Cosmo Vitelli hasn’t slept since 1973. Instead, he’s replaced slumber with the tireless exploration of dance music. Sharing his finds as an accomplished DJ and label manager but also as an esteemed producer, with heaps of records, remixes and edits under his belt.

Currently based in Berlin where he’s relocated his studio, Cosmo is back to releasing music under his own name. As part of our Tour Stories feature, we sat down with the enigmatic Frenchman to discuss life on the road as a touring DJ.

The last place to blow my mind was

Well, the last thing to literally blow my mind (and the rest) was at ‘The Observatory’ in Saigon, Vietnam. They were all swallowing balloons or laughing gas to get wasted, as was I. Its crazy over there they sell more balloons than drinks at the bar.

Outside of that and for more special reasons I love playing in Jakarta for the Dekadenz party. It is pretty impressive by what they have managed to develop in a country that does all it can to minimize the scene. This was definitely the highlight of the past few months.

The city I would love to move to one day

Somehow I fantasize about Belgrade. There’s something special about this city. I think it is probably due to the fact it was quite isolated during the embargo years. Despite the huge corruption everywhere, the people I know from Belgrade seem very connected with values that have been long forgotten in my native country.

My Lost in Translation moment

I had this weird gig in Florianopolis, Brazil. It turned out to be a very mainstream club. Nobody spoke English at the venue at all I was quite lost.

Next, to the DJ booth, there was one guy broadcasting a show live from the club. I was waiting to start my set & he started speaking to me in Portuguese. I tried to reply that I had no idea what he was trying to tell me.

In return, all I received was a thumb up. Next thing I know he pushed me into the booth, gave me a microphone and asked me directly a couple of questions again. I kept on telling him that I didn’t have the slightest idea of what he was saying but he continued the questions. This lasted a couple of minutes before he showed me a thumbs up again. I still do not know what I said to this day but its probably one of my best interviews to date.

I never get on a flight without

Earplugs. It is very important to rest the ears from sonic pollution. Most people never do this & in my line of work, it becomes even more important.

The most surreal thing that’s ever happened to me while travelling was

I have had a couple. But In 2002 I was booked in a big club in Moscow – I can’t remember the name. However, the day before some armed Chechens attacked a theatre, keeping almost 1000 hostages inside.

The city put a curfew in place as a precaution. By definition, nobody was allowed to go out so I wanted to cancel the show but the owner insisted that it would happen. I got there and the man was super drunk and aggressive. He insisted the club would open and the party happen.

I ended up playing 3 hours in this empty club. Every 30 minutes a pole dancer came to the side of the decks and did this sexy dance to an absolutely empty room. Not even the owner was there. I still don’t know if it is the best or worse moment of my career.

The loneliest I’ve ever felt travelling was

Maybe A trip from Minsk to Vilnius the day Lithuania got officially into Schengen (I just checked, it was actually in 2007).

I was supposed to go there by train, but it looked like the whole of Belarus was trying to get into the European territory. The entire transport network was stuck. For some reason, only a shitty bus was allowed to cross the border so I got into it. It was packed with people bringing food & animals.

They were playing the movie Cliffhanger on the sole screen of the bus but it was dubbed with one Russian voice doing all the characters. Nobody spoke English.

At the Belarusian border, a soldier screamed at me, “No corruption”, which I absolutely didn’t doubt. Then seeing that I was a French national, mentioned his appetite for french women.

I arrived late in Vilnius and the party was empty except one guy standing on the dancefloor. Manfredas told me many years later that it was him that night.

The worst flight I ever had

Once on a flight, I was on the seat next to two B-grade french DJs luckily they didn’t see me, which was the best news ever. They spent the (long) flight talking about their gigs, fees, hotels. Honestly, I would have rather a screaming baby for the entire flight. Another reason why I value earplugs so much.

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