Kid Koala: All Roads Lead To The Blues The Canadian DJ introduces hip-hop's golden age to New Orleans blues on his new album, 12 Bit Blues.

Kid Koala: All Roads Lead To The Blues

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From the wild, wild west of an Italian Western to the deep, Delta South and the blues.


SIMON: This is the music of Eric San. He goes by Kid Koala when he performs. He's a bluesman, but he doesn't play the harmonica or a Fender guitar. Kid Koala is a DJ.


SIMON: A real DJ who spins discos on huge turntables with his fast hands, scratching old-fashioned vinyl records till they scream. He toured with the Beastie Boys. Now, Kid Koala's taken that DJ equipment and produced a turntable blues album. It's called "12-Bit Blues." Kid Koala says a turntable was his best ticket into music and all of its allures.

KID KOALA: I wasn't one of those kids in high school that could just write poems and play guitar and all of sudden have six girls kind of swooning for me.


KOALA: Turntables was one of those things that I just gravitated towards. I can learn how to do this and maybe I can become a DJ and be invited to all the parties. That would be a great way to make friends. And it's a very romantic idea, I guess.


KOALA: I'm from Canada, you know. I'm the furthest you could get from New Orleans or the Mississippi Delta. But as I got into my high school years getting into hip-hop and getting into rock and the rowdier aspects of music and I realized that all those roads, that most of the music that I enjoyed eventually led to the blues.


KOALA: This is a track called "3 Bit Blues." I used a lot of antiquated equipment, most of it older than me, most of it unkempt, lost, orphaned, forgotten machines, decades old that I found at flea markets or Salvation Armies or what have you, and I just wanted to squeeze out one last sort of swan song out of them if I could.


KOALA: When you hear that feedback sound right there with the little rattlesnakes, that's an oil can delay, which is technology that still baffles me. It's essentially a tuna can filled with electrolytic oil and then there's a disk that spins inside of it that has a playback head and a record head. The record head dips as it spins - dips into the electrolytic oil and charges the oil, and the oil actually stores the sound. And you kind of get this warbly. dusted, underwater Doppler-type of effect. And it's so spooky and ghostly. I just love it.


KOALA: Did I succeed in making it a proper blues record? I would be always the first to tell you that any blues purist or any jazz purist would kind of listen to my stuff and just dismiss it quite quickly. Like if you play my version of "Basin Street Blues" to actual, you know, New Orleans Jazz combo, they'd probably say, wow, those musicians sound really drunk.



SIMON: Kid Koala. A blues man, DJ hybrid. You can hear a couple of songs from his new album, "12 Bit Blues," at This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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