Locally Grown: Cousin Cole
Since entering the remix game seven years ago, New York's Cousin Cole has set blogs alight and developed a top-notch reputation internet wide. Through his clean, pulsating remixes he's been able to demonstrate his knack for rhythm and inherent ability to get to the heart and soul of a track and build upon on it. He's into pumping beats and arrangements that introduce listeners to the song in a new way. His remixes regularly land on Mad Decent's site and other taste-making havens.
Earlier this month the 33-year-old DJ released his new mix-tape EP in collaboration with Phi Unit entitled So Emotional Volume 2, which has garnered attention from MTV. The duo have also received accolades from listeners and friends who have connected to it on an emotional level, which Cole notes as being " kind of incredible." Here he talks with us about remixes, how blogs have transitioned through the years, where he'd like to go and the impact the Big Apple has on his creativity.
What drew you to remixing in the first place?
I started out working on hip hop instrumentals and weird sample-based stuff. The first remixes I did were to see how my instrumentals would work with vocals. Then when I began to focus DJing more I started working on more danceable stuff to play in my sets.
How do you select the songs that you tackle?
It's almost 100 percent based on instinct, just what hits me. It has to be something that I love, even if I just love a tiny part of it, and I have to see a way that I could fuck with it to add something. I'm not so egotistical that I think my remixes always improve on the original songs, but you have to at least go into it with that goal in mind. In my opinion a remix has to justify itself — why am I going to play this instead of the original version? Novelty alone is not enough of a justification.
How integral to your career have blogs been?
A couple of the first things I did where I was messing with pop songs instead of just hip hop were picked up by Fluxblog, which was not only a huge blog at the time, but also one where I really respected the taste of the writer, Matthew Perpetua. Discobelle also posted a lot of my early stuff, and they actually brought me over for my first European tour.
Let's talk blog hype — there definitely seemed to be a heyday in 2006-2008. How would you describe it? How would you describe the current role and popularity of blogs?
I still check a few blogs, but I think Hype Machine has kind of screwed up that whole process. Instead of discovering new music from someone whose taste they trust, people now seem to just go on HM and search for artists they already know about.
What role does living in NY play in your life and music?
New York City is a great place to live in terms of going out and seeing amazing music, but the flip side of that is that it's harder here to make money from your music — there is just so much great shit every night. But I absolutely love it here. It's the most diverse place on the planet, so you can be exposed to all types of new stuff. And the winters are pretty rough, which is a good motivator for staying in and working on songs.
Where would you like to go with your production skills?
I've been working on original songs for a LONG time now, but I'm just now starting to look into releasing them. One example would be this song tentatively titled "I Need You" that leads off the Modcast mix I did a few months ago. Snippet here.