Cosmo Baker is a producer and DJ based in NYC. He recently shared the decks with our friend DJ Day at his weekly hell-raiser ¡Reunión! at Ace Hotel Palm Springs. Cosmo’s playing tonight in New York at Switchboard. Next month and months thereafter it will be at Ace NYC, but for this month it’s happening at Tammany Hall.
Cosmo’s been a champion of New Jack Swing, obscure, special and rad music for a long ass time. He talked with us about some of his projects past and present, and a banana he met this morning.
I heard you have a CD buried in a time capsule in Hawaii. Do tell…
Several years ago me and a buddy Scott Melker did a CD called “Live At The Spotlite” which was the labor of love homage to one of our favorite music genres, New Jack Swing. All that late 80s and early 90s stuff that sounds so dated yet at the same time is still incredible music, production values and songwriting. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure of mine and my knowledge of it runs pretty deep. This was back when it was still possible to sell physical product in healthy numbers as opposed to just putting things up online for download. So the reception for the CD was pretty fantastic, shipping around the globe. I know that we had some on sale in retail outlets out there on the islands, but as to how it got in someone’s hands and why they decided it was appropriate to put in a time capsule I will never know. But it’s pretty cool if you think about it, and when they open it up who knows when in the future, you’ll have an artifact that will represent two separate periods of time. Now whether or not they will actually have CD players in the future is another question.
What’s your history in Hawaii — do you have family there?
I’ve only been to Hawaii once, spending a few days on Kauai with some friends of mine. No question that once you’re out there, you feel the magic and the pull of that place. It’s a very powerful spot on this planet. And I was totally fine with just sitting in a hammock on the beach, beer in hand, doing nothing for 5 days straight. Life sucks!
Tell me about The Rub.
The Rub is a Brooklyn based DJ collective that consists of myself, DJ Ayres and DJ Eleven. We’ve been friends for years and Ayres started the party at Southpaw in Brooklyn in 2002 and I came up and did a few guest spots during the first year. Then in 2003 I moved to Brooklyn, at which point the three of us guys decided to solidify the partnership and we’ve been rocking ever since. We’ve taken the show all around the globe but always continue to rock the first Saturday of every month back in Brooklyn. Musically it’s incredibly diverse and also gives us a place to really open up artistically as DJs, and over the years the crowd that we’ve cultivated definitely have learned that it’s a completely different and unique thing from your standard club night in NY. And we’re stronger than ever, and I’m super grateful that we kind of captured lightning in a bottle with this.
Switchboard is based around the idea of “telephoning music” — the transportation that occurs when an artist interprets a piece of music. What do you have planned and what’s inspiring you as you get ready for the party?
I totally trust Sammy when it comes to his ear and artistic vision so when he approached me to do this I jumped at the chance. In my very humble opinion, the thing about art, or the creative process in general to me is that it’s a deeply personal thing. You put all this energy from your soul into creating something. It belongs to you and only you. But once you release it and let it out in the world, you relinquish ownership of it in a sense, and it ends up belonging to everyone else except you. So when a song is created, and when someone covers it or remixes it, it’s kind of like this cycle that continues on and on. Even as a DJ, the way one manipulates and edits the sounds, using layering or other techniques, you’re doing your own interpretation of prerecorded music. As for how I’m prepping, I’m just trying to pull some really fun, cool groovy shit that people will dig!
What project are you most excited about at the moment?
All the production that I’m working on and collaborating with others for a side project called Sheen Brothers, which is me and my homie 4th Pyramid. We’re looking a a few releases this year for that and I’m very excited about the initial response that we’ve been getting. Other than that, I’m writing a lot, and I’m traveling a hell of a lot. That’s tiring, but it’s still very exciting.
What’d you do this morning?
The first thing was drink some coffee. Then worked on the 4th Pyramid project that he’s putting out for SXSW. Then I ate a banana.
Favorite music right now?
Two things that come to mind — The Miracles Club which is a house music group out of Portland, and Frank Ocean who is an R&B singer from Los Angeles via Atlanta. Both of them are really fucking amazing. But there’s always so much music out there, both new and old, that inspire me. Every month I do a Monthly Top Ten Mix with some of my most favorite music at that moment. It’s kind of across the board but really representative of where I’m at in my head. But I don’t know, I just love music so fucking much it’s insane. I don’t know what i would do without it!
Photo by Kenny Rodriquez