Interview

Connan Mockasin

Connan Mockasin

Monday 9th August, 2010 12:08PM

Connan Hosford has been making a name for himself for nearly a decade in New Zealand. Being feted by the likes of Fat Boy Slim, Lawrence Arabia and Liam Finn might sound impressive and eclectic for the NZ guitar hero, but it has taken a while for him to record and release his debut album Please Turn Me Into the Snat. He's currently based in London, and has ditched his former band the Mockasins. Despite keeping the old name in part, his music has shifted considerably - to almost unclassifiable genres. It's part psychedelic, part blues, part prog. Whatever it is, it is part pretty damn awesome. It's also the best chance to see him perform live given his current New Zealand mini-tour which culminates in Auckland on 27 March.

Following the break-up of Connan and the Mockasins - why did you decide to keep the name Connan Mockasin?

The name Connan and the Mockasins came about because I was sick of changing projects and having to change the name with that. so using my name 'Connan' means I don't have to change that part. I was toying with the idea of using my middle name or last name instead of Mockasin, but I liked the two words I've stuck with more.

Critics have been always trying to categorise your music - is it a frustrating process? What's the silliest way you've been classified?

It's a compliment. the frustrating part is being asked to describe your own music. Silliest way I've been classified is in a Dutch magazine as a 'homosexual bee'.

How important for your career was going over to England? It seemed like you had some really devoted fans in NZ in the early days, but weren't really getting anywhere in NZ's cloistered environment...

Very important, I've really struggled in New Zealand which can be quite frustrating when it's your home country, but since having new New Zealand management recently and with a record out, things seem to be coming together a bit more.

You've been playing for a long time - why did it take so long to get a full album out?

I've been travelling a lot lately and haven't had my own space to record so I've had to rely on other people to let me use their houses to record in when it's convenient for them and myself.

You have a great live reputation - how difficult was it trying to capture your music on record?  Were you conscious of trying to capture your 'live sound' in the studio?

I didn't want it to sound like a live record at all. It was mostly me playing alone and I didn't really want to try and make it sound like a live band.

The album from what I've heard seems quite a bit less raw than your early recorded stuff with the Mockasins - was this a natural progression?

I feel like I have mild progeria which helps. Also this is the first time I've recorded anything myself.

How did you approach Please Turn Me into the Snat? Was there any grand plan with the album?

Yes, I wanted to write and record the album from start to finish, so it hopefully sounds more like an album rather than a collection of songs put in a good order.

Was it a bit ad-hoc given you recorded in a number of different spaces? Was it difficult trying to get a uniform kind of album of sound - or can you tell the differences between the different places? Can the album flow with these different locations?

I didn't know I was going to be recording in several locations when I started. Last year I flew back to New Zealand three times to try and finish the record with a constant sound. I would come back for about a month each time and would end up spending most of the time hanging out with friends which ended up being the most expensive part of the record. 

I was recording through two small machines the whole time, which gave the sound consistency, but I like it that I can hear the difference spaces I recorded in.

You're so renowned with the guitar, does that limit what you can do as a musician? Or at least, what people expect you to be doing as a musician?

Not not at all, I'm not interested in the guitar at the moment and haven't been for about five years now.

Your lyrics get a bit of attention for their surreal nature - is it hard not making them sound too quirky or too forced? Or is the whimsy a key part of it all?

I didn't think much about the lyrics. they were pretty rushed. i'm thinking most listeners have been more imaginative than I have about it.

Did you notice anything scary in the abandoned haunted house in Wellington?

Yeah, some bangs, I got locked in a room, a mirror flew off the wall and I got prodded.

How helpful to this album was working with Liam Finn and Lawrence Arabia - did you pick up a fair bit from the collaborations with them?

The album was pretty much done before the collaborative BARB project with Liam and Lawrence. Lawrence co-produced and engineered three of the tracks on the album, and they are both always really encouraging me.

What was it like being an 'actor' in [the Alexis dos Santos directed film in which Mockasin was an actor] Unmade Beds? See a career change happening?

If i get bored of music I will definitely look into acting.




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