sydney but he didn’t recognize me at first because apparently I look way taller on stage. But we didn’t formally meet until much later. A few months later Dylan was asked by the club to do lights for their show in Seattle… which is funny because he’s not even a lighting guy. They were so impressed with his lighting that they all hit it off. He told me that I should check out the show when they played Montreal.
FP: What made you decide to release this work separate from the documentary?
KK: One of the coolest things about this project is we had the opportunity to work with Mario Caldato Jr. We did the final mix of the recordings at his studio in LA. Both Dylan and I were big fans of his work on Paul’s Boutique and Check Your Head. Mario was the only one we wanted to mix the soundtrack so we were glad that he wanted to be involved.
I remember us leaving Mario’s studio and listening to the final master in the car and being so stoked at how heavy it sounded. At that point… we didn’t care whether or not the film would ever be made, we just knew we wanted people to hear the tracks… well, at least our skater friends in Seattle.
FP: You’ve worked with Dynomite D in the past, such as on Bombay the Hard Way 2. How similar were these sessions to previous work?
KK: The sessions were completely different. This is a rock record.
FP: The album has themes of soul, funk, and even hard rock. Were there any inspirations or touchstones shared while working on it?
KK: We wanted to make a grunge record out of turntables… so this is like Grungelism. You know… it’s like Black Sabbath meets Terminator X.
FP: One of the influences that seems to run through a lot of the songs, such as “Robbin’ Banks (Doing Time)” is vintage hard rock. Does any of this come from Ross and Heskett’s contributions?
KK: When they heard the material, they wanted to be involved, but we had already finished the recording sessions. Someone mentioned the possibility of doing a live show so we asked them and the rest is history. We are currently working on a new Slew recording that involves Chris and Myles.
FP: What can we expect from live performances? Will there be material from outside the album?
KK: The recording is the blueprint for the show, but we’re planning on exploring the songs further in the live context, as well as previewing some of the new tracks. Let’s just say it’ll be a show you won’t want to miss.
FP: I’m told that you’ll be using no less than six turntables at shows. Are there benefits for a DJ using that many turntables live?
KK: It’s the only way we will be able to recreate all the layers of the tracks live. Plus I’m not playing all six of them myself. P-love will be on this tour cutting up records with me.
FP: Is this a one off collaboration, or has there been any talk of future output from the Slew?
KK: The video we did is for “It’s All Over,” but this is just the beginning. We never expected all this attention from this project, but we already have offers from a bunch of different rock artists and some films and TV series. So yeah, we are pretty excited for the future of the Slew.