Kid Koala is game for anything, we talk to this hot DJ about making do and making beats.
WHETHER BRINGING his brand of turntable contortionism to the Gorillaz or Mike Patton’s off-the-wall side-projects, consummate Canadian DJ Eric San a.k.a. Kid Koala has never been one to shy away from collaborations.
His latest, Floor Kids (Original Video Game Soundtrack), is, as you might guess, a soundtrack to the Nintendo Switch game of the same name. Beyond scoring the game (which features characters hand- drawn by Montreal animator Jonjon), San actually played a key part in its feel. The head-spinning, joyous double-album combines decades of b-boy/girl styles, from early funk to golden-era hip-hop to modern- day modular synths. Not only did he dig up the dusty ’80s samplers for this, he also recorded drums, guitars, bass, and keyboards, cutting the sounds on vinyl and then scratching over them. Bet the DJ at your favourite tapas restaurant can’t do that.
Amid his 18-city “Vinyl Vaudeville” tour, we caught up with San to chat about video games, soundtracks, and his glaring lack of other hobbies.
What’s different about creating a soundtrack for a video game?
I’d say some of it reminds me of scoring for a film, just because I had to make it work with the aesthetics of Jonjon’s artwork. He did over 10,000 frames of animations and all this concept art for the city where the characters in this game inhabit. So he would just show me, “These are the venues that I think the kids will be able to battle at, this is what it looks like.” And I just tried to create music that fit that. So that part was kind of familiar. The part that was unfamiliar was knowing that sonically speaking, people that are playing are your musical collaborators. It’s really kind of a freeform, trick style game. That could mean one person goes from top-rock spin to a down-rock flip, and someone else could just do windmills for two minutes. So all the sound effects I had to create for each of those moves, I had to make sure they could cut through the mix and also not get stale.
How did you make the songs with breakdancing in mind?
Just from my experience of Djing at break battle and break events, I definitely knew the beats had to knock seriously, so that if you heard that beat you’d want to jump in the cypher and start throwing down. That’s still the goal post, to create music that went with all the eras of break culture, from the ’70s break anthem, ’80s electro, ’90s 12-bit sample stuff, turns, modular, and electronic synth beats.
Did you listen to any other video game soundtracks for inspiration?
I’d say the first Castlevania has just become a part of my thing. I’ve spent so much time on that game. I loved how it all worked together, the menu screens, the character select screens, the actual rounds and box battle music. It just had this beautiful narrative to it.