This interview was conducted in March of 2007 by Deano Sounds.
Colleen Murphy a.k.a. DJ Cosmo has been working in the music industry for a long time. She has done everything from working retail to having her own radio show on Club 89 WNYU in New York to running marketing campaigns to running her own label (Bitches Brew) to producing music to DJing. This is what she is most well known for. Colleen was gracious enough to take time out of her busy schedule to sit down with ToTheDisco to answer some of our questions.
I read that you were mentored by the legendary David Mancuso. What was the most important thing that you learned from him that you still take with you today? Can you think of any interesting stories about him when he was mentoring you? Also are there any secret DJ tips that he revealed to you that you would be willing to share with us?
First and foremost, David Mancuso is a true idealist when it comes to being a musical host (he doesn't like the term DJ). He doesn’t hold musical secrets and in fact, he always taught me to share the music. Some DJs try to hide what they are playing (some DJ's actually take off or write over the record labels). But if somebody asks myself or David what we are playing, we both actually hand over the record jacket so people can take a look. Music is for sharing. He also taught me that there is more to the party than the musical host. It starts with the people welcoming at the door, the kind of people that are attending, the decor and atmosphere of the venue, the quality of the sound system and the interaction between the crowd and the musical host. The musical host is just one part of the whole. He also reminded me to only choose songs that can stand on their own and will be a classic in their own right in the years to come.
How did Bitches Brew get started? What was the most difficult part of making your label successful? What advice would you give someone who is starting their own label in this digital age?
Having been a music lover, collector and selector since the age of 14, it seemed like starting a record label would be the next natural step. I started Bitches Brew with Nikki Lucas and we wanted the label to reflect a wide variety of our musical tastes (hence the name Bitches Brew lifted from the Miles Davis). Pretty much all aspects of running a niche label are difficult. Luckily artist relations has been pretty seamless, but distribution can be particularly difficult. One really needs to find the right distributor who will "work" their records. Now some people are starting labels that do not manufacture vinyl or CDs but are only download labels. This will probably be the way of the future but I am too much of a vinyl lover to ever succumb to that notion.
What has been your favorite release on Bitches Brew and why?
My favourite release is always the latest release as that is what is fresh in my mind. That means my favourite is Wild Rumpus - "Musical Blaze-Up" which is a project involving myself and guitarist Gary Lucas (Captain Beefheart / Jeff Buckley) and also features MC Brother Culture (Manasseh Hi-Fi) and bassist Black Steel (Mad Professor / KLF). It blends dub, bluegrass and electronica – a real mishmash.
Where do you think the future of dance music is headed? Will we see a more unified cross-genre dance community or more and more disparate scenes.
I hope the days of segregated scenes is over. I truly believe we are headed into a more eclectic direction - just like the way it started. At least that is what I notice as that is how I play and people seem to respond.
In your mind what has been the best club night in London for the last few years?
Without a doubt, our Lucky Cloud Loft Parties. We host four parties a year with David Mancuso and we have bought our own sound system which is definitely without a doubt the best sound system being used for parties in London right now. We have a spectacular team, wonderful food and decor and a great, positive crowd.
You've been in this business for nearly two decades. How have you managed to stay on top and still be true to your ideals?
I'm not sure I'm on top, but if you do stay true to your ideals you will always at least be happy with yourself and that is always the first person you have to answer to. Anybody that has truly made a mark in any business has done so by being true to themselves.
What advice would you give a young budding DJ on how to be successful?
Make sure you really want to do this and if you do, stay true and focused. There are many hardships along the way and they weed out the weak. The ones who last are the ones who persist. Good luck!