“This is the first Kid Koala record that you can actually dance to.”- Eric San, Kid Koala

“I did a couple tracks for Baby Driver and when Edgar [Wright] reached out to me he said, ‘OK so this character, he’s kind of a loner, he stays in his room all night and makes weird mixtapes using little bits of audio that he collects,” Eric San tells Sidewalk Hustle. “I said, ‘Edgar, you just described my entire high school life.'”

Eric San (Kid Koala) still sees himself as the kid drawing in a corner alone, but that kid has grown up to become a scratch DJ/producer who’s sold out Madison Square Garden, worked with Nintendo and at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), contributed to film scores such as Baby Driver and The Great Gatsby, collaborated with acts like Gorillaz, created immersive, truly experimental and oddball live music shows (Space Cadet Tour) and composed music for Adult Swim, all while humbling releasing albums since 2000. He’s also completed two graphic novels and can now add a video game to his treasure chest.

Released on April 27, Floor Kids Original Video Game Soundtrack is a 42-track, 71-minute soundtrack to accompany the previously dropped video game Floor Kids, which came out in late 2017. The game was put out as part of Nintendo’s “Nindies” program, currently available via Nintendo Switch, soon to be on STEAM and for Xbox One, PC and Playstation 4, too.

Floor Kids celebrates b-boys, b-girls and the art of breakdancing. San’s creative partner Jonathan Ng (a.k.a. award-winning animator b-boy, JonJon) is the visionary behind all the artwork and animation—he drew over 10,000 frames of animated b-boys and b-girls for the game.

In the game, characters play through eight different venues. You can unlock new venues where you battle and also unlock new characters each with 16 different moves. That’s eight characters with 16 moves each, so creating varying, fresh vignette music with tact is essential. San created the music for these stages as well as for the menu and stats pages and tutorials of the game.  The tracks needed to be “short and loopable” so on the Floor Kids soundtrack you’ll hear just that: short, two minute and under clips that wind with the action of the breakdancing game.

“The album is a double vinyl album of music from the Floor Kids breakdance video game, which I’ve been working on for the last five years,” San says. “I took from my experience with break battles but also just from scoring to visuals….the music is made for the gameplay, so we’re talking two minute round tracks, we’re talking venue tracks that you might only stay on for 20 seconds…whether you’re digging through the map, selecting your character, looking at stats or in a battle, all the music was made to match.”

At first he thought like some may: Who’s going to listen to a soundtrack if you’re not playing the game? San says he received so many requests from game players who wanted music to workout out to or something uptempo to keep them motivated to clean, so he moved forward with the soundtrack.

“This is the first Kid Koala record that you can actually dance to,” San explains. “The reason I chose these tracks and why we put them on the vinyl goes back to my time Dj’ing at break battles where you were always trying to find that perfect drum break. It was always just about trying to stay in the cut and not wipe out essentially,” so the tracks you hear are meant to fill temporary time signatures, as you shuffle, select and move about.

Heard on the soundtrack is “Five Spot Stomp,” which plays like a loopy jazzy club tune that’s just over two minutes, keeping a hook that crafts to the art of breaking. The voices on the countdowns you hear are his daughters.

In addition to the game and the soundtrack, Kid Koala has embarked on the Vinyl Vaudeville: Floor Kids Edition tour, which came to Toronto last week, and touches down in Vancouver, San Francisco, Austin and Brooklyn, among others.

Now, would it really be a Kid Koala live experience without interactive playtime and weirdness? Nah.

“We’re bringing arcade consoles so people can battle each other before the show. We have turntables of course, all the music is done on turntables…there’s giant dancing puppet penguins, we have a nine foot ogre, ants that play trombone,” explains San.

Just the usual.

He also made a megamix from the Floor Kids album because why not?

Kid Koala is all about telling stories and shovelling those stories onto masses of people to chill in. His music is a sort of a pacemaker, kept within a tight trajectory, and that’s been part of his M.O. since day one and the release of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

“The way you can kind of Frankenstein little phrases together, you can tell a very personal story,” explains San. “Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is almost like a comedy album with little bits of dialogue that’s supposed to set up characters in awkward situations, so I’m scratching them but at the same time it’s telling a bit of a story, and in some songs it’s actually telling a personal story too. Other times it’s just telling some fantastical fantasy story.”

For now, he’s created a fantastical story with a sincere appreciation for hip-hop and the breaking community. Floor Kids is yet another immersive sound exploration from the Koala, one that’s formed from his own admiration of video game music.

“Game music is very much a part of my DNA…I remember games like Castlevania, the music specifically, it’s full of earworms. I could probably whistle each level to you, especially the boss levels.”

Floor Kids is out via Arts & Crafts and available here.

photo credit Corinne Merrell