Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani
By now you may have heard about the cool-cat show taking place this weekend. It’s happening at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and will go down something like this: Eric San (DJ name Kid Koala) plays slow-fi, cinematic tunes and you listen to them through wireless headphones while sitting in inflatable pods designed by San’s set-designer wife, Corinne Merrell. It’s called the Space Cadet Headphone Experience and it’s happening all weekend. Here’s a bit a compendium of trivia, tips, and brain-filling tidbits to know. Consider it your pre-show guide, thanks to Ottawa Magazine.
THIS IS PURE HIPSTER-PARENT BAIT
Two of the five shows take place well before bedtime. This means you can combine sound seeking with teachable moments while you take your little ones through the pre-show, hands-on Space Gallery. It has a spaceship music console, a jukebox, and cookie-decoration station. Mike Feuerstack, of the band Snailhouse, will be deejaying in the preview area before the show.
Breeding does not mean losing your cool. Just look at San and Merrell. They are parents to three-month-old Ruby and three-year-old Maple and are still designing inflatable pods and music shows that recall rave culture’s chill rooms. This is what happens when ravers grow up, take inspiration from their salad days, and keep their cool.
WHO IS KID KOALA?
He’s a Montreal-dwelling DJ well known for his diversity. The man can do party-rocking beats, and can also keep company with A Tribe Called Quest, Mike Patton, Radiohead and DJ Shadow—just some of his previous tour mates. He’s had three solo albums released on the Ninja Tune label including the 2006 release, Your Mom’s Favorite DJ. San is quite the curator and conceptualist. His previous tour, called the Short Attention Span Theater, featured turntable bingo, while the Music to Draw To tour was all about QT. He continues that theme with this performance.
The Space Cadet show is based on San’s graphic novel of the same name. His etch board illustrations of robots, astronauts, and naïfs document people trying to find their way in the universe. The accompanying music takes its cue from old cinema scores. It’s contemplative balm for live-in-your-head types and will probably put toddlers to sleep.
What to take from the experience? You can enjoy the spectacle of it all and meditate on the themes that San presented in the 132-page graphic novel that inspired the music score. (Both the book and the album are called Space Cadet). The album starts with a tune called “Open Your Book.” It cycles through songs called “Expedition,” “Void,” “Recylotron,” and “Hope” before closing with a track called “Connectivity.” If you’re not clueing in to the point of it all just yet, we’ll bash you over the head with it: You’re s’posed to be contemplating themes of the future, isolation, technology, dependency, earth exploitation, and pathos, dude. Or as San puts it: “At one point in your life, you have to deal with the metaphysics of everything—for me, it’s always by throwing yourself into a project. Those moments reveal themselves when you’re in a zone.”
OTHER RANDOM INTERESTING DEETS
Ottawa is the second Canadian city to mount this show. There’s a photo here of the show at the biosphere in Montreal last July.
Gear company Sennheiser lent Kid Koala the high-quality wireless headphones for the show. In an earlier set-up, he had to connect hundreds of wired headphones to his soundboard, leading to a spaghetti tangling of cords.
When coming up with the idea for this show, San was inspired partly by the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times and the concept of life on the conveyer belt, mixed in with real moments of humanity.
The preview gallery part of the show—where you make cookies and stuff—is all good fun, but it also serves a point. It’s the social part of the show before everyone goes into their own zone with their headphones. “Without being too precious about the concept, the show is about the idea of a connection,” San says, “but it’s also anti-social because everyone is listening on their own set of headphones and inside the room, it’s pin-drop quiet.”
There are 5 Space Cadet shows happening: tonight at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3, 7 and 9:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. They take place at the museum (11 Aviation Pkwy). Tickets are $26, $18 for kids aged 4-14. www.aviation.technomuses.ca
Punks gather at the Montgomery Legion tonight to play covers by the Ramones, Teenage Head et al in support of the SPCA of West Quebec.
Little Scream is at the Black Sheep Inn tonight with Glenn Nuotio.
Yukon Blonde play Ritual Nightclub Saturday.
Dirty Ghosts play the Dominion Tavern Sunday.
Kyrie Kristmanson and Rolf Klausener are at the GCTC Black Box Theatre Sunday.
Eamon McGrath plays Zaphod’s Monday.
Adam Saikaley continues his experimental electronic music series at Pressed Café on Wednesday with guests Raas and C:/ Bush.