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Kid Color paints stage at Lolla
Perry’s stage at Lollapalooza in Grant Park was already a sight to see with jumbo screens that projected psychedelic visuals flanking either side of it and one that stretched across the platform. But Chicago’s Kid Color made it even more vivid, delivering jivey disco jams at his 12:30 p.m. set on Aug. 5.
Kid Color—also known as Kyle Woods, 24—moved to Chicago, equipped with DJ equipment, from Newport Beach, Calif., five years ago to study music business at Columbia. Inspired by other Chicago acts like Kid Sister and Flosstradamus, he set out to create his own name for himself in the DJ scene. Now the assistant music director at nightclub Smart Bar, 3730 N. Clark St., Kid Color chatted with The Chronicle about his DJ experience, how his career has transformed from dorm room to Lollapalooza and how Columbia helped him get to where he is today.
The Chronicle: So how was your first Lollapalooza experience?
Kid Color: It was awesome. It was definitely the biggest stage I’ve ever performed on. Perry’s is like a spaceship. It was great; I really had a lot of fun. I played really early in the day, but I really promoted it hard, and people came out for it, which was awesome to see. It was cool, I just did my thing, brought the whole house and disco-ish vibe and people dug it.
And the set went well?
It was great, super fun. It [was] one of those moments where it’s all eyes on you, but honestly, as soon as I started, I just got in that bedroom mentality, that mindset that you’re just performing for a couple of friends. It was fun.
How did you get into the disco-dance genre?
The disco thing really evolved. When I first started DJ-ing, I wasn’t playing disco. I was playing more electro, like Justice, and I was looking at this whole sound I like, and Justice sampled a lot of disco stuff. A lot of disco mentality was coming into play then, not only [in terms of] artists that I liked, but [also with] my own feelings. And I was like, “Man, I should really start trying to pursue this kind of sound.” I think that started to turn around in 2009 or 2010. Around that brink, that’s when I started going more for my own thing with disco.
What did you think of Justice’s set at Lolla?
Loved it. I thought it was a great mixture of their older and newer stuff. I really love their newer stuff because they kind of went for a rock sound, but it was definitely what I wasn’t expecting, but sometimes that’s what I like.
Other than Justice, do you have any other primary inspirations?
I gotta give credit to LCD Soundsystem… They don’t make disco music, but when they first started doing DJ sets, it was like all disco. I remember being like, “Wow, that’s really cool. This band that does dance-rock with even some techno vibes in some songs is doing this.” I think that was a big influence as well.
What kind of stuff did you listen to as a kid?
I realized recently that in my subconscious there was this ’90s dance thing. My first cassette tape was Ace of Base. I had the “Jock Jams” stuff. I remember I had CDs Party City would sell [that weren’t] even sang by the real band. I had tons of those CDs. But my first album[s] as a kid were Hanson and Third Eye Blind. So I definitely balanced the rock stuff with it.
How’d you get hooked up with SmartBar?
I had my first gig there when I was 20 years old. It was a last-minute booking because someone had to back out, and they called me up because I knew one of the guys who was also DJ-ing that night. Then once I turned 21, I played there another time, and there was a change in the music directors. So when that was happening, I was looking for a job, and I emailed the new talent buyer and said, ”Hey, I understand you’re new to the position, and I’m looking for a job, an internship, if you need it.” So I actually work there currently as the assistant music director. And that kind of helped me get my Sunday weekly residency called Dollar Disco. That ran for about two years. But we ended that in April.
What was challenging about breaking into a scene where a lot of musicians are trying to do the same thing as you do?
I really kind of lucked out. Before I moved here, I reached out to this DJ collective called Dark Wave Disco, and they were really on the electro tip. They brought out Justice and all these guys before they were big. So I reached out to them via MySpace message asking about 18-and-over shows and what the scene [was] like because I wasn’t 21 before I moved here. So that conversation ultimately led to me becoming an intern for them. [Because of that] I was able to go to all of the nightclubs when I was still 19. So I got to meet a lot of people, and I was able to balance the college life and the night life. Eventually Dark Wave Disco started letting me open their nights from 9-10, and from there, people would see me a little bit. It just sort of grew and grew. I mean, it was difficult. It took a long time, and my internship did involve me handing out flyers at like 2 in the morning.
Sounds like you hit the ground running when you got here.
Yeah, that’s kind of what I wanted though. When I first visited Chicago, I knew that I liked it, but it was the second time when I just fell in love with it. I knew that this place had something for me that I could offer back, ya know?
Definitely. Do you feel like your time spent at Columbia helped you grow in your career?
If it weren’t for Columbia, I wouldn’t have met the Flosstrodamus guys. Once [Columbia] found out I was a DJ, they started booking me for parties. I spun with Flosstradamus, I spun with Matt & Kim, and a lot of that stuff when they would bring in artists through the school. And you know it was one of these things where, even though I had to drop out [during my sophomore year], it was like, I still owed that school a lot…In the creative field it’s like, you gotta balance school and your own thing. That’s how I like to think that I got a younger following because I stayed in the whole college scene doing parties and stuff while also doing this 21-and-over nightlife.
Are there any specific college parties that you played that stick out to you?
I used to throw parties in the 2 E. 8th dorm. When I first moved in, I brought all of my DJ set with me from California, and I remember my roommates and I drew invites out and went through all of the floors and pushed them under people’s doors. And the rules were you [couldn’t] bring alcohol or any drugs because that was the only way we would get shut down in the dorm. Keep in mind those rooms are small, two-person rooms. Some of my favorite parties were there, too.
You have an EP coming out at the end of August; do you have a name for it yet?
It’s just going to be called the “Time” EP. The single is called “Time,” and the two B-sides are different version of this song called “Pineapple Club.”
So what’s Kid Color’s favorite color?
I’ve been feeling a lot of dark cranberry red. I’m all about the patterns though, too. That’s a trick question.
Catch Kid Color at North Coast Music Festival, Aug. 31-Sept. 2, and listen to his music at SoundsLikeColor.com.