Connan Mockasin

Photography by Olivia Beasley

Despite the ever-mounting buzz for his album Forever Dolphin Love, New Zealander Connan Hosford, aka Connan Mockasin, exudes a humble yet arresting charm atypical to that of a rising star. The musician and artist’s modest demeanor can be accredited to his even-keeled concepts about creating work, which is evident in the purity of his signature sound. Languid reverie imbued in hypnotic instrumentation and bewitching lyricism, Connan Mockasin is somewhere neighboring the land of psychedelic pop, in a district of his own making.

But first, there was Connan and the Mockasins, a ‘60s blues effort in 2006 that brought Hosford and his fellow bandmates to the London scene. The move from New Zealand did not come without its many caveats, however. “We came over homeless actually,” Connan says. “We were very naive. I’d never been overseas before…we didn’t have anywhere to stay, and not enough money, so we slept in parks for six weeks.” Following their London stint, the band eventually disintegrated, and Connan forged forward with his solo endeavors.

I know what I like more now,” Connan says, upon reflection. “I feel more confident. My taste has changed.” And though it had been a trying time, Connan considers his first experience in London a formative one. “You really do have to take risks. Looking back…it was something that had to be done. You can do it when you’re young and you’ve got energy for it. I don’t think I could do that sort of thing again.”

Upon returning to his seaside hometown of Te Awanga post-band breakup, Connan took to crafting his own music, often recording in an old, haunted wooden house, or beneath the eight-meter high ceilings of his parents’ home—whatever seemed to best capture his ideal sound. The final result is his widely praised debut solo album; an abstract epic poem of sorts that champions a child-like vocal timbre and free form, imaginative spirit.

“To be honest I just was being pretty silly with it,” Connan says. “No one wanted to hear what I was working on. So I had no pressure. I could be silly with the voices and just do whatever I liked.”

Connan also feels quite adamantly that a record should not merely be an arbitrary collection of songs. “I wrote and recorded from the start right through to the end. I think rather than putting a whole lot of songs in an order, it should run through. So what I heard or was writing next in my head was what I recorded and worked on. It’s more like a playlist, really, or a ‘Best of.’ Best of that year, or whatever you’re writing.” Rightly so, since his year’s best continues to impress.

And what’s in store for the future? “I’m really becoming more and more interested in film,” Connan says. “At the moment I just don’t have any time. I’d love to try to make a movie and the soundtrack for it as well. I think once my record contract’s up I’ll probably do that.” In watching the 10-minute music video spectacle for his title track “Forever Dolphin Love,” the potential for a successful transition into the scoring or soundtrack realm is indisputable. Shifting from one concentration to the next is of familiar territory to Connan, who considers his painting, drawing and music of similar challenge, with one usually taking hold of his interest more prominently over the others. Thus a foray into film will likely be a natural one, since the possibility of further exploration into his surreal, buoyant music style is rather boundless.

Currently however, Connan continues solo with occasional collaborations with peers. His most recent pairings have included artists Charlotte Gainsbourg, The Avalanches and Late of the Pier’s Sam Dust. But fresh off his tour supporting Warpaint, Connan is ready to return to his own development. After his next shows in London and a few summer music festival performances, Connan is most keen about embarking on the creation of his next album.

“Well, it’s tricky at the moment because I’m touring this current record,” he says with a shy chuckle. “But I’ve been working on it. I’m quite excited about. It’s going to be interesting doing a record with a bit of pressure. It’s a good thing. It’s not a bad problem I don’t think.”

And though he admits it is a daunting leap, Connan also looks forward to expanding to the states. “I played in New York once and that was amazing. There and Paris seem to be the two places I remember playing at where they understood my music straight away. Other cities, you play quite a few shows before they understand what you’re doing. I probably won’t tour the states until the record has come out there, but maybe I could do just a few shows in different cities. I was hoping this year. Fingers crossed.”

We’ll be waiting eagerly for him stateside. Fingers crossed; it’ll be sooner than later.

– Jen Choi