Cozmic Cat (aka Paula Burrows) knows how to light up a room. The combination of her infectious energy, undeniable skill and deep love of music in many genres makes her one of the most in-demand DJs in the city, and you can catch her soon as part of The Drake’s NYE 2021 celebrations.
We wanted to get to know Cozmic, and ask her about her experiences working in the industry as a female. Check out the below.
Let’s get right to it – can you tell us about what inspired you to get become a DJ in Toronto in particular?
I have always been into music as far back as I can remember. I had been living in Philadelphia and spinning there for a long time, so much that I felt burnt out, so when I returned to Canada I was pretty much OK with changing my career and letting the DJ thing go. Coincidentally, it was Drake Bartender Sandy De Almeida who invited me to play at her event Hump Day Bump years ago at The Gladstone Hotel that really got the ball rolling on my DJ career in Toronto. I played the night and realized I was still passionate about the whole game. I met a ton of people at those nights and became part of a community that I still DJ in today.
When you first got started as a DJ here, were there any obstacles in your way that you think have changed now for female DJs? Why or why not?
I think the sheer numbers of female DJs in the industry back then worked both for and against us. Being so few of us, It was harder to break into established groups or events and get noticed by promoters. We also may have received more attention back then as being a novelty, but I think people also tended to exoticize female DJs more often so it felt difficult to be taken seriously as a musician. Now there are way more women in the field and more scenes to become a part of and grow in. We have created our own events, and established our own scenes too. It gives women more options as to which scenes, venues or promoters they want to invest their time in, support and work with.
What are you the most excited to see that’s new or changing in the music landscape in this city?
The COVID pandemic has drastically altered the way we party and socialize. Pre-COVID, specifically in Toronto it was exciting and inspiring to see the diversity on the dancefloor and behind the decks. The parties were leaning towards a more global-themed and inclusive direction along the gender spectrum (i.e. less hetero-normative), both musically as well as with things like all-gender washrooms in more spaces etc., and venues seem to be more open to different sounds and crowds. To really feel included, it’s important to see yourself represented both on the dancefloor and in the DJ booth. While Toronto is still growing and changing in this regard, I’m grateful to live in such a cool city that has the ability to reflect a diverse demographic both on and off the dancefloor. It breaks my heart to see so many of these venues close down and hopefully, after COVID is under control, the spirit of diversity will continue in the remaining as well as new venues in Toronto.
What is the best way to support your local Djs now that the venues are no longer open for parties and dancing?
Do a little digging as to where you can find local DJs who are live-streaming (for example at the Drake for NYE). A few venues are hosting events online featuring their regular DJs and their virtual DJ sets. Check out Mixcloud, a legal live-streaming platform that hosts DJ sets and allows for the artists being played to get paid. Google your fave venue and your fave DJs and check out their websites, Soundclouds, Patreons, socials and Spotify. You’ll see artists still hustling and creating everywhere. Even if it’s not financial, the likes and shares count and help us feel appreciated. If your fave DJ also makes music, consider purchasing or streaming their music, or sharing the love.
What is your favourite memory of The Drake?
Fireworks over the lake and the AWESOME party that went down on New Year’s Eve at the Drake Devonshire in Prince Edward County. When you’re out in the countryside and in a beautiful setting with great people, it just feels like everyone is connected in a different way than in the City.