Kid Koala at the Toronto elimination round of the Technics/DMC Canadian DJ Championships, Friday (June 29) at the Opera House (735 Queen East), $15. www.dmcworld.com Rating: NNNNN
as one of the world's best scratch DJs, Kid Koala knows it's a form that takes years to perfect. But you have to start somewhere.You'll see both the marvels and the blunders of scratching when upstarts spin at the local elimination bout of the Technics/DMC DJ Championships at the Opera House tomorrow.
Koala, who released his Carpal Tunnel Syndrome album last year on Ninja Tune, has won international recognition for his jazz-meets-scratch innovations. But he isn't gracing the contest as a competitor, opting instead for a showcase set. He's been too busy touring the Canadian jazz fest circuit with Bullfrog, his funk band that complements Koala's crazy urban samplings, and has been gearing up to open for Radiohead on the eastern leg of their North American tour.
But Koala will definitely watch the DJs duke it out. Each gets six minutes to strut his or her stuff. This year's Canadian elimination process started May 23 in Ottawa and winds up July 21 in Montreal, Koala's hometown. The Canuck final happens August 16 in Ottawa, and the world championship showdown unfolds September 23 in London, England.
Although Koala views the runoffs as a positive force, he says he's not the competitive type. He hasn't entered the contest in over six years and has no plans to do so.
"Nowadays I'm a lot more Zen about things. If I were to compete, it would be about putting something down on the table, which is what I think is its grander scheme, and not always about your rank.
"But since it's a competition, everyone's looking for a victor, which is sort of an incentive because it might open some doors," he says while his cellphone crackles and blanks out at a gas station somewhere in Saskatchewan.
A competition is also one of the few places where people create new tools to scratch and help develop the sound.
"The competitions are forcing the scratch technique to progress and they up the innovation and technical level. They've spawned battle records -- vinyl made specifically for scratching."
For Koala, the competitions are less about showing off skills than a way to push the envelope. And, hey, if it gets you out of the basement (where most DJs say they practise), why not?
"Anything that gets you out of your little bubble and exposes or opens your mind to something is always good."