FP: How did you get into DJing?COSMO: It started with me just being a fan of music and having a “collector” mentality. I would always collect tapes and also record some of the live rap show broadcasts off the radio when I was a kid. Eventually I got to be known as the guy that “had all the new music” but also because of my upbringing I would always try to incorporate older sounds into my repertoire. This eventually lead to me recognizing rap samples from my mom’s collection so when I would hear a Sly & The Family Stone song incorporated into a rap tune I just naturally made the connection. It got to the point where I was enlisted to make mix tapes (we called them “pause tapes”) specifically for my friends when they would have house parties in high school, and I would make these custom mixes and bring my sound system. Then people would have me make custom mixes for them… And eventually I decided to take it to the next step and buy turntables. Well, I bought one turntable hahah, but that was a start. I worked after school in a grocery store to save up for my first one and then a year later I bought my second one. I kind of hit the ground running and within 2 years I was DJing in some of the bigger nightclubs in Philly. I wasn’t even 18!
FP: What’s the most enjoyable aspect of being a DJ?COSMO: Well honestly I’m naturally kinda shy and antisocial so being a DJ gave me an opportunity to attend parties and be around people but also to be in my own bubble! But I definitely outgrew that hahah… But as of now I would say probably exposing people to new music is pretty enjoyable. Also, knowing that you are playing a role in people’s lives in a passive sense when you’re creating the soundtrack to some great experiences. That’s so amazing to me!
FP: With as much as you’ve experienced as a DJ so far, what would be the ultimate gig? Crowd size, venue, etc?COSMO: I’ve spun some amazing events and venues with some huge crowds, but also there’s something to be said about intimacy. Like one of my best Dj experiences was last November in Toronto after the Red Bull Thre3Style where me and Skratch Bastid and Flipout locked ourselves in a dark hotel room with about 60 people and played 45s all night – it was a transcendent experience! So it’s not really about the space or the size, it really is about the vibe. That said, I’d love to play in a sunny field on top of a mountain with about 500 of my closest friends. That’s kinda tops at this moment!
FP: What advice do you give a young teenage boy or girl that says “I want to be like you when I grow up”?COSMO: Be yourself and trust your instincts and know that this is a tough racket – even if you have what it takes with natural talent you still may not make it. But there’s definitely something to be said about the power of perseverance and practice A LOT! Don’t be afraid to make a mistake because you can flip that mistake into being an asset.
FP: In your opinion, what makes a GREAT DJ?COSMO: Ultimately no matter what the music you play or the technical ability you have, the most important thing is to be able to connect with the audience. You learn to work with that energy and once you have that, and built up the trust, it doesn’t matter what you play – you can play whale sounds, but your audience is going to trust you and trust that the journey that you’re gonna take them on is a worthwhile one.
FP: You are famous for your ability to rock a party by mixing different genres, but what do you listen to in your spare time? What genre of music do you enjoy the most?COSMO: Well I listen to everything! You can’t regulate that THIS is only for listening in the club and THIS is at the crib and THIS is for the car. I’ll play Debussy as much as I play Ice Cube or Boys Noize or Jackie Wilson or Joni Mitchell. The thing about making sure that you stay attuned to different things is it’s through that you’re able to draw the correlating lines between genres in your head, and then make that translation on the dance floor. I know that’s a non-answer but it’s true. However, right now I am listening to Stevie Wonder and you can’t ever go wrong with Stevie!
FP: What’s one of your favorite DJ experience?
COSMO: There’s so many for me to choose from but the first thing that I thought of (which I haven’t thought of in a long time) was when I played this giant outdoor rave in British Columbia called Shambalah – it’s kind of the Canadian version of Burning Man. We did a nighttime big dance event and then the next day there’s this daytime event called Funk Jam where all the DJs play funk and soul music it’s amazing. Towards the end of the jam, Josh and Curt from Flosstradamus showed up, having just flown in. We were in the middle of nowhere so there was no exposure to the outside world, so they were the first dudes to tell me that Isaac Hayes had passed away the night before. I was really feeling a certain way about that so Smalltown Pete got on the mic and thanked the crowd and then let them know about Isaac’s passing. Maybe some people only knew of him as the dude from South Park but we were all feeling the holy spirit at that moment. So to close the day I played Issac’s version of “Walk On By” – all 12 minutes of it, and thousands of people caught the spirit and it was a definite MOMENT.
FP: What’s your favorite project that you’ve worked on?COSMO: My favorite projects are the ones ahead of me, so on that note if I had to say a project that’s behind me I’d probably say my two most recent. Me and my man Grandtheft from Toronto came out with a record about a month ago “Find A Way” which is an original house tune and that was so much fun to work on and to push. Also, me and another one of my Canadian friends Skratch Bastid did our second version of a mix series “Songs We Listened To A Lot” which is kind of a different take on year-end wrap-up mixes. Both those were incredibly fun to work on, and the reception for both has been great.
FP: What are some projects that you’re currently working on?COSMO: I’m working on a cool “slow-house” edit series right now that’s super fun and really where my heart is musically at this point, and I’m teaming up with some of my homies from California on it, and I’m also relaunching my Baker’s Dozen mix series later on this year with a pretty big partner behind it, but most of the projects that I am most excited about aren’t even really fully involved with music – or the CosmoBaker name – to be specific. I’m opening a couple businesses in my hometown of Philly this year and I also launched another business in Brooklyn that’s really fun and creative work, and I spend most of my time working on these things these days. It’s tons of fun, and definitely the type of bigger picture stuff that my career has been moving towards for years now. So to see things beaming solidified and coming to fruition is fucking GREAT!!
FP: When it’s all said and done, what’s the legacy you want to leave behind?COSMO: I am always going to stay humble so to say “legacy” seems a little strange. I can just hope that people will think of me and say “Yeah he was a pretty solid dude” and all… If they learned something about music, or if their life was enriched in any way, then I’d be happy with that!
BUY TICKETS HERE:General admission: https://wexarts.org/tickets/1147
THIS EVENT IS 21 AND OVER.
After December 12
$50 until Feb 15
$60 Feb 16–Mar 7
Check Out The Facebook Page And Join The ConversationHERE: https://www.facebook.com/events/1417977531769848
The FlyPaper’s resident DJ on the West Coast, DJ Bern connected with one of the most popular DJ’s in the country from the East Coast, DJ Cosmo Baker. These two DJ’s vibe out and give us even more reasons to step out to the Off The Grid Event happening at the Wexner Center For The Arts this weekend. Check it out.