t’s been a while since i posted. the reason is that It just takes a long time to contact people, photograph them and then getting some info about their collection. so, hopefully, things will start to roll more easily and naturally.
Here is Cosmo Baker. I first met him in the winter of 2005. I came back from my trip to Mexico and stopped in NYC for 10 days. He was spinning some records at South Paw in a record launch party for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. His selections at that night were just incredible, and I had the time of my life dancing my ass off to some kick ass rare funk. it was something different for me. Back then, these kind of funk parties never existed in Tel Aviv, my home town, so I felt so lucky and inspired. I contacted Cosmo on the day after and told him I have this idea for a photo essay about vinyl collectors of the funk & soul genre. unfortunately, we didn’t succeed to make it happen at that visit, but Cosmo kept his promise to open his door to me and let me have a peek on his record collection. 4 years later, I live in Brooklyn. a quick phone call to Cosmo, and here we are.
Cosmo greeted me on that cloudy day with a warm smile and some delicious pistachio nuts. He was in the middle of ripping some LP’s into MP3, for his next gig. while we were shooting and talking he had all that crazy music playing, and I was trying hard to concentrate on my photography instead of the music.
here are some questions & answers for Cosmo. sorry if some of them are obvious, but if you have any suggestions, questions or comments, use that comment option on the bottom and write me something. here we go…
Q: What age did you start Collecting?
A: I started Djing at age 15 so that’s when I really started collecting, but I’ve been actually buying since I was 9 or 10 years old.
Q: What prompted you to start collecting?
A: A love for the music and the desire to have deep crates for Djing. But once you get started it’s kind of impossible to stop. You always need more, and I also have a “completionist” mentality, so I want entire catalogs if I can help it.
Q: What was your initial interest in music? did you get influence from your family? did you play any instrument?
A: I grew up in a household where music was always being played – whether it was on records and tapes or on the radio. Plus I played several instruments when I was younger, you know always there would be something going on be it piano lessons or drum lessons or violin… And as for my interest in music, I can’t really answer “why” because it is as natural as breathing to me.
Q: Why vinyl?
A: Because that’s the format that was available when I was a kid, and although I collected cassette tapes for a while, you needed vinyl to DJ with. Plus, there’s something that’s unmatched by other formats when you’re actually holding the physical product that is vinyl in your hands. It just feels more tangible to me, and of course it sounds superior in every way. The art, even the smell, the whole package for real.
Q: What about the archival qualities of vinyl. does it play a roll for you?
A: Still waiting for Cosmo’s answer (E.P.)
Q: How do you organize the collection?
A: My collection is so disorganized right now it’s terrible. But usually it’s split into two sections that are “Hip-Hop” and “Not Hip-Hop.” I’m trying to figure out how to organize my MP3s at the moment. I’m actually incredibly meticulous about organizing them down to every last detail, but there’s just so many.
Q: Have you ever battled for a rare record? what happened?
A: Yes, on eBay I’ve battled and I’ve lost. But then I realized I just needed to put more money up and started to win! That’s about it on some battling shit. I never was the dude who was into trading – I would much rather keep and buy more!
Q: Cosmo, Cosmo!..Tell me a “vinyl tale”…
A: Back in the day, my man DJ Jazz (of Philly rap group Robbie B & DJ Jazz) kind of used to show me what was up on the digging tip, sort of like a mentor in a way. That dude was ill and always knew his stuff, and I remember all the time I would be out in the field pulling vinyl, and I would get home and pop it on thinking it was so ill, only to then notice somewhere on the jacket would be “DJ Jazz” tagged on it. I was picking up my dude’s scraps…
Q: How many LP? 45s?
A: Between my apartment in Brooklyn and my mother’s basement in Philadelphia I have about 15,000 LPs and 12”. With 45s I would say about 3,000.
Q: What was the most you ever spent on a vinyl?
A: The most I ever spent on an LP was a little over $1,000 for the East of Underground LP. listen to it here. The most I ever spent on a 45 was a little over $120 for the Chester Randall’s Soul Senders “Soul Brothers Testify” about 10 years ago.
Q: Do you wanna share with us the story behind this vinyl splurge?
A: Well my wife fell in love with that song and insisted that their version of “I Love You For All Seasons” be the song that we were going to have our first dance to at our wedding. So I had a thing where I just had to have the vinyl, considering the sentimental value. I tried to find a copy by my wedding but that didn’t happen, but a few months later my friend DJ Anonymous in Helsinki came across a copy and so I had to ball out and do it. My wife was a little heated at first because I dropped so much coin on it but then she realized it was all good!
Q: What part of your monthly budget do you spend on records?
A: These days I use a computer program to DJ with, so my music buying budget has stopped being strictly vinyl and so I spend a lot on CDs and on MP3 downloads these days, but I still do buy records. Probably about $150 a month, not including special specific purchases. But with Serato, I’ve been able to stop buying records that are kind of temporary for Djing and have shifted into paying more money for more collectible pieces. When I first started laptop Djing I swore I was going to save money, not having to buy the disposable pop records that would be pertinent for like 2 weeks. Next thing you know I’m like “Fuck it, let me mint up on all my Curtis Mayfield LPs” haha…
Q: Any specific genre? why ? how do you connect to it? network?
A: I buy anything groovy. I have a wide range in music that I’m into, so if I want it I get it. I do a lot of purchasing and also research on the internet these days.
Q: Can you name some stores, trade shows, flea markets, thrift shops? record conventions?
A: WFMU is a great convention that just passed not too long ago, and there are some great stores here like Good Records and Academy. Tequila Sunrise in Philly is great. Groove Merchant in The Bay area. Every city has at least one ill spot. As for the thrifts, I’ll leave that to YOU to find out. No snitching…
Q: Is there an album / 45 that you are trying to find, unsuccessfully?
A: I’m always trying to get something but the one thing that I can think of off the top of my head is the Eddy Grant “Nobody’s Got Time” on Torpedo. I want that record.
Q: Favorite music labels? your favorite album ever?
A: Favorite music label is Def Jam and my favorite album ever is Maggot Brain.
Q: What is your favorite album art?
A: I don’t know, there’s so many to choose from, but really the first thing I thought of was basically anything that was designed by Mati Klarwein ,the guy who did Miles’ “Bitches Brew” among others… (and Santana’s Abraxas).
Q: One last question, which is my own little fetish. What’s the dirtiest, sexiest , filthiest album cover you know or own?
A: Well it has to be a Rudy Ray Moore record, right?!?
01. Ramsey Lewis “Them Changes”
02. Dick Hyman “Give It Up Or Turn It Loose”
03. Idris Muhammad “Super Bad”
04. Placebo “Humpty Dumpty”
05. The Keith Mansfield Orchestra “Soul Thing”
06. The Silhouettes “Fonky First”
07. Young Holt Unlimited “Wah Wah Man”
08. The Three Sounds “Repeat After Me”
09. Rick Wakeman “Catherine Of Aragon”
10. Philip Catherine “Give It Up Or Turn It Aloose”
Thank you Cosmo. Thanks for everyone for reading, viewing or just scrolling down that blog.
If you have a vinyl collection and want to be photographed for my project, email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Till the next time,