We are thrilled to feature visual arts queen – VJ Kobra – on our Industry Spotlight series. She has been absolutely killing the VJ game recently, providing eye candy for DMVU, Shlump, SubDocta, Zandro, Risik, and many many more.
VJ Kobra constantly inspires us, and we appreciate her willingness to speak candidly on her craft. We are also so appreciative of her sharing her Harmony VMF set with DMVU (downtempo!!!!!) and an EXCLUSIVE clip from her set with the one and only SubDocta.
Read her interview here, learn about her journey, and then watch some sets!
Abby Price-Offermann, Electric Hawk: Thank you so much for participating in our Visual Arts series on theelectrichawk.com!
To start: When did you first say, “this is the shit I want to do”? What pushed you to make the first steps to become VJ Kobra?
VJ Kobra: I went to EDC Orlando for my first big festival and ended up on the rail for Kaskade’s sunset set. That set was the first time I ever experienced what you can really do to make a crowd feel a certain way when you combine synchronized music, visuals, lights, and lasers. I remember thinking that I’d love to have that job because I could make art and make people feel good…
Fast forward to the next festival. My roommate Qian and I spring back to life just in time for Kygo’s set and I felt the exact same thing that I felt at Kaskade’s. I could not stop thinking about it. On the 5-hour car ride home, I kept blabbering on about how powerful music & visuals are in bringing people together and how special it is to be able to give someone an experience like that. Qian noticed the passion in my voice. She started to list all the reasons that it was possible for me and was adamant that I needed to do it.
I am so grateful for her and that conversation. It was really what gave me that push and made me have that conscious thought of “what she’s saying makes sense dude…just do it.” As soon as we got home, I started my deep dive into internet searches in desperation of finding out what exactly my dream career was! After too many hours spent online, I searched around for some scratch paper and made my official to-do list on “how to become a VJ.” And here we are.
Abby, Electric Hawk: Tell us one thing you wish you would have known when you were starting out. Anything you’d go back and tell yourself?
Kobra: I wish I would have known that this journey is extremely rewarding in so many unexpected ways. And that some of the most special friendships of my life would be born from late-night creative sessions spent together with other artists. (S/O Fractalliance and 808.mates fam, I love you guys!)
Abby, Electric Hawk: Could you explain your typical process? How does an idea come from the mind of VJ Kobra and onto a screen?
Kobra: I’d like to think I have a process but I really don’t. I freestyle 90% of my sets, and come up with things in the moment. They feel more authentic that way and I have more fun. Most of the time, I’ll listen to the intro to get an idea of how I want to start out. But after that, I start over, hit record, and just let my creative brain take over! I used to listen to the mixes submitted by the artist beforehand and try to preplan things but always ended up overthinking it. I prefer this way a lot more.
Abby, Electric Hawk: Give us three words that describe your “signature style.”
Kobra: Feminine. Diverse. COLORFUL!
Abby, Electric Hawk: Speaking of feminine – let’s talk about being a woman in a very male-dominated space. How does this impact your work? Is it something that crosses your mind often?
Kobra: First off, I’d like to mention that I’m the first woman to be signed to the Florida-based music & art collective, Fractalliance. It is a family of talented producers and visual artists that have treated me like the Queen Kobra I am since the very start. They are a shining example of how you should treat female artists and any artist in this industry. Also, most of my friends in this industry are men and are truly some of the greatest people I’ve ever met. This scene is filled with amazing peoples from all genders and I feel very lucky to be a part of it.
Now, navigating through this industry as a woman has been a…journey, to say the least. I’ve always been a tomboy with interests that are considered typically male-dominated so I feel like I’ve been able to adapt to working in this industry a little better because of that.
But I’ve had my fair share of comments that rub me the wrong way. And of course, there will always be those sexist jerks who think you’re a dumb girl who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Or the venue staff who won’t make eye contact with you because they think you’re “just a groupie”. I’ve had random dudes try to mansplain my job to me or use my visual work as an opportunity to try and hit on me. It can get really frustrating at times but I’ve gotten better at not letting it bother me. It’s not worth the mental energy. And those dummies are irrelevant anyway.
Abby, Electric Hawk: Where do you draw inspiration? What do you normally do to get a charge of creativity?
