From Toronto With Hope - Cozmic Cat -- by Alex Goldberg, January 2007
In the 12th century, the scholastic theologian Peter Lombard proposed an idea calling for a loving relationship between people that would begin a mass movement towards Love. In the school of loving hermeneutics, we are told, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed. In 1998, the disbanded group, Brand Nubian, reunited and put out the boho-Afrocentric album, Foundation. On the track, "Love vs. Hate" Grand Puba says, "Cause it's love, vs. hate, time for my people to eliminate that hate, let's love."
On January 6th, 2006, I met with nomadic DJ and producer, Cozmic Cat at the Mars Diner in Toronto. During an interview over a burger with fries and two coca cola"s, I learned two things; geography is arbitrary—a party is as good as you want it to be, whether you are in Boise Idaho in your uncle Bobby"s basement or at a New York loft party in the 70"s, and two, Cozmic Cat is part of a long narrative of the love chain [Get on the train!] that stresses action over talk and positivism over pessimism. And let us now turn to our prayer books: Chapter 1, verse 1: what do you miss the most about Philly?
Packed into a side table in the Mars Diner on College and Bathurst, I seem to have caught Cozmic Cat off guard by beginning the interview so abruptly mid-burger eating. Nonetheless, she answers with a casual and definitive, "I miss the vibe. It"s just a different vibe here, the energy is not the same here as it is there." I explain to Cozmic Cat that a friend once described Philly as a city that is so raw, it"s like having raw anal sex with a $2 dollar hooker. She agrees that it is an appropriate description, but goes on to explain that, "Yeah, it"s also very comfortable, it"s very safe there, my house has been broken into, and I"ve seen guns pulled, but it still feels really safe to me." Rewind the track: SIDE A: Cozmic Cat is a DJ/producer who, originally born in London Ontario spent most of her life traveling, everywhere from Africa to upstate New York and then found herself spinning "soulful jazzy tracks" in the city of brotherly love. With the aid of fellow DJ"s Jon Gil and DJ Lorne, the three formed the label, From Philly with Love. Cozmic Cat has worked alongside, Schooly D, Bahamadia, De La Soul, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the list goes on. SIDE B: Cozmic Cat, after an eight year stint in the states has moved back to Canada, setting up tent in Toronto. LINER NOTES: It seems that love travels with Cozmic Cat, for, as she says, "I met this girl, and I fell in love, and she was from Ithaca New York. So I ended up moving down to Ithaca, and my girlfriend at the time said, ‘I"m going to Philly," and I was like, ‘fuck it, I"m going to."" New love, new city, speed track 8 years and finally, from Philly--with love, Cozmic Cat returns North.
It wasn"t until she was in Philly that Djing took a career option for Cozmic Cat. Gig upon gig, Cozmic Cat and Philadelphia began an 8 year loving "safe" relationship. But as Woody Allen, in Annie Hall, explains, "a relationship is like a shark, it has to keep moving or it dies. What we have on our hands, is a dead shark." But why Toronto Cozmic Cat? She explains that it just felt like it was the time to move back to Canada. Her action at the moment is to focus on producing, and assures me that she is not interested in changing Torontonian lifestyle, but explains, "when people come out and want to dance, that inspires me." Parliament Funkadelic divided the world between the funked out soldiers of God"s good funky grace, and "the blahs." It is on the dancefloor that the war is fought, and it is on the same battlegrounds that Cozmic Cat fights the good fight. "When I started [Djing] I was focused on what each turntable was playing, it was that long ago. The key to Djing is to read the crowd and get the party going and lasting." A task that is not for everyone.
The interview takes an interesting turn, as I begin to confess my own disheartening opinion of Toronto, and tell Cozmic Cat that maybe I"ve been in Toronto for too long. "It"s probably from being anywhere too long, you go out and hear the same shit all the time." True enough. Or maybe, I"m disheartened because I am tired of what"s happening to Djing, which she reassures me that, although Djing is changing its form (ipod Djing, CD Djing) there are still those who will keep to their commitment to turntable ethics. Cozmic Cat has those ethics, however, she is not opposed at all to the changing nature of Djing, it"s just that she has "always used vinyl, always vinyl." As lunch ends, the interview winds down, and I realize that this one interview on a Saturday afternoon at Mars Diner has given me a glimpse at redemption for a seemingly tired city. And as we part ways, I think, in a time when a man, his lap top, and 100 discoed twenty-somethings can party in unison, it"s good to know that Cozmic Cat is in my city, and promises to stay true, have fun, and spin-- with love.