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Interview: Cousin Cole

Cousin Cole has been a Lab staple for years. His past collaborations with Pocketknife under the name Tambourine Dream have classic written all over them and his recent solo work can be heard all over the world from BBC Radio to Tim Sweeney’s Beats In Space. Cole also was one of our winners in our last Legitmix Remix Contest (sign up for the ongoing contest here) and having DJed with him a few times it is safe to say dude just knows what he is doing. We had Cousin Cole on Turntable Lab Radio last month and now we follow up below.

Turntable Lab Radio 025: Cousin Cole

Tell us a little bit about your background as a DJ / Producer.

I started producing in about 2000, making rap beats. Some of those became the soundtrack to my brother’s movie Just To Get A Rep

I had been DJing since 98, but just house parties until my first bootleg record came out, and I started to take it more seriously. I had to get Serato just so I could play my own shit. I remember one time before that just playing some off a discman hahahaha.

Your remixes have been blowing up the internet lately and you definitely don’t do flavor of the month picks. What is your process and thoughts behind those?

Basically anything that I mess fits two conditions: I like it to begin with and I see something I can do with it. Sometimes it feels like the song is trying to be something else, and I just try and help it get there. On that Rihanna “Nobody’s Business” edit, I just brought out the 90s house vibe I felt was latent in the song. Other stuff I like so much that I just listen for what I could bring to it.

But I do feel like some of the stuff that’s really blown up has been the more flavor of the month stuff, which is kinda unfortunate but what are you gonna do? The way music on the internet works right now, thanks to hype machine, and to a lesser extent soundcloud, the bigger the name the more people will give it that initial listen. And then mashups get exponentially more exposure — DJ Whoever’s Drake vs Lana Del Rey or whatever will come up for everyone searching for Drake plus everyone searching for Lana. And BTW there is nothing easier than putting rap vocals over an instrumental… MAKE A EFFORT!

What does your studio look like these days? Any secret weapons we should know about?

My studio is basically just my computer and a little midi keyboard. I can’t really play but it’s nice to get more of a natural feel versus drawing shit onto the piano roll. And a few months ago my girl gave me the Arturia Microbrute, which is an awesome new analog synth with a lot of flexibility.

We have had this discussion before but let’s expand on it a bit. Your remixes, personal taste, and soundcloud reflect who you are but there isn’t a very linear path in your selections. Do you feel this hurts or helps when someone is checking your music out?

Honestly, I think it probably hurts me in some ways… I know for me, there is so much music out there and so little time to go through it all that I tend to jump to conclusions based on the first thing or two I hear from someone. So I expect everyone else to do the same thing with me. Someone who’s into baltimore club isn’t necessarily going to be a Bruce Springsteen fan, so if they hear that first they might write me off.

It seems like “cool music” is becoming more stratified lately (and ”open format” is almost just a euphemism for Top 40) in contrast to a few years ago when eclecticism was seen as a virtue in itself. There’s nothing wrong with diving super deep into one thing, but I’m curious if we’ll see a return to djing that crosses a bunch of types of music.

Turntable Lab Radio 025: Cousin Cole

DJing around New York for sometime now, how do you feel things have changed in the recent years?

No one requests freestyle any more.

In your episode of Lab Radio we got a sneak peak at some upcoming releases. Can we expect a new project soon?

Yeah I’m working on it! I’ve got a ton of almost-done tracks I’m trying to finalize, including some of the stuff from the mix. Some of that stuff will probably come out under a new name though!

More immediately, I’ve got a remix for Congo Tardis ft. Sam G coming soon on Gold Whistle, my Manicured Noise remix is finally getting a vinyl release, Nacey & I are finishing up a followup to our Misun Summer Bootlegs series from last year, and Phi Unit and I are working on So Emotional 3.

Top 5 DJ records currently

1) Bok Bok – Da Foxtrot, His new stuff is so dope to me

2) Beek – Like This Like That, And if you’re feeling it y’all should support him here:

3) DJ Youngin – Too Much Remix, One of the MANY lesser known but still super dope Jersey Club producers.

4) Detroit Swindle – 64 Ways Feat. Mayer Hawthorne (Kerri ‘Kaoz’ Chandler Vocal Remix)

5) Popcaan – The System, Produced by Dre Skull. Nothing gets me more hype.

Top 5 listening records currently

1) Sananda Maitreya – Ornella Or Nothing, This is Terrence Trent D’Arby’s new name & man it’s a great song.

2) Alice Smith – Another Love, Because I’m depressed hahaha.

3) Jerome Lol – Always ft. Sara Z, <3 4) Womack & Womack – New York City, Best band of the 80s. Plus… NEW YORK IS STILL NUMBER ONE!

5) K. Michelle – VSOP, I played this at midnight on NYE and no one was feeling it but me hahhahahha.

Top 5 tracks you produced

Really I’m more psyched about all this unreleased stuff I’m finishing but…
1) Blunted Dummies – House For All (Cousin Cole Remix)

2) Amen Amen

3) Manicured Noise – Metronome (Cousin Cole Remix)

4) James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream (Cousin Cole Alternate Version)

5) Bam A Lam (Black Betty)
Get more Cousin Cole remixes at Legitmix

Free for all, talk about anything you want. shout outs, all that good stuff.

RIP Matt Stackswell

Turntable Lab Radio 025: Cousin Cole

Thanks to Cousin Cole for the interview and doing Lab Radio. You can listen to his episode here and keep up with him via Bookface, Soundcloud, and Twitter. Special shout out to Really Nathan for the photos and TTL NY Staff for putting up with my terrible jokes.

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