By Danae Reid
In continuation of the conversation series I’ve been doing since the COVID-19 quarantine began, this week’s Q&A is with popular Philly DJ, Cosmo Baker. Baker is much more than a DJ — he’s an entity. His love for DJing was birthed out of the culturally rich hip-hop scene that Philadelphia has always been known for, and he has spent the bulk of his life honing his craft.
SUN: Tell us a little about you
Cosmo Baker: Well it’s been a very long road for me until here – 2020 marks my 30th year as a DJ! But being a Philly native, I was always aware of our contribution to Hip-Hop since I was a kid, in particular how Philly DJs really stood apart from anyone who was doing it globally at that time. So even back in elementary school I became known as the “kid with all the music” and would end up making compilations for my friends, for house parties and more. Before you knew it, I was just a teenager and I was actually spinning in nightclubs downtown – the bouncers and promoters would have to sneak me in the back door! What was once an obsession, ended up becoming a hobby and that very quickly became a career that has brought me around the world and has been very lucrative, and most importantly, fun!
SUN: Aside from DJing, it seems like you also have your hands in other pots as well, like a true businessman! Tell me a little bit more about your other interests and how they have/have not been affected by the virus.
Cosmo Baker: Being a DJ is a tremendously hard job, so you have to really master every aspect of running yourself as a business. It requires multiple skill sets that are outside of the musical aspect, from marketing, brand development, creative direction, and on and on. Now that the live aspect of the DJ industry has been put on indefinite pause, it’s allowing me to focus on some of my other endeavors. Unfortunately, a lot of my work is centered in the “event” space, so that’s off the table, but very quickly we’re all learning how to pivot and bring these ideas to people virtually. So, these days I’m teaching classes to kids who are being homeschooled, doing webinars for lots of corporations and organizations, and through all of this we’re all just trying to navigate through this new reality. In fact, me and a business partner were in midst of launching a new business that is in the health and fitness world, and we’ve had to completely retool a large part of our model due to the pandemic. But in doing so, we feel as though the adjustments that we’ve made due to current conditions have made our idea of the business even stronger. Perhaps a blessing in disguise!
SUN: Being a DJ and social distancing don’t typically go hand in hand, but you’ve managed to still find a way to connect with the people through your IG live dance sessions. In what you call, The Remedy, a dance party which you host every Monday at 7, you spend however long, playing tunes for your following. What brought about the idea to broadcast live from your home?
Cosmo Baker: Like I said, we’re all getting used to this new reality and one of those things is us [needing] to feel connected to one another. That’s the main reason why I started doing these online “parties” in the first place, because I was alone in my house and wanted to connect with the outside world. I have had experience with streaming online in the past so it was very easy for me to get it up and running. When I did my first episode, it was catharsis for me to play music that I love for people to enjoy, so it was almost out of a sense of self-preservation to combat my own loneliness and desperation. When I looked at the numbers the next day, I saw that people had tuned in from Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand, UAE, all throughout Europe – including Italy and this was right at the height of their peak – Brazil, Chile and all throughout North America. So to see how much it resonated with people, I knew that not only was I onto something but that it was something special. This was before D-Nice went viral but that definitely helped bring exposure to this as a form of entertainment. And I did a party back in the 90s in Philly with my friends Rich Medina and Rahnon, which took place every Monday night. With this online party I decided to bring it back as “The Remedy” not only because I have an established brand there, but the name “The Remedy” is particularly fitting for these strange times.
SUN: Why is your IG live titled the dance party? Is this something you would consider continuing after we’re able to resume our lives in public.
Cosmo Baker: I absolutely will consider continuing to do this after we all get back to “normal” although I don’t know how long that will be for us, especially for the industry that is centered in mass congregation. It will take a lot of time for the nightlife industry to gain back the confidence of the consumers. But also, this is a really wonderful alternative for people so I think it is here to stay. A lot of people who used to come out to my parties 20 years ago are now older, maybe they have kids, work long hours, whatever the case may be. It’s great to have something that is accessible for people who want to be entertained but don’t feel like leaving the house sometimes. I know I feel that way! But regardless of what happens, this new form of entertainment is not only here to stay but it’s really going to revolutionize everything that follows.
SUN: I’d imagine that you’re most used to DJing live parties where you can feel the vibe from the crowd much easier than say through the means of technology. How easy, or difficult is it for you totake your fans likes interest into consideration so that you’re always keeping them engaged?
Cosmo Baker: That is a great question, and to be quite honest this has been such a liberating experience for me creativity wise. Now I’m lucky, because for the most part the people who follow me know that they’re getting a very specific experience from me, so that allows me to kind of do what I want. But now with this type of experience I can really be creative and play outside of the box because of the intimate nature of it. I’m literally inviting people into my own home and so that really allows itself to be a completely different kind of experience.
SUN: I’m assuming you are the life of the party whenever you go out… How has it been for you now that you’ve been forced to confine your talents to your home?
Cosmo Baker: I’m actually very much a homebody! It’s just me and my dog Bootsy. But yes, while this journey has been strange, difficult and depressing, it’s also allowed me to take things slower and reconnect with myself in a very profound way. This slowdown has a pace to it that is affecting many people that way — in a very positive manner. I hope we can all take some good lessons away from this!
SUN: Where can we find you?
Cosmo Baker: Best places are Instagram and Facebook – that’s @cosmobaker and facebook.com/cosmobaker
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, The Philadelphia Sunday SUN, the author’s organization, committee or other group or individual.