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Connan Mockasin

Connan Mockasin

Interview — Mohamed Sqalli
Photography — Jean-Baptiste Sinniger

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Connan Mockasin is back with a new album and a lot of humor. He told us about Caramel, Manchester and stand-up comedy while enjoying a giant plate of cheese.

Hi Connan, welcome to France.  Can we say you have a special relationship with our country?

I do. With eating bread and cheese especially. When I put up my first record, France was the first country that liked what I was doing and wanted to me to come and play shows. So, it was like a home in a strange way. I tried to explain it and I guess it’s because the French aren’t told what they should like musically. To me, the French have this rare quality of knowing what they like. It’s brilliant.  What a nice country to be liked in.

 

Connan Mockasin

 

Congratulations for your second album, Caramel. Can you tell us about the circumstances in which this album was created?

It was in a boring hotel in Tokyo. I like Japan, I like Tokyo and I like hotels. I always enjoy being in a hotel because I use to get ideas in them. I’m not so comfortable in studios, there are often too many options. I’m not completely against doing it but I find it more exciting when a limited according setup. The album was totally recorded in the hotel, before being mixed in Manchester. But as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t do anything in a studio for this album, and the one before it too.

What were the influences that inspired you the very groovy vibes we can find in Caramel?

I first found the name of the record, Caramel. It found that it sounded very much like a record name. Even if it may have already been used, I never checked. I wanted to make a record that would sound like the word Caramel. I can’t explain it more than smooth and sugary music.

Was Serge Gainsbourg’s Melody Nelson an influence too?

In a weird way, it’s probably always an influence. It’s brilliant. I like short albums and it is. It has reoccurring themes and I love that. Now you have iTunes, and I think it’s wrecking albums. It brings you to consider songs separately. Records don’t mean anything anymore for most people. It has become, quite sadly just a collection of songs for many.

 

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Besides these musical similarities with Serge Gainsbourg, you also share in my opinion this very special tendency of playing an ironic seducer, for example in the video of I’m The Man That Will Find You. Where does this come from?

It’s always great to have fun when there is no danger about it. There is a lot of irony in this album and this is part of it.

It’s funny because when you hear Caramel for the first time, you really have the impression of a major break with your first album Forever Dolphin Love. But after a few listens, it appears that there is some kind of continuity between the two records. In fact, you’re still chasing love, but you’re using different techniques and aesthetics to look for it. Are you ok with this interpretation?

Yeah. I’m really ok with that. That’s good, I’m glad you understood it this way. I mean, who wants to do the same thing again? I couldn’t even if I tried. While we were making the video for I’m The Man That Will Find You, we were laughing about the fact that in this video, like in the one of Forever Dolphin Love, I was chasing a person.

Can you tell us about Te Awanga, the place you come from in New Zealand, and the way it influenced you as an artist?

Of course, it’s a village of maybe 200 people. It’s very small, just by the ocean. It has good wine, good fishing, good surfing … It’s rather to tell if it influenced my music. Maybe the omnipresence of the ocean had an influence on it.

 

Connan Mockasin

 

I heard you were living in Manchester now, a city that, some say, is mostly about beer, football and music. How did you find yourself in that environment?

My friend and manager had that room for me. Then I was away for a while to make the record.  I don’t stay too much in Manchester in general, to me it’s a quiet place when I can stay when I’m not touring or recording.

Manchester is one of the most outstanding cities in the world in terms of music. But do you still believe in its ability to provide great bands again?

Maybe. I don’t know. Not just in Manchester, but around in Leicester, Nottingham … the Midlands and up to Manchester. For example, I’m thinking about a label called Tasty Morsels that releases really neat music.

I read that you were interested in doing stand-up comedy. Is it true or is it another joke from Connan Mockasin?

I think it’s nice to be put out of your area of comfort. You got to try new stuff. It can be so boring to always play music the same way. Stand-up comedy would be exciting even if I’m sure I would be terrible! But, it would be good for me. I don’t mind if I get booed …

 

connanmockasin02

 

You seem to have a very strong sense of self-mockery…

Maybe it’s because I’m Irish! My dad came to New Zealand as a child on a boat with his parents on a seven weeks trip. We’re quite known for not taking ourselves seriously. The whole music industry is made of jokes anyway …

On your show, you sing in a bed, next to a lovely Japanese woman. Are you reproducing John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Hair peace, Bed peace” scheme?

Haha. No, it’s not a hippie thing. I just try to recreate the hotel scene in which I created the record. As I said, it was made in a hotel room in Tokyo in which a lot of friends came to visit me, and this is what inspired this part of the show. 

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