Connan Mockasin: When people say my music's weird, I find it a bit scary

Categories: Q&A
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Connan (rhymes with con man) Mockasin's intimate relationship with his tape machine has yielded some of the gauziest pop psychedelia of late. Last year's Caramel (Mexican Summer) will delight Prince fans with the slinky soul "I'm the Man, That Will Find You" and the pitch-altered pleasure of "I Wanna Roll With You." His approach has earned him tour slots with Radiohead, and he's collaborated with French chanteuse Charlotte Gainsbourg. Hopefully arriving soon is a project titled Soft Hair, which he worked on with Late of the Pier's Sam Eastgate.

In conversation, the New Zealand-bred artist now residing in Europe keeps his cards exceedingly close to his chest. Several of Gimme Noise's inquiries were deflected with "That's a hard question," but when he does open up, Mockasin reveals himself as a thoughtful and sensitive soul. Before tonight's 7th St Entry show, here's Mockasin on car accidents, Lorde, and how boring music fans have become.


Gimme Noise: How does your karaoke persona compare to what you do during a show?
Connan Mockasin: I love karaoke. I think it's pretty much the same. I get more nervous doing karaoke, but I'm also nervous at the start of my shows. It feels like I'm doing a support show at the same time. I've got a couple of standbys, "Gangsta's Paradise" and "Tears in Heaven." If I'm feeling down, probably "Tears in Heaven."

I absolutely love the third section of "It's Your Body" on your album. It sounds exactly like a motorcycle accident sculpted from electric guitar. Have you ever been in an accident?
No, nothing serious. I have been in two car accidents. They were both in the same day. Same car as well. Different car coming the other way. It was within five minutes of each other. It was a slight bit of a jolt.

The technique added some drama to Caramel.
Thank you. You're the first person to say that about that part. I wanted a car wreck in that part of the song because [just before that] they're singing about a car race and a car crash coming up. It was probably my most proud part of the record -- making a car race with a guitar. It was just with the guitar and the tape machine.

When are you satisfied during the creative process?
Once I finish, I find it very difficult to listen to. When I'm working on it, I'm hearing it every day. It's nice, but then it takes a while to do shows and promotions, so it's a completely different thing. I love working on projects, and I'd love to do more. It'd be nice to do that for a long time. I'll probably have time next year.

Have you been exposed to Lorde?
Yeah. I sure have. Good on her. I've heard a song. I hear it quite often in people's cars. I'm not patriotic towards someone just because they're from the same country. It doesn't get me any more excited. It doesn't get me going any less if she wasn't from New Zealand either. It's good on her still. She got me going, but it doesn't get me going.

How about Ariel Pink? How do you feel about other artists using similar experimental techniques?
There's more and more people doing -- people call it weird -- but it's not. I don't find his music, or my music, or Mac DeMarco, weird. Music's so [long pause] over-thought and processed. If you record this way, it's however it comes out. Leave it for a few days and not worry about it. It's just so watered down now. When people hear Ariel Pink or something like that and it's got mistakes or it's got character or personality in there, people call it weird when it's not weird. That's what I think. When people say my music's weird, I find it a bit scary. That shows how boring stuff is. People are just so boring. The majority are just brainwashed sheep.

With everything going on in society, music's far from the weirdest thing going on. It's a touchy topic, isn't it?
It's a strange one. I don't understand. They call you a freak or something. It's strange how boring everything's gotten if that's what's considered weird. I feel really tame. I'm just trying to make as beautiful music as I can. Not weird or freaky. Music's got this... I wish I could go away and just make stuff. Whether it comes out or not, you're making it. As long as you think it's good.

Connan Mockasin. With Kirin J. Callinan and Andrew Broder. 8 p.m., Thursday, May 8 at 7th St. Entry. Info.

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