A self-proclaimed workaholic, The Bank’s newest resident, DJ Cobra (a.k.a. Andrew Bagg), is constantly on the move. Like a snake on a plane, the Los Angeles native tours more than 300 days of the year, hopping city to city and country to country intoxicating crowds with his good vibes and upbeat musical venom. As one of the most in-demand Top 40 DJs, he runs the L.A.-based nightlife production company Revolver and has created his own Groupon-inspired website, TheDrinkCity.com, offering drink and party deals throughout San Diego. Slide into The Bank every Friday and watch DJ Cobra kill it.
You’re one of the most booked and popular DJs on the open-format circuit. What are some of the most difficult aspects of touring as much as you do?
It can be a bit tedious because you can literally be on a plane every day, or in cabs or hotels. It can be taxing on the body day in and day out. There have been times that I haven’t been home for 27 days straight. Back in ’03, I went on tour with Nelly and I got meningitis and had to go into intensive care; it was from just being run-down.
What are some of the challenges of open-format DJing that most people don’t realize?
You have to go into any room at any party and be able to rock it. I just did a party two weeks ago for the NHL All-Star Game and didn’t play one hip-hop or house record. It was all ’80s and rock and disco as opposed to when Deadmau5 [plays]: He’s going to go wherever he wants in the genre of [electronic dance music], and it’s accepted. He’s never had [to play] anything popular that’s Top 40. Whereas I have to play popular stuff, what people want to hear at the moment, please as many people as possible and try not to piss people off because they want to hear what they want.
How many hours do you spend preparing your sets for the night?
I actually don’t prepare what I’m going to play that night. It’s like football: You have a playbook, but you don’t know necessarily when you’re gonna call it.
It sounds like you play for diverse crowds. Do you have a favorite artist you’ve opened for?
Someone like Prince is an exception. He’s very mysterious; someone like that, it doesn’t even seem like he’s a person because he was someone I listened to growing up. I remember Purple Rain and loving his music as a little kid; he’s a legend. The challenge with someone like Prince—who’s very finicky—was to see if I could get a rise out of him. For instance, I remember he asked me one time to play Fleetwood Mac and to me that was crazy. I would never expect that from him.
Clearly you have to have an extensive knowledge of music to do what you do. Do you think open-format DJs get the credit they deserve?
I still think DJing as a whole, as far as open format goes, hasn’t really. I guess as much as it’s interwoven in the culture, it’s never really reached its potential. For example, you know who Tony Hawk is, I know who Tony Hawk is, but I know very little about skateboarding. When you think about open-format DJs it’s hard to think of one individual or several who have reached that status at the profession. There’s so much more room for growth and potential in the genres. I know that house music is big, but more for its house productions, more than DJs and their ability to DJ and versatility and just overall music knowledge.
When Girl Talk came onto the scene, he did a similar thing to what open-format DJs do by mixing the unthinkable. How do you feel about him as an artist?
He brought this kind of music to festivals; he’s not really a DJ, he’s more of a music enthusiast. He doesn’t like to be claimed as a DJ, but by putting music together and blending, he kind of is one. I didn’t know who he was at the time and people would be like, “Oh, it kind of sounds like this Girl Talk guy.” So obviously it’s flattering that people say they like my music or my CDs better than him, because he’s had so much success.