COZMIC CAT with LORNE and JOHN FOX at Concord Café (937 Bloor West), Saturday (January 27). Free. www.myspace.com/djcozmic Rating: NNNNN
Three years ago, when DJ Cozmic Cat (aka Paula Burrows) returned to Canada after building a respectable name for herself in Philadelphia, she thought she was leaving the DJ game behind.
"I really was completely burnt out after Philly, and I really didn't give a shit if I ever played again. I thought I wasn't going to - I thought I'd closed the chapter," she recalls from her sister's place in London, England, having timed her visit perfectly with the huge wind storm.
"I started to spin for fun - and it was. Then I won some high-profile awards, which meant that certain event bookers wanted to put me in front of all these gala events and different crowds, which was good for my career, but wasn't really why I got into DJing."
After coming to Toronto, she didn't touch the decks for a year until a friend coaxed her into dropping a few tunes at a low-key gig. Experiencing the joy of setting the room on fire with a few records reawakened the desire to get back to what she'd been looking for when she started in the mid-90s.
As soon as she opened herself to the possibility, gigs started falling in her lap, and in a big shift from what she'd been doing in Philly, a large chunk of them were for queer crowds.
"It felt really safe, really low-pressure - these people just want to have fun, and it's not like being down on Richmond or Adelaide. Initially I started performing at the Gladstone, and it was the perfect venue to play whatever you want for a really open, fun crowd."
As well as a semi-regular gig at the Gladstone's Wednesday-night Hump Day Bump, she plays Thursdays at Raq 'n' Waq, monthly at Ciao Edie's Sunday nights, frequently at Andy Poolhall and sporadically at the Sparrow. And now she's doing her own monthly party - Hot Steppin' - at the Concord.
Along with the return to the turntables, she's also reviving From Philly with Love, the label she co-founded with Jon Gill and Lorne. A vinyl EP coming out soon features their soulful, funky take on the mash-up concept. Like her DJ sets, it has bits of hiphop, reggae, soul, house, funk and whatever else she feels like throwing in.