Playing the opener slot at any club in Toronto is no small undertaking. But opening on a night that boasts of all-stars like Sebastien Leger, Steve Lawler, or Pleasurekraft?•demands a savviness that isn't often associated with a conventional opener.
Cosella, or Andreas Rizek, is not your conventional opener.
With an impressive repertoire of artists he's shared the stage with, as well as a spot on this year's Digital Dreams lineup?•Cosella's short career has already been fruitful.
But the Cosella wave has only just barely touched the shore. As a local pioneer in the G-House movement, Andreas turns his hip-hop and tech house synthesis up a couple notches with every release. He's long been stirring the waters with music signed to labels like Sleazy G, Provoke and Rare Beef. The Aurora native is co-owner of Toronto's Downpour Recordings and has a rich and enviable background in the music business. With a past internship at Sony Music Canada, a degree in Music Business and Audio Engineering and a current position at SOCAN, Andreas has a sturdy foundation in industry knowledge that some can only dream of.
All reasonable bragging rights aside, Andreas has a steadfast humbleness about him that any producer?•big, small or mainstream?•should take heed of. His resolute passion and the surplus of his successes are a testament to the genuine and modest artist that he is.
THUMP had a chance to talk to the Toronto favourite about his new EP, future plans and off-beat business tactics. Today we're pleased to premiere his EP In My Roots, which you can listen to above.
THUMP: How did you find your way into producing G-House?
Andreas: The G-House stuff started a year and a half ago. Like anything else, it was a natural progression. The fusion of hip-hop and house music felt like a cool way of doing things. The genre itself is in its infancy, I think. I want it to keep evolving with that nasty, stank-face bassline attitude. Some people think the genre is full of this "fuck you attitude" to music, but I don't really believe that. I'd rather let the music talk for itself.
How did the scene in London, Ontario attribute to your musical upbringing?
I've been super fortunate to have the right people around me. I was in school in London for about five years, and as I was there things started to pick up in the dance music scene. As artists like Poupon graduated and left, there was a gap to fill. I was fortunate that my friends were the ones who put these music events?•like Mark Russell, the Premiere Life crew and the CDN guys. We all ended up being good friends and naturally ended up doing events together.
How did you get into the scene in Toronto?
I hooked up with the Provoke guys eventually?•they have taught me so much… especially Jed Harper.
The guys from ElectricTO too?•Antonino, Rynecologist, Meech?•I attribute a lot of where I am now to those guys. When I was 17 or 18, I became a huge fan of their ElectroTO website, where they blogged about super cutting edge music. I went to all their shows, bought all their merch and was genuinely passionate about what they were doing. We ended up becoming close friends. They were one of the biggest reasons for me jumping into this industry.
But I'm still an infant in the Toronto scene. This area has quite a history and it already has its players, so you have to think critically about what's around you and who you have to respect. I think I've solidified a place as one of those guys who hustle?•I don't know if I'd say I'm on the up and up, but I'm definitely around.
You've got a crazy resume as the opener and closer for some huge names, how has that been?
Yeah, that has been awesome. I've gotten to play with a lot of huge names and names that I really like.
But if someone tomorrow were to ask me to headline Coda, I would probably tell them I don't think I'm ready. Because of my experience in the business side of music, I know what it takes to get to that point?•headlining Coda, for example. That kind of thing is something you've got to build up to and work towards. I'd rather headline because people are saying, "this guy needs to headline," rather than do someone a favour and fill a slot. You've got to be ready for it, then it's more special that way.
Why did you decide to start the label Downpour Recordings?
Downpour is mine and Peter Marrone (Guyus Grey) little baby. I've worked in the music industry for a while now so this just seemed natural. I understand how labels work, how they sign records and how an artist can get their records signed. The label is definitely time consuming but it's mad fun.
You don't have a release yet on Downpour Recordings, though. Why is that?
I have a plan where, if it doesn't work out, it'll burn me. As I build my brand, I hope to get a substantial following. Once I do, I'll close the network of labels I'm releasing on and I'll start releasing only on Downpour?•so that Downpour will be where people can go to find Cosella music and continue to our other artists. Basically, touch everybody and then bring them in to Downpour. I know it's a backwards tactic, but it's a tactic I'm trying.
Tell us about In My Roots.
It's been a long time coming. In My Roots is a three track EP with Sleazy G Records that I'm super stoked on?•I'm a firm believer of quality over quantity.
The first track "In My Roots" is getting the most attention, especially from guys like Wax Motif and Thee Cool Cats. The track is with Devin Rattie from City Kid Soul. We started the track back in London when we lived together. The second track is called "Hoes and Tricks." Originally I had thought this was my favourite track until I discovered it's no one else's favourite track [laughs]. But I still like it. The last track I finished is called "Rose," which would not have been possible without my buddy TJ?•Room 303?•who helped me get my music to Rob at Sleazy G Records this summer. I owe a lot to that guy.
You were asked to play Bud Light Digital Dreams this year, how did that all happen?
That was such a whirlwind weekend. Again, I'm super fortunate that my friends were the ones involved in the festival?•Rory and Mark Russell, Ryan Sheppard and Nitin from No.19?•I was able to watch them develop Digital Dreams. At 10 AM on the second day of the festival, I got a call from Nitin who told me an artist had missed their flight and they needed someone to play the No.19 tent that day. I said 'no problem, I'm there.'
It was an incredible experience from the moment I hooked up and started playing. The difference between that set from any other was that the whole audience was there to come out to dance and have a good time?•it's not always like that. I want to play festivals as much as I can now. That's a part of my game plan for 2015.
Catch Cosella at CODA on Saturday, January 3 when he supports for Andhim, grab your tickets here.