MUSIC BOX: Musicfest Fixes for All

By on September 6, 2017

Deltron 3030

Another killer line-up descends upon the Hole thanks to the folks at Contour Music Festival.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Curating a music festival lineup is akin to catch and release fishing. Offers are made based on available artists (fish) and a number of moving parts—availability, interest level, mentality towards the amount of the offer and other artists involved in said event—all of which contribute to what artists are “landed.” This molds the festival into a vibe each year, and for the aptly named Contour Music Festival, now in its third year, being flexible also means recognizing emerging commonalities and how all of the pieces fit together.

For this weekend’s Fall Showcase, dance music and DJs will be the catch. Hip-hop super group Deltron 3030—comprised of rapper Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, producer/remixer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura, and turntablist Kid Koala— will represent the live band element as the trio will be backed by drummer Alex Swain, bassist Juan Alderete, and guitarist Taka Tozawa. Friday will be a straight up DJ dance party with exotic flavor.

“It really just happened organically,” explained co-organizer Jeff Stein. “Things lined up perfectly for Deltron to come back with the idea of having Kid Koala do a late night set, which is a double whammy and really anchored the weekend. Since Saturday’s set up as the hip-hop, turntablism, electronica night, we decided to go after some more live stuff for Friday. Just unfortunately none of those acts lined up, so we said ‘alright’ let’s go with a different kind of dance party. So Friday is sort of like globally inspired electronica, including an amazing mix of dancehall tracks, which are becoming more popular right now. [For instance] they’ll play Cumbia, then stuff from South Africa while mixing in more dance floor friendly beats.”

Digging into scratch DJ, producer and graphic novelist Kid Koala’s multifaceted career, it’s fascinating to grasp his enthusiasm for stretching beyond his turntablist roots. Born Eric San, the Chinese-Canadian was a classically trained pianist before acquiring a pair of Technics 1200s in the late ‘80s. Eventually, San landed a record deal with Ninja Tune, a label run by his heroes, the U.K. experimental hip-hop duo Coldcut.

An innovator in his field, San uses the turntable in uncommon ways, often using carefully selected samples on homemade, custom vinyl to tell a story. (Yes, he’s got a record cutter in his studio). San is also an illustrator and graphic novelist, and released a 350-page book Nufonia Must Fall accompanied by a soundtrack that he composed on piano. His second album, “Some of My Best Friends are DJs”, came with a fifty-page comic book and mini chess game. The album was supported by a cabaret-style tour featuring three DJs on eight turntables, a bingo game, and other quirky surprises. He also took an excessive six turntables while touring with the former rhythm section of Grammy Award-winning Australian rock band Wolfmother. That’s just a snapshot into the storied career of a guy that is still wowed by his instrument.

“What’s fun about turntables to me is that it’s a bit of a chameleon of an instrument,” San said from his home in Montreal. “It can shape shift, it can be subtle or nuanced or harmonic and emotive, but it can also be funky and loud and aggressive and confident when you need it and exciting on that level. To explore the range of it is what I love about the instrument. I like the danger of it, the skipping, the crackle.”

“So depending on the project…when it’s Deltron mode I put on my hip-hop hat, my sci-fi hat. The way Dan will direct us in the studio he’ll say ‘OK, imagine a Mad Max-type barren landscape and we need a scratch that kind of sounds like a sandboarder skidding over the dunes.’ But also Del, his lyrics are already so evocative and so visual. It’s really like a sci-fi universe and my roll is to augment that feeling via the turntables.”

Kid Koala

Along with the Deltron live band set, Kid Koala solo, and DJ Pharell Williams on Saturday at the Pink Garter Theatre ($40-$50), other DJ acts include up-and-coming local spinners Mustang and SK, Argentina-born San Francisco-based El Papachango, and Montreal’s Sweet Anomaly, the latter four scheduled for Friday at Town Square Tavern ($15). A “Deltron Pre-Funk” party with additional TBA DJs is set for 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Asymbol Gallery (free).

Contour will again feature a Jackson Hole Stillworks Vinyl Brunch at 1 p.m. Sunday at Lotus Café (free), offering vinyl of all genres for sale. Calgary’s Lorne B and Jackson’s own Cut La Whut will be the soundtrack tune selectors.

For a full lineup and ticket information, visit PJH

Aaron Davis is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, audio engineer at Three Hearted Studio, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan Tour.

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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