Deltron 3030 is a reaction of ingredients, the result that occurs when the environment is just suited for righteousness. A passionate multi-genre producer, a DJ that doesn’t sleep without a vinyl player, and a rapper may or may not have a use for inhaling. The boys teamed up and made something out of the ordinary, a space odyssey: easily one of the most definitive records in the past two decades. You can still feel the waves of their debut release from seventeen years ago, as it was the first science-fiction hip-hop effort ever, essentially one of the first concept albums in the genre at all.
Everyone fond of modern music is at least somewhat familiar with Daniel Nakamura (Dan the Automator), Eric San (Kid Koala), and Teren Jones (Del the Funky Homosapien). With samples of classical French compositions, poetic expositions of a dystopian future, and enough dialogue to make Tarantino frolic in a field of daffodils, the group has risen the ranks of hip-hop. Their show at Somos Music Festival in September officially concluded the group's Event 2 campaign, and are now heading back to the studio to finish a currently untitled 3rd installment of the space opera.
I loitered around eloquently enough to snag Q&A's with Koala and Automator as they detailed their work ethics, current plans, and upcoming projects.
DL: How was the crowd from your end?
Koala: They were live man! Wide open. I was worried cause it was raining earlier, I didn’t know people would show up.
Automator: Yeah it was nice. Back in Albuquerque, good crowd.
DL: I saw you guys just down the street at Sunshine, back in 2014. What’s the touring been since then?
Koala: This is the tail end of, like, a three-year-long campaign for Event II. This was the last show before we go into the studio again.
Automator: This one, in particular, was more of a one-off.
Koala: Yeah, it’s been good though.
DL: [Koala,] You’ve been a driving force in the scene since the ‘90s. In terms of DJing and scratching, your place is so integral to the genre.
Koala: Is it? Haha thanks.
DL: Where do you see yourself in hip-hop?
Koala: I’ve always seen myself more of an outsider. I mean, it wasn’t the mainstream that caught my ear. It was stuff like Public Enemy and everything that wasn’t on the radio. I just kind of... got really inspired by that I think. Because that doesn’t change. The idea of trying to just keep pushing it and doing what you haven’t heard yet. So, I’ll keep doing it as long as my hands work.
Automator: Yes and, well, no… but yes. That wasn’t purposely the goal. I just like music really, and I make that kind of music. I hope they’re empowered! I actually do a lot of like, production for other bands and stuff. There’s a lot of that rock and alt. rock – I like it more a little bit groovy and sweeter. I make my own records like that because of the people on them, they’re really talented.
DL: You’ve been adding your touch on a wide range of albums for decades, and the latest was on a metal album with Exodus?
Automator: I only did the intro stuff for it. Gary Holt is a friend of mine and he plays guitar on some stuff for me here and there. We thought it’d be fun to do, and it’s all bay area. So we did it.
DL: Kind of fresh to not do hip hop?
Automator: The thing is, I don’t do a whole lot of hip-hop records really. I love hip hop, I just don’t do it a lot. I’m not consciously doing it or consciously not doing it. I’m just doing music, you know? I do records I want to do. I don’t hang out in LA or NY, so I’m not in that circuit super hard – and if some people want to do it, I’ll do it. But if a great hip-hop or rock or whatever record comes up. I’ll do it. That’s really what it is.
DL: And you have that foothold. Your style is so versatile in that sense you can be like, “We can make this folk record now.”
Automator: Exactly. It’s funny, most of my hit stuff, even my hip-hop records, they’re not rap records. There’s a lot of English rock, especially, but it’s not because I don’t want to, or want to do this. It is what it is. Like, “this is cool, and I want to do this.” I don’t even mean that in a first comes first serves kind of way.
DL: Kid Koala, in terms of scratching, do you have a preference between vinyl and electronic?
Koala: I like vinyl cause it’s more fun for me. It’s dangerous, it skips, it warps, and I gotta recover you know? It keeps me on my toes.
DL: It’s more genuine.
Koala: Well no, not that. There’s just not really a safety net. I just like that feeling better if I’m playing live. Otherwise, I could just start phoning it in. Even just now, [the guitarist], since we’re on a rubber stage, he’s stomping his foot and it was skipping my beats and I’m like “mother-fff!” but then there’s that jolt of adrenaline like, “shit, I gotta recover before the next chorus!” I like it. And there's a sonic component too like I actually have a record cutter in my studio to spin with. Yeah, I like vinyl.
DL: Any upcoming Deltron stuff?
Automator: There’s one in the works! Halfway there. Couple songs are already done. There’s a video game called Battleborn and one of the new Deltron tracks is on there.
Koala: Not sure what to call it though. That’s up to Del. Music is there though.
DL: And solo material?
Koala: I’m working on a video game soundtrack right now. It’s like a breakbeat kind of hip-hop type of game called Floor Kids. Comes out in December on the [Nintendo] Switch. Oh and check out Baby Driver! Blu Ray or DVD or whatever. I did the beats that Baby makes in the movie.
Automator: New Dr. Octagonacologist coming up next year. It’s done, not mastered yet but everything else is done.
DL: This may be a stretch but… any new Handsome Boy Modeling School in the future?
Dan only answered that question by laughing and nodding, to which I replied with a fervent "yo!" and "dude!" and "hell yes!"
With the number of projects both of these artists have released over the years, it feels wrong to just plug one over the other. For more information on Dan the Automator, click here. For Kid Koala, click here.
Audrin Baghaie is the music editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com