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Interview: Cozzy D

Cozzy D tells us how to do it all!

Cozzy D, real name Costas Demou, is a leading light of the London underground electronic music scene. Rising up from where many artists have received their early musical influence, a little independent record shop, to someone who has produced, DJ'd, owned his own label and run a successful Sunday party. This is a man with fingers in several really tasty pies.

So, with a new EP out titled 'Mythical Mysteries', it seemed only right to catch up with the Lower East co-owner and Creche co-promoter to find how he got to be in such a great position in his life... maybe we could all learn something.

Last year was a good year for you, how's it feel coming in to 2012?

2011 was a great year. It was nice to see the organic progression and rise of my label ‘Lower East' as well as seeing the rapid growth of my party Crèche. I was eagerly anticipating 2012, especially the end of January which would see the release of my ‘Mythical Mystery EP' on Lower East. The early feedback had been pretty impressive, so I was very much looking forward to its release.

You released several collaborations over 2011, what was that like?

I always enjoy working with other artists, and am truly blessed to know some very talented people. In doing so, I find, broadens your musical horizons and you maybe try different methods or styles that you usually wouldn't. It's always a learning curve and it's exciting to hear the end result. Last year I worked with the likes of Dzeta N Basile, Eric Volta, Michael Jansons, Dodha as well as my Lower East compadres Lee Brinx + Dexter Kane. Working with each one of these guys was a different experience, which I feel has benefited me as a producer and inspired me.

Do you find it easy working with other artists to create a track you love?

Well, I think you need to have some common ground to start with. When working with those guys mentioned above, in order for us both to be feeling the music, we had to adapt our personal tastes a little in order to blend our sounds together.

With Eric Volta & Michael Jansons for example, we both share the love for deep & melodic sounds, where as with Lee Brinx, we both share the love of the Garage era of the late 90's as that's where our roots lie. I myself have quite an eclectic array of influences so enjoy adapting my sound to create different tracks.

How does it come about you working with other artists on tracks?

Usually after a drunken chat at some afterparty somewhere haha, but in all seriousness, I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for the artists I have worked with in the past. It's quite funny when you think about it, but spending so much time in the studio with someone, brings you very close as friends also.

What's the underground scene like in London, still going strong? What is there to be excited about this year and beyond do you think?

I personally think that right now, the underground scene in London is thriving again. It's been great playing at parties and seeing smiley faces and experiencing hands in the air moments again. I think during the mid- late ‘Noughties' period, the music lacked soul, and also that ‘WOW' factor. Now it's been great to see tracks getting big reactions again.

Taking a look at your forthcoming gigs I see plans have been made for the Summer already. What will those ‘warm' summer months have in store for you?

We're in the process of planning some BIG things with Crèche. We kick start the summer with our May 6th Outdoor Bank Holiday Special with Maceo Plex + Art Department, then we're looking forward to ending the Summer on a high, taking Crèche to the Dominican Republic as part of the Groovefest Festival alongside the likes of Hot Natured, Defected, Krankbrothers + much more.

In between, over the summer months, we're in the process of planning some amazing parties, both in the UK & Ibiza, which you will have to keep a look for. And on a personal note, I'm looking forward to tours of North America, Brazil & Colombia.

Your music, whilst still having its roots in house and techno, has a certain groove and soul feel to it, what has influenced this style?

I started DJing and collecting vinyl in 1998 and back when the Underground Garage sound, swept through London. I was instantly hooked by the 4x4 groove and rolling basslines, but it was adding the vocal hook that made the track stand out and memorable for me. I guess I have always tried to incorporate those elements in my tracks.

In 2000 I got a job working for an Independent Record Store in North London, called Loppylugs. As well as selling a wide selection of UK Garage and Hip-Hop 12''s, it was there, where I was introduced to a broad spectrum of House, Techno & even Trance Music. Once the 4x4 Garage sound phased out and 2 Step & tracks with MCing became more the sound of the times, I lost interest and became more into House Music, especially the deep & techy variety. Working in a Record Shop, meant I would often receive Test Presses of unreleased tracks, bit like getting promo downloads these days. I would always like to record mix tapes and educate my friends on new music, but was still predominantly a bedroom DJ at this stage.

Throughout the years I have always embraced new sub-genres and get excited by fresh sounding music. I always try to think a little outside the box and not adhere to sounding like someone else. My sound has definitely evolved over the years, but the roots of my tracks always seem to remain the same… For me it's all about having Groove, Soul and a Memorable Hook whether it's a vocal or something musical, encompassing elements of the Deeper side of things.

Crèche has a great reputation as a forward thinking club night in London, what's it been like working there and building it up to the event it is today?

Myself & Alexis Raphael's original ethos for starting Crèche was because we personally felt we needed a platform to promote the music, which we had a strong passion for. At the time in London, there weren't many parties playing the music we were into, and we felt things had gotten a little stale and needed freshening up. Most places were still quite into a more Minimal Percussive, Deep House & Techno Vibe, where as we were playing and making tracks with more Soul, Vocals, and actual Music, taking inspiration from the 80's & 90's. Not only that, but we felt it was time that London had it's own identity again. For the past few years the music had been more German influenced and we wanted to change that.

