The Calgary Folk Music Festival starts tomorrow (July 23), so we’ve got another interview with a featured artist. Beloved and incredibly creative Canadian DJ Kid Koala (aka Eric San) will on the Twilight stage this Friday night (with his outstandingly fun Vinyl Vaudeville show). Anyone familiar with Kid Koala knows that he’s been a huge presence on the Canadian DJ scene for almost two decades (first North American artist signed to the mighty Ninja Tunes record label) and has worked with a number of other artists, including Gorillaz, Handsome Boy Modelling School, Lovage, Amon Tobin, and many others. We called Eric up to talk food, and here’s what he had to say:
Are you much of a food guy?
Yeah, I’ve been DJing since I was 12, but I’ve been eating since I was zero. So I guess you could call just about anyone a professional. I’ve been chewing for decades now!
Not everyone is like that though. Some people just eat for sustenance.
Yeah, and I do that sometimes too. Sometimes you’re just that busy that you’re walking and eating sometimes. The thing about music is that I usually have a two and a half hour cut-off before a gig. I’ve tried to recalibrate to make that shorter but I just can’t. The performance always suffers. Not even eating a lot, even if I eat a granola bar within two and half hours of showtime I don’t scratch as well.
Are you much of a cook?
I enjoy cooking for other people. I have a lot of respect for chefs. A lot of my friends in town are chefs, mainly because we have the same hours. I’ll get texts from them asking if I’m still awake and I’ll say “Yeah, I just got off a gig, I’m starving,” hinting that I want to go eat. I can imagine working in those commercial kitchens, it’s non-stop. So they’re on a crazy adrenalin rush at the last night and the last thing they want to do is eat food that they’ve prepared. So they’re always looking for someone to go to a noodle joint or a late-night taco place.
I think food and music have a lot of things in common in general. The people I meet in the food industry, most of them are already fans of music. Sometimes surprisingly so in terms of the attention of detail they pay to music. They go deep, it’s almost DJ-level nerdom of music. I haven’t done a proper study on why that is. But I’ve been told a lot that my albums play in commercial kitchens. Which makes sense to me because I have a short attention span and with some of my earlier work the tracks are a minute or a minute and a half long, which is just enough time to sauté something perfectly. It gets the momentum going!
What are some of your favourite cities to tour through, food-wise?
How long do you have for this interview? In every city there are a handful of haunts that I really enjoy and it’s almost a fail if I don’t make it to at least one of them. One place that comes to mind, which isn’t a secret, is in LA and was introduced to me by Dan the Automator who’s also a huge foodie is this place called Versailles, which is a Cuban chicken restaurant. And we’ve literally missed playing because there’s one on the way to LAX and we stopped. It was a plane tour and we were heading to the airport and missed the flight and had had to rescheduled.
So, we’re interviewing you because of Calgary Folk Fest. Have you found that festivals have stepped up their game as far as food goes?
In Montreal, we have Osheaga, which is one of the best catered festivals in the world. And the way it’s set up is just really fun and sociable. I’ve been to a lot of festivals where you ladle your food and go sit at your table with your band and your crew and you see the other bands and their crews, but no one gets up and mingles or anything. But the way Osheaga has it set up it’s just a big dinner party full of people who are into music.
The Vaudeville show I’m bringing to Calgary has dancers and every song is a new act. So there’s costumes and puppets and all kinds of things. In one song they come out as flight attendants and usually on the rider there’s a bunch of food that we can’t possibly finish because the dancers, like myself, can’t eat right before a show. So what they’ve been doing is bringing the rider out on these nice trays. We were playing a festival last week and people had been out all day and some of the food stands were overly pricey. So they brought out the food from our rider and they were attacked. People were climbing over each other to get some food. Which is weird… because it’s Canada.
I actually did a show last year with Fred Morin from Joe Beef. We did a show for the Luminato festival where we set up in this full-size train car that this guy set up in his basement. Fred and I wanted to do an event together and we did it as a train kitchen party in this train car. We had eight seats per show and did 12 seatings. And that’s the closest I’ve been to working in a restaurant. And it’s no joke! There’s a lot of things to take care of.
What is your favourite kind of pie?
Rockaberry apple crumb. There’s a bake shop here called Rockaberry and their crumb pie is delicious.
The Calgary Folk Music Festival takes place in Calgary on Prince’s Island Park from July 23-26. Check out our interviews with other performers like Hawksley Workman, Adam Cohen, Oh Susanna, Kim Churhill, and Reuben and the Dark.