Kobra: I take myself on mindfulness dates. They usually include things like taking a walk in nature with my pup Elbow, climbing trees or playing on the swings at a park, or just journaling my goals and aspirations and what I’m grateful for. These dates help me clear my mind of any bullshit that may be distracting me and allow ideas to flow in more freely. Nature is also a huge inspiration of mine so anytime spent outdoors is especially recharging.
Abby, Electric Hawk: If you could provide visuals for any artist at any festival or venue, who and where would it be?
Kobra: I’ve been saying this since March 2019 and am confident I will manifest it.. I AM DOING VISUALS AT WAKAAN FEST! It would be an absolute dream to run visuals for the man himself, Liquid Stranger. Crazier things have happened so I’m sure my time will come! It’s also a major goal to see my visuals on those big pretty screens out there in Legend Valley.
Abby, Electric Hawk: 2020 has been… a wild ride to say the least. What have you learned this year that you feel has been helpful to your growth as an artist and a person?
Kobra: I’ve really learned and accepted that worrying is a huge waste of time. Things are going to turn out as they should and it’s usually better than you could ever expect. At the beginning of this year, it was hard to find gigs. I wasn’t very confident in my skills and had no real drive to improve them. I really started to accept that I might just be a hobbyist VJ and not a working one. Yet,
some-fucking-how a global pandemic suddenly puts the world into lockdown and I am presented with the opportunity to be a VJ and mix visuals for some of my favorite artists…from the comfort of my bedroom. I mean you really cannot make that shit up.
If 2020 taught me anything, it is to expect the unexpected.VJ Kobra
Abby, Electric Hawk: So, what’s next on your radar?
Kobra: For the immediate future, I have a couple live stream sets coming up. One is with Kitana for ‘From the Grave’ stream airing on Twitch on October 31st. And another with Dream Signal for CouchFam on November 9th.
In addition to my VJ work, I’m putting more focus on improving my skills in 3D design so I can offer customized visual packs for artists to use on tours and festivals stops, as well as general VJ packs available for anybody to purchase for their own use.
Aside from that, I have a few more things up my sleeve that I can’t discuss fully. But one of them is a pretty cool surprise that I am beyond excited to announce when I reach 1k on Insta (only 111 visual art lovers away)!
Abby, Electric Hawk: What is one thing you want people to know about being a visual artist?
Kobra: You are not only an artist but a technician. Technology is amazing but also extremely frustrating at times & can throw a wrench in your plans real quick. There are so many weird little issues that you have to troubleshoot yourself because there is no ‘VJ Problems 101’ handbook!
I’ll never forget the time I had to drive all the way across town at 1 am–with work at 7 am–just so my amazing friend could help troubleshoot and fix the audio on ALL FIVE of my sets that were due for a virtual festival the next day. Good times.
Abby, Electric Hawk: What advice do you have for other rising women in the industry?
Kobra: I try to look at my femininity as an advantage and would suggest other rising women in this scene to do the same. The VJ scene is a huge boys club. Having that ability to bring unique experiences and perspectives you’ve gained as a woman into your art can be game-changing. Don’t ever conform to fit the scene. Stay true to yourself and make art that brings you joy. I promise you’ll find you stand out, and easily find people who think it’s fucking dope!
We are so grateful for VJ Kobra, all visual artists, and all womxn in the electronic music scene. We also happen to be simps for SubDocta–and we have an EXCLUSIVE CLIP of his set with Queen Kobra, just for you.
BONUS!! One of our FAVORITE sets from Harmony was a downtempo collaboration between DMVU and VJ Kobra. Watch it in its entirety HERE:
As a reminder: Kobra came up with these visuals on the fly. Literally incredible.
Next time you’re in the chat, be sure to express your thanks to both the DJ and the VJ. Be on the lookout for the next edition of our Visual Arts series!
If you’re looking for a solid playlist to follow? Keep up with our weekly Spotify Playlist, Fresh Hunts. Whether it’s the newest VJ Kobra, all your other favorite artists, some old school, or underground—we just want you to hear it.
And don’t forget to use your voice this November. Head over to Headcount to check your status and find other resources. Vote, and while you’re sharing new music, encourage your friends to vote too!