Kid Koala is one of the mainstays of the Ninja Tune label, his expressly nostalgic and maudlin approach to turntablism fitting comfortably between texture-oriented art music and mood-setting party music. His latest release, Space Cadet, is a follow-up to an earlier such venture, Nufonia Must Fall: it’s a graphic novel with a score. He recently discussed the overlap between his comics and turntablism — between the scratchboard on which he made the drawings, and the scratching that is the foundation of his music — as part of a wide-ranging, and highly recommended, interview on the record label’s podcast. It’s downloadable as an M4A file — essentially an MP3 with embedded images, and a slightly more finicky nature in regard to playback.
Among the influences on his work discussed during the podcast interview is Carter Burwell, best known for his scores for Coen Brothers movies. Koala talks about the difference between scoring a movie and scoring a book, noting that while the music is intended to be listened to while one reads the graphic novel, he’s not particularly dictatorial about the speed at which the book is read, or how specific instances in the score are intended to align with instants in the narrative.
He’s touring in support of the album. The evenings are something he’s described as a “seated headphone concert,” in which the audience settles into “space pods” and listens to the music on devices that allow them to adjust the volume. Interestingly, Amon Tobin, arguably the other main artist on the Ninja tune roster, is also doing a multimedia tour right now, though Tobin’s audio-visual effort, titled Isam, is far more technologically demanding than Koala’s (it’s described at amontobin.com as a “25′ x 14′ x 8′ multi-dimensional/ shape shifting 3-D art installation … enveloping him and the audience”).