Eric San is no ordinary DJ. While his peers dream of euphoric crowds and killer drops, Eric is thinking up characters, creating story-lines and building plots. “I try and make little stories. Whether it’s with a pencil or with bits of records, it’s really the same thing.”
One of his latest projects, Nufonia Must Fall, is a perfect example. A story about a robot trying to impress a girl, it’s a comic book with a CD soundtrack and a mini chess set all in one. “When I was a kid, all my 7-inchers had books and pictures to go with them. So I thought it’d be fun to keep that tradition going,” ponders Eric. “If you can understand the humour in the drawing part you’ll probably get the humour in the audio part.”
His approach takes vivid imagination and geek-like dedication, not to mention a talent with the cross-fader. “Making Basin Street Blues was like doing an animated film,” he explains, referring to his turntable cut-up of Louis Armstrong’s classic number from his Some of my Best Friends are DJs album. “Every note on each instrument was found on different bits of records that had to be scratched in and bent. In the end you get music which sounds like the original but moves differently. Like when you see an animated character walking and there’s something slightly distorted about it. I like that.”
For source material Eric goes “digging in dime stores”, picking out bizarre educational and self-help monologues or “treasures” as he calls them. “I dig for those records that people are embarrassed to have, then make records documenting that they exist,” he grins. “Anthropologically speaking, it’s kind of interesting, like audio-voyeurism.”
His charms haven’t gone unnoticed either. Both Radiohead and Björk have asked him to prime their crowds. “It’s funny how making odd noises can get you into strange situations sometimes,” he says, remembering his slot at Madison Square Garden in front of 20,000 Radiohead fans.
Still, it’s obvious from his manner that success isn’t dulling his senses, and his imagination is as potent as ever. “Eventually we want to do a puppet musical with turntables in the orchestra pit.” As I said, he’s no ordinary DJ.