Q&A: Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy On Audiophilia, Secret People Watching And Forcing An Audience To Pay Attention
If an endeavor involves music in some way, Colleen "Cosmo" Murphy probably does it; she's mastered so many different musical endeavors, she's like a musical Danny DeVito. From DJing at her college radio station to spinning with David Mancuso at his fabled loft parties to remixing top-tier bands (under the name Cosmodelica) to running her own label Bitches Brew, she is in the rare class of women who get to call their own shots in an incredibly male-dominated industry. After a stint living in London with her family, she returned to the states a few months agoand she brought her long-running party Classic Album Sundays with her.
Camilo Fuentealba Colleen Murphy with Golf Channel Recordings honcho & CAS DJ Phil South's record collection.
You pretty much have the DJ dream resume.
Uhhhh, yeah. Have you ever actually looked at some of the names on there?? Kevorkian, Krivit, Dancetracks, Beedle. Tell us how you got involved with David Mancuso.
A friend of mine from NYU, Adam Goldstone, who was a mod and was into 1960s stuff, got really into house music and started taking me to parties around New York and took me to this place called The Loft. It must have been '91 or '92, right when David had reopened. And of course there's no queue outside or anything to show that there's a party going on in there. And I went in and was completely transformed. The system, the vibe, and the music being played was the deep, psychedelic, emotional, soulful music that I liked in rock music but had just not heard in dance music. I started going every week and I met a record dealer named John Hall there who I started working for, who paid me in records.
Then I started a radio show called Soul School. It must have been '92 when I finally got up the nerve to ask David to come do my show. He never really played outside of The Loft. He's not a DJ. He hosted the party and he selected the music. That's really how he views himself. And he's right; he's not a DJ. We forged a really good friendship and he asked me to do some one on ones with him at his party, so of course I was a nervous wreck. I mean, his cartridges are $2000 apiece and he has no headphones because it's a Mark Levinson preamp, so you gotta know what speed, what cut and cue it by eye. What he did that was so brilliant was to meld a hi-fi with a club PA. It's not a pure audiophile hi-fi, although a lot of the components are, but then the way he uses delays and dividing networks, that's all club PA stuff. Some people have tried to replicate what he does, but he was definitely the first. At his party there's no compressors, no graphic EQ and the preamp that he uses isn't a DJ mixer, it's literally just Phono 1 to Phono 2 with no ability to mix. I think he tried it once in the '70s and didn't think it was for him.