Our first party only had 80 people in attendance, but by our 3rd & 4th parties we were pulling in over 800 people through the doors of Cargo.
Since then the party has gone from strength to strength and we have always tried to remain true to the music we love, thus booking Artists we see coming through as well as others we have admired and respected over the years. Our BIG ONE event at Ministry of Sound in October showcased what we felt was one of the leaders of the Old Skool in Kerri Chandler, alongside one of the leaders of the Nu-Skool in Jamie Jones. We were amazed by how quickly the party sold out, almost 2 months in advance. This really opened up the brand to a wider audience, and since then it has been the benchmark, which we strive to aim for when putting on parties. Our last 2 parties have been equally as amazing. I've DJ'd and been to all kinds of club nights in London over the years, and the vibe and music at Crèche really is 2nd to none I have experienced over the last 5 or 6 years. It's our job to maintain this and keep doing what we love and believe in.

It's Creche's 2nd Birthday in March isn't it? How are you going to celebrate it?

Yes that's right, On Sunday 4th March, we will be holding our 2nd Birthday, and taking the party to more intimate surroundings, using a venue we have never used before.

It's crazy to think that 2 years have past already. Seems like only yesterday we hosted our first party at Cargo. At the same time, we have grown and done so much over the last 2 years, so it's going to be a real celebration that we hope all the amazing people who have been a part of our family, will be joining us for.

We've got Eats Everything making his Crèche Debut. His Dancefloor Bomb ‘Entrance Song' was one of the Crèche Anthems of 2011. Alongside him we welcome back Miguel Campbell, who as well as smashing it at our parties @ Delano in Ibiza last summer, also tore up the Outdoor Terrace at The Brickhouse last September, so we're looking forward to having them both join us for the Birthday. It should be another great party.

And beyond that?

Sunday 8th April, sees us return to familiar territory, in the form of the Brickhouse on Brick Lane, where we shall be hosting an intimate Easter Sunday Residents Special. We've got an amazing crop of resident DJs at Crèche who never fail to deliver, so this should be a musical treat.
On Sunday 6th May, we'll be doing a Bank Holiday Special with Maceo Plex, Art Department + More Acts TBC. Tickets have been flying out for this one already, so we're expecting another early sell out.

We have quite a few other exciting events to announce very soon, which we are just in the process of finalising, so watch this space ;)

You have a new EP that's just been released, ‘Mythical Mystery'. What can people expect to hear?

Last year, I spent a lot of time working on either collaborations or remixes, so with this E.P, I wanted people to hear the real Cozzy D. As I've said before, I have quite an eclectic taste in music, and draw influences from all genres. I wanted to release an E.P with 4 original tracks, but I also wanted the tracks to differ in style, still complimenting my own true sound.
Each of the tracks go down a deeper root, and feature elements of soul & groove, with vocals & melodies.

Aphrodite takes influence from the 80's, where as Medusa has a more 90's sound. Labyrinth brings out my darker side, and Cupid incorporates my garage roots but with a nu-skool twist. I'd like to think the EP features something for everyone.

The press release says the music on the EP are ‘nigh on impossible to pigeonhole', but how would you describe it yourself?

Quite often people ask me what type of music I play or produce… to be honest, I don't like to pigeonhole my music into any one specific genre. In this day and age, there are so many ‘fad genres' and ‘buzz words' that people create. Then it becomes ‘fashionable' to say I play this or I play that etc. End of the day I like to think I have my own sound, in a nut shell, it's my take on House Music, but music can be whatever you want it to be really. Who cares what genre it is, if you like it, just enjoy it.

How easy or hard has the ride been with regard to your Lower East label?

Myself, Lee Brinx + Ed Kane, launched Lower East in the summer of 2010. Again, with the similar ethos to Crèche, but this time using it as a platform to release our music.

We felt, within our circles there were a group of very talented Producers, who weren't necessarily getting as much exposure as they should have been. We were quick to sign them up and worked very hard to push their music and showcase a new forward thinking sound. It's been amazing to see the likes of Alexis Raphael, WidKats, and us among others, getting more recognition for our work and in turn the label has grown organically. It's also been great seeing a real UK stamp on the label, London in particular. It's not been easy, as nothing is in this game, but we are all ambitious people, who are not phased by a bit of hard work and will continue to push the label as much as possible. We are just really happy to be exposing the music we love and it's been amazing to see all the fantastic support we've been gaining.

As we've discovered, you're someone who has experience in promoting events, DJ'ing, producing, and running a label. Can you offer any advice to anyone who is thinking of embarking on such an experience?

I've been involved in the music industry in some form or another for a long time, over 14 years now. It started as a hobby, DJing for fun in my bedroom or at House Parties, then the more I got into it, the more I knew it was all I wanted to do. I then got myself a job working in a record shop and from then on I branched off into promoting parties, producing my own tracks, and now running a label. Music has always been my passion, but it wasn't until about 3 years ago, when I was able to do it full time. It took me many years of working dead end jobs and wishing my weeks away, living for the weekend, before I was able to do what I really wanted to do.

My advise for anyone, is stick with your passion, believe in yourself and immerse yourself in the industry as much as possible, hard work and perseverance truly pays off in the end. You have to be a ‘Glass is half full' type of person to succeed in this game. Not only that, but never become complacent and always look at trying to better yourself and remain humble.
Someone once told me a long time ago, that in order to succeed in this industry, you need to be devoting all your time and efforts into it. At the time I was working full time for a Travel Company and relied on my monthly salary for security. 5 years later, after quitting the Travel Industry and Sales altogether, but still working full time, and office based, I got made redundant. I remember at the time, being quite down as I had no more reliable Income and would need to look for something else, and during a recession, which wasn't easy. It was then that I decided to focus on music 100% and to put all my efforts into my passion. It wasn't an easy ride, I'll be honest, and at times I felt like going back into full time employment but I stuck with it, and am really glad I did. That person proved me right. You only get one shot at life, so I believe we should make the most of our chance, do what we want to do, and most of all, be happy doing so.

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