Exclusive: Interview With DJ Cobra

Last Thursday, before his set at Smashboxx, I sat down with DJ Cobra (aka Andrew Bagg) in the lobby of his hotel in Scottsdale to discuss his life as a DJ and producer. What I found was that even though he’s had a DJ career some only dream about (and definitely knows how to throw down an epic set), he’s possibly one of the most intelligent business minded individuals I have ever met….

Amanda: “How did you get into DJ’ing? And how long have you been DJ’ing?”

DJ Cobra: “I mean I was buying music, collecting records and CD’s before I was formally DJ’ing. Since I was 12 years old I was buying music. I would literally spend all the money I had, lunch money, everything, so I could buy a new CD every weekend. It was a borderline obsession, actually a full on obsession. You either had to own a record store or be on the radio to get all the good music for free. I went to the University of Arizona and I had this really bad demo my buddy and I made in high school. I submitted it to the college radio channel and they gave me my own show. I used call letters to hit up every record label in New York and LA, and I would say I was the program director of a local radio hip hop station in Tucson. It was enough for them to at least start taking my phone calls. But I still wasn’t getting enough music, so I submitted a mix to one of the hip hop stations in Tucson, they put my mix on that day, and I was on the air from that moment on. At like 19 20, I was one of the biggest DJ’s in the country because of that. So that’s where it started going and I haven’t had a “real job” since then.”

Amanda: “What’s the story behind your DJ name?”

DJ Cobra: “It was a temporary name. Very temporary. It came from the fake radio show I did in high school. I think it had to do with GI Joe, the cool/bad guys in Karate Kid. It sounds cool, powerful, but I was always intending on changing it. I was going to change it for the radio show, for my first CD, but couldn’t think of anything, so it ultimately just ended up staying Cobra.”

Amanda: “How has your summer been tour wise?”

DJ Cobra: “It’s good… I mean, I probably average around no less than 20 shows a month. I stay pretty busy, I’ve been trying to travel less if possible, but it’s been a little tough. I just went to Chicago last week for Lollapalooza, Vegas the week before that. It’s been good, it’s been fun.”

Amanda: “What’s the most epic party you’ve ever played?”

DJ Cobra: “It’s impossible to pick. There’s been so many awesome experiences. Like for instance playing the HBO Emmy Award Show party, I was the only entertainment for the night. You’re Dj’ing for the biggest party, on the biggest night of television. You’re Dj’ing for Martin Scorsese, everyone’s in tuxedo’s.. It’s this glamorous 2 million dollar event and it’s just you, some of that’s a pretty surreal experience. Then there’s Spring Breaks in Cancun, with like 5,000 people. It’s always the parties you’re not prepared for. I did a party, just on Tuesday for 50 cent, for his movie with Robert Dinero called Freelancers, it just came out. I haven’t done an all urban party in a long time, they like the grimy, Atlanta, down south, music. I’m prepared in a sense that I, go with the way the crowd is responding. Being able to go into a room and own the room…. I own the room. You can’t really put that into words.”

Amanda: “You played Paris Hilton’s 30th birthday party… Did she try and jump on the decks and play?”

DJ Cobra: “No, she wasn’t really an aspiring DJ then. She called me up to play the party and it was at this place called Beacher’s Madhouse, Beacher’s is know for being very eccentric, like dwarfs flying bottles to the tables, things like that. It was a fun party with good energy. Went super late, then there was an after party, upstairs in the suite afterwards. Typical Paris rager. Good times.”

Amanda: “I hear you’ve been in the studio producing more House/Electronic beats… Any of those productions being released soon?”

DJ Cobra: “I’m making original music. I don’t necessarily want to classify it as any genre per se, but it’s definitely up tempo, good energy.”

Amanda: “But you’re an open format DJ, correct?”

DJ Cobra: “I am considered open format. But open format just means you’re a jack of all trades, an expert in all fields. I’m not narrow. I mean, See I view EDM [electronic dance music] DJ’s more as producers and not DJ’s. Most open format DJ’s who are really good will on a technical aspect destroy any EDM DJ’s at their own genre. But from a production standpoint, that’s where those guys shine. And now a lot of these EDM guys are focused more on the visuals of their show, and even if they wanted to, they couldn’t even DJ live because all the cues have to be perfect, so therefore they have to have a glorified pre-made set, or a glorified one track, or whatever you want to call it. But that’s fine.”

Amanda: “Are any of your productions being released soon?”

DJ Cobra: “I would hope so. I just submitted a track to one of the biggest rock bands in the world. I’ll know if it gets picked up hopefully early next week. You will be the first to know.”

Amanda: “Cool! Thanks man! Where do you hold residencies?”

DJ Cobra: “It’s interesting, the word residency. I used to be a residency whore. But I don’t do weekly gigs anymore. I kinda like people missing me. I do a lot of once a month residencies. I do Hyde at the Bellagio in Vegas, Haze a lot too, I’ll do San Francisco once a month, Flux and Stingaree in San Diego. In LA I do Supperclub, Sur Lounge, there are so many more…. I’m in a fortunate place where I can stack my calendar and not have redundancy. Chicago underground once a month, I go to New York once a month. I stay active, but everything’s more calculated.”

Amanda: “Tell me about Revolver Group…”

DJ Cobra: “We produce a bunch of weekly parties in LA. A Monday party at The Writers Room, Tuesday’s at Sur Lounge, Thursday we do the Roosevelt Pool. How it [Revolver Group] started was I was playing all these pretentious, high-end bottle service, hard to get into venues. That’s kind of where I put all my energy. You meet all these guys that are spenders… You as a DJ are bringing value to the buck. With my travel schedule, I needed someone to take care of my big spenders, and funnel all of my relationships. The Dj keeps people spending money and the VIP hosts bring in people to spend money. So instead of waiting to be the last people added [to the venue’s staff], the theory was, why don’t we go find our own venues, throw our own parties and hire our own promoters to compliment our VIP’s, and start our own team. At this point, we don’t support anyone else’s nights.”

Amanda: ” What about Drink City?”

[Note from Amanda: At this point in the interview, Cobra whipped out his iPhone and showed me step by step what Drink City was and how it worked. Obviously impossible to explain without showing you the app. In a nutshell… It’s somewhat like “Groupon” for bars and clubs. Drink City is AWESOME!!! Check it out here www.thedrinkcity.com

Amanda: “You’re also opening a nightclub in LA, right?”

DJ Cobra: “Yes, on Sunset. Should be open by Halloween. Our working title name is CandyBox, and I have great working partners. We’re excited. 4500 square feet. Only open two nights a week, one night will be a live music with some of the most hard to see live acts. Live acts you would see at the Hollywood Bowl. The other night will be a general club night.”

Amanda: “You have your hand in a lot of different sides of the industry, but where’s your true passion?”

DJ Cobra: “I mean I’ve always been an entrepreneur and I’ve always loved music. Everything that I do goes hand in hand with music.”

For more info about DJ Cobra: http://www.djcobra.com/ Or check out his SoundCloud at: http://soundcloud.com/djcobra


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