Montreal's Kid Koala (aka Eric San) is known both as an innovative turntablist and skilled visual artist, and he's combined those two loves in his "Music to Draw to..." series of events. The concept is pretty unique: attendees are encouraged to bring their own artistic projects to the shows, which they work on while San spins "quiet time" records and his wife serves hot chocolate and baked goods. It's an idea that both challenges expectations about what a "concert experience" should be and highlights the important role that music plays in artistic and cultural life. From the sound of it, it's also highly conducive to getting a whole lot of creative work done.
How did the idea for "Music to Draw to" shows come about?
It started in the winter time in Montreal (where it's -30 degrees Celsius) We really wanted to do a low-key event that would bring people out of hibernation or their self-imposed studio cells. There are a lot of creative people in Montreal that don't leave their houses for all of January to March. Also, my wife Corinne hopes to open a bakery in the city one day... she gets to try out her new recipes at her bake sale which we set up so people can go get a snack if they need a break from working.
How have the recent "Music to Draw to" shows been going? Have you seen any of the projects people have been working on during the sets?
The nights have been going really well. It started as primarily a drawing and painting event... but any of the other quiet time arts qualify. Some people bring clay to sculpt, other people will bring laptops and do a bunch of 3D rendering of character designs (there are a lot of game developers in Montreal), animators will bring light tables, the list goes on... At the New York "Music to Draw to..." someone actually brought a dress form and was designing and sewing clothes. When we brought the soiree to Los Angeles, some people showed up and started chiseling things out of wood and sandstone. Someone at the Toronto "Music to Draw to..." actually brought a loom and was making this crazy tapestry!
What makes a good "quiet time" record?
Usually it's a record that you can put on repeat and not notice the time passing. Those are usually the best records for working or getting in that zone.
Are there records that you've found are too quiet even for "quiet time"? Are there any records you've played at one of these shows that turn out to be too loud or distracting?
I've actually test driven most of the music I bring to these events. They are actually records that I work to myself when I'm in the studio drawing or writing storyboards. Most of them are too slow to be played at a club or concert.
Do you think the music a person listens to while being creative has an impact on their creative output? What kind of music do you like to listen to when you're working on something?
I almost always listen to music when I'm working on visual stuff in the studio. Also, when I record music, I usually have a narrative or a visual in my mind. So the two kind of inform each other. Music always helps me focus. There's definitely a rhythm to drawing and writing... especially when I'm working well.
Finally, any advice for people coming to the "Music to Draw to" show in San Francisco? What should they bring to the show?
They should bring whatever they're inspired to work on so long as it doesn't distract the other people. It's very much an "antisocial social" event. After the New York "Music to Draw to..." someone said to me "Hey I filled 3 sketchbooks in 4 hours, I haven't done that in 10 years!" That was cool. That person obviously got in a zone of some sort and cranked on it. It's much different from deejaying to a dance floor. It's as if the quieter people are, the more focused they are on their work. There'll be moments when the place is packed and no one will be saying a word because they're all deep into their zones. It's really quite an amazing thing to see.
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