Interview & Mix : Daniel T (Cosmic Kids)

Check out Daniel T’s first bit of solo output in the form of a lovely chilled mix and a free download whilst getting to know him a little better below…

Growing up, what kind of music was being played around the house? Did you parents introduce you to any records that you consider influential?
Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, The Cars Greatest Hits, and Paul Simon’s Graceland stand out to me when I look back to my early childhood. Those albums really resonated with me for some reason. It totally makes sense if you look at my record collection today.

What did you consider to be your first real true introduction to dance music / electronic music?
I went through a long “drum machines have no soul” phase in middle school and high school. I was pretty fixated on classic rock for a long time. I remember taking a liking to The Chemical Brothers and Massive Attack later on in high school, but I don’t think I understood dance music until The DFA came around. The things those guys were doing in the early 2000s completely changed everything for me.

Did you have many friends into the same music when you were first getting into dance music? Or were you kind of on your own until you met like-minded people through DJing?
Ron, the other guy in Cosmic Kids, was always introducing me to great music, and still does to this day. I 100% credit him with turning me on to dance music. My other close friend Aaron Castle was into a lot of the same stuff as well. Aaron and I carpooled to Santa Monica College, so we’d listen to KCRW and whatever new DFA music was out that month (and other music in that vein).

You weren’t living super close to the city when you were first getting started, but were you driving out to a lot of shows and parties when you became old enough? Do you remember any parties or sets in particular around that era that really blew you away?
Going to parties in general blew me away because I never did any of that in high-school, so once I got a taste of the LA music scene, I was pretty hooked. I was really blown away when I went to the afterparty for Franz Ferdinand’s first show in Los Angeles. They were DJing off their iPods. At the time I had no standard for DJing or warehouse parties, so I just thought the entire experience was mesmerizing. That was only 10 years ago, so that shows you how new I am to all of this.

Name five records that never left your bag when you were first playing regularly around LA.
At first, we didn’t have many records, so Ron and I shared our collections. I remember us playing these a lot early on.
In Flagranti – Genital Blue Room
Dance Reaction – Disco Train (Morgan Geist Caboose Mix)
Black Leotard Front – Casual Friday
Chic – Dance, Dance, Dance
Gwen Guthrie – Seventh Heaven

And how about five current records that you’re rinsing at the moment?
The Shunters – Since Morning
Hidden Fees – So What
Guillaume Des Bois – La Symphonie Des Rues
Will Powers – Adventures in Success
Phill & Friends Band – This Man

Most people know you for your work as Cosmic Kids, and now for the first time you’re releasing stuff by yourself in addition to your music with Ron. How would you consider your solo efforts different than your previous releases with Cosmic Kids? Does your solo project aim for a slightly alternative vibe than what most people expect from you?
With Cosmic Kids, Ron and I were always evolving. I don’t think that project ever had a definitive sound because we were always trying new things and learning along the way. For example I think our first single “Reginald’s Groove” sounds almost nothing like our Giselle Remix. I like that about Cosmic Kids, and I think its just the way Ron and I tend to work together. My solo stuff is a bit more focused. I’m deliberately using the same drums and synthesizers on a lot of my new material. I like the idea of limiting myself to specific sounds to create a more cohesive set of music; for the time being at least.

Tell me a bit about where you’re finding yourself musically these days. You’ve always maintained a specific vibe, but I feel like your selections and productions have matured in a new direction over the last couple years. What could this be a result of?
I’ve been bitten by the world music bug pretty hard. I don’t really like using the term “world music,” but that’s how they file it in the record stores, so I’m just going to roll with it. I’m not entirely sure what it’s a result of, but I think it has to with a personal backlash against rigid, stiff music. So much of the music I grew up loving, rhythmically chugs along like a train. By no means am I hating on chuggy music, I just think I needed to loosen up a bit. Some of the wonkiest stuff I have ever heard happens in African and Brazilian music, and that is inspiring to me because it is so counter-intuitive to my ears and body. I can’t seem to get enough of it lately.

“Resonant Places” is your new mixtape, which is almost entirely made up of your own material. Tell me a bit about the process of creating this and what you were setting out to achieve with this project. How long did it take?
I really want this mix to show people what I am all about as a producer and as a DJ. This is the music I’m interested in making right now and these are the labels and projects I’m currently working with. To tie everything together, I’ve mixed in records that I’m really digging lately. A normal DJ mix might take me a few hours to put together, but this one took me quite a bit longer because I chose to create some of the songs as I went along. The first track for example was designed to start the mix off. I tend to take my time making tracks, so I’d say it probably took me about a month to get this thing wrapped.

resonant places

The artwork really stands out as well, what’s the story behind it and does it reflect a certain era of music that you consider special? Or was it totally random?
The art was designed by my very talented friend, Evan Stalker. To be completely honest with you, it was designed for another producer, but was rejected. Haha. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure I guess. I love it because it reminds me of album artwork I noticed in my parents’ CD collection when I was little. There was this common trend of the artwork itself being in its own window, separate from the musician’s name and title. It’s kind of like they were saying “Here’s some music for you, and as an added bonus, here’s a pretty picture. Enjoy!”

A few of the tracks included in the mix aren’t yours though. Some are new and a few are from the past – you’ve been collecting records for many years now but how do you keep it fresh and stay motivated to continue doing so?
The key to keeping it fresh is to never worry about keeping it fresh. I do my best to only buy records that elicit a strong emotional or physical response from me. If I hear something and my first thought is “I must have this. I need to play it in my sets and hear it one thousand more times,” then I know its worthy of being purchased. I stay motivated to continue to collect because it has become an uncontrollable addiction, so I don’t really have much of a choice at this point.

Describe the perfect setting in which we should listen to this mix for the first time.
Its really hard for me to say. I think it depends on the person. I’m in my car a lot, so I tend to design my mixes for long drives, but my hope is that the mix works in many different settings.

Are any of these tracks seeing an official release anytime in the near future?
The Michael David tune is coming out soon on a new label I’m starting with Cooper Saver (aka you) called Distant Works. The Gravura edit will be released very soon on a label I run with my Tony Adams called Chit Chat Records. The Cosmic Kids rmix of Silva just came out this month. Other than that, the original tracks have no home yet.

Where can we find you online?
Soundcloud.com/danieltmusic is the best place to find me.
There you can find links to all my other internet stuffs.

Interview by Cooper Saver