I remember first reading about Kid Koala in Alternative Press what seems forever ago. What I knew was he was an incredible turntablist who stuck strictly to vinyl (no laptops) and would go through a hundred records in an hour long set. I listened to his first album and didn’t hear much about him over the past twenty years and it turns out I’ve been missing out.
Kid Koala is now a legendary turntablist who has took the art and thrown it sideways by creating unique ways for the audience to experience his music from video games to graphic novels, build your own hand cranked turntables to mixed media live events like the one we experienced tonight.
The Satellite Turntable Orchestra came about from Kid Koala writing music to match the bleak Canadian winters he has grown acustom to. He crafted an ambient album that tells the story of a couple separated by a one way trip to Mars. The way he told the story, once the album was finished his label asked “how are you going to tour in support of this record?” which lead to the creation of the Satellite Turntable Orchestra.
After a brief scratching warm up Kid Koala instructed the audience, seated at tables on the stage directly in front of the DJ and a multimedia artist setup. The instructions outlined what we had in front of us: a turntable, three different colored records, a volume fader, a light to let us know which record to play and guitar effect pedal that was made expressly for this event. He then taught us each some very basic turntable techniques. Armed with that knowledge we were ready to support him as the Satellite Turntable Orchestra.
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert or musical event where the audience was absolutly integral to the performance like this. Sections of the audience were playing one color record while others were playing another. For one song a conductor instructed us how to manipulate the sound, with half of the room doing one thing and the other half doing another. We even participated in a beat battle with Kid Koala where he would scratch something for four measures and then let us respond.
The experience was so unique but also intimate. The fact that we were up on stage, not in the audience. How he told personal stories in between each song. The excitement in his voice while talking about his mom. The pain in his voice while talking about a family member he lost to suicide. He took what should have been the most boring thing ever, going to see a live DJ perform ambient music and made it the most enjoyable and unique concert I think I have ever been to.