Cincinnati's own Juan Cosby is nothing short of a renaissance man. Not only is he currently the vocalist/producer for Counterfeit Money Machine and keyboardist/producer for BIG’UNS, he's also the Co-founder of Grasshopper Juice Records who not only has a roster of independent acts but they also book national artists, coordinate local events in Cincinnati all while throwing the Adjust Your Eyes Music and Art Festival every year since 2006. Whew.. I'm tired just writing that.
From the OH: Where did the name Juan Cosby come from?
Juan Cosby: [laughs] It's not that interesting really. There was a wide receiver that played for the Texas Longhorns whose name was Quan Cosby. We were just sitting around, this was probably like 10 years ago and we couldn't tell what they were saying. It sounded like the broadcaster kept calling him Juan Cosby and we were just laughing at the idea of someones name being Juan Cosby and then it stuck with me. When I kind of needed a producer handle, I didn't want to use my real name which is Nick Mitchell so I'm like.. I need something different and Juan Cosby stood out to me so I used it. I never thought I'd be using it as much as I do now.
From the OH: I've read that you're a producer, vocalist, keyboardist, DJ and the list goes on. What did you identify as first and how?
Juan Cosby: I guess the first instrument I've ever played is drums and then in my late teens I taught myself to play keyboard. As I got to be really focused on hip-hop it was really easy to focus on production because that's mostly laying down keyboard lines, some bass lines on your keyboard and putting cool drums together. I would say beat production is all I really care about in my heart. I love performing, I do DJ sets and with Counterfeit Money Machine I'll be doing hypeman type stuff where it's my beats but I'm rapping with the guys. Rapping isn't even my true passion. Beat production is definitely it. That's why with the solo album, I don't really do any vocals on it even though I do vocals on a lot of other things. I just really wanted to focus on the one thing that I loved the most. Beat production is so nice because you just get lost in a world, you know you're sitting home with your laptop or wherever you are and you start putting some cool sound design together... that's just the best feeling in the world.
From the OH: What would you classify your music as?
Juan Cosby: Shoot! [Laughs] Yeah I don't know, I guess Progressive Hip-Hop. I mean everyone says it's really hard to classify what you do so I guess I would just say hip-hop. I think the more you try to spruce it up with a name like; Art Rap, Experimental or Psychedelic .. I mean I'm really into progressive and experimental music, stuff like that and I think it shows in my music but I mean it's hip-hop. To me it's hip-hop, it doesn't necessarily sound like Mos Def or something but it hip-hop.
From the OH: What makes you relatable to your fans?
Juan Cosby: I think it's the fact that I'm a fan of it myself. Since I don't really rap that much it's easier for me to be subjective about what I like. I feel that I'm not afraid to tell my friends what I like and don't like. Me being critical of stuff has helped me a lot but I also feel like half the time my friends hate me because of that. [laughs]
From the OH: What can we expect from Inhospitable Planet?
Juan Cosby: Some synth melodies and a lot of really talented rappers talking about the state of affairs right now. When we first started making the album a couple of years ago, social media was shining a light on all of the horrible things the police were doing in this country. All of the Donald Trump stuff first started to come about and even in Cincinnati. Inhospitable Planet gives you an idea of a lot of stuff that's going on around here. We had a police officer (Ray Tensing) down by the University of Cincinnati shoot an innocent black man (Sam DuBose) and there was a mistrial now their trying to retry the police officer that had a confederate flag t-shirt on underneath his police uniform. It's just crazy, I feel like we're just living in a crazy world right now and we were basically trying to capture that.
From the OH: What is your favorite track on this album and why?
Juan Cosby: I think it's probably Crash Report, the song with AP and Audley. I think it came out really well, Audley did some singing on it and I'm partial because that's one of my more favorite beats on the album too. It's one of the more attention grabbing songs on the album.
From the OH: What can we expect next from Juan Cosby?
Juan Cosby: Man, I don't know what's going to get done next. I've got a lot of stuff in the works with a bunch of different people but I'm guessing another Counterfeit Money Machine album. We're working on a 4-5 song album. I've got 2 guitar players playing on the album, my buddy is playing sax on the album, the songs are going to be a little.. deeper. Like what's happening 2 minutes into the song is going to be completely different from what's going on 10 minutes into the song and it'll be packed with guitar solos, sax solos, rap verses, hooks .. it's going to be really different.
From the OH: You do a lot and you also run a record label as well. How are you able to do all of that stuff at one time and not lose your mind?
Juan Cosby: Oh man, that's a good question. I would say that I DO lose my mind! [laughs] I'm married with a 6 month old baby at home. My life is crazy, especially with the "losing my mind"part. It happens a lot more this time of the year because over the Summer we're playing a lot more shows and tours, my album comes out the end of June, but my record label puts on an annual music festival that happens at the end of July so if you ask my wife she'll definitely tell you that this is the time of year that I lose my mind every single year because it's a big undertaking. Luckily, I think the way I DON'T lose my mind is because I have an amazing supporting cast of people to help me through all of it .. out of love. Like right now, I'm with a rapper named Haskell and he's been doing all kinds of graphic design work. I can't go out much with the baby so he'll come to my house and we'll work on stuff while I'm taking care of her. Andrew (AP) from Counterfeit Money Machine, he helps with the label a lot and he's made a lot of real cool music videos for it. This producer, Supa did my album cover so basically they fill in and do all of the stuff that I'm not really good at. Graphic design is not my forte, so it definitely would not be possible if I didn't have an amazing network of talented musicians that can also do behind the scenes business work type things.
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NOTE: The AYE Music & Art Festival is going down July 28-30 in Cincinnati, OH. So check out some great vendor booths, food and music all while helping some wonderful organizations such as the American Cancer Society.