Features Connan Mockasin: ‘For Six Weeks, I Slept On A Park Bench’

Shunning ups and downs for a sticky sugar sound, Connan Mockasin’s surprised he’s got this far.

“I’d probably be working on one of the vineyards.” Connan Hosford, better known as Connan Mockasin, has just retired to his hotel room after dinner and is predicting just how differently his life would have panned out if he hadn’t had the breakthrough triumph, ‘Forever Dolphin Love’. Thankfully though, instead of being behind the success of one of New Zealand’s finest drops of wine, the native Kiwi has dazzled audiences with his moon glowing rock that is almost as endearing as the man himself.

Mockasin is lethargic at the best of times, but today he is even more so with his dreamy voice explaining that he is “really tired” - something he will have to get accustomed to, as he’ll shortly break out of the refines of his cosy and syrupy bubble to travel in support of his upcoming release. Earlier this year was spent in a rather more relaxed fashion, with a month long stay in a Tokyo hotel room featuring lots of “sleepovers”, whilst he was bringing his colourful imagination to life in the shape of second album, ‘Caramel’.

Hailing from the tiny beachside town, Te Awanga, Connan’s rise to the elite ranks of psychedelic eccentrics has been astonishing, and one he can thank Mum Mockasin for. “I made ‘Forever Dolphin Love’ because my Mum told to me make a record,” he explains in an appreciative tone. The process though, wasn’t something that Mockasin was altogether comfortable with. “I had never made a record before, I didn’t really know how, so I just made that record.” With long strands of blonde hair that look like they have sand lodged deep in their roots, you would be right to think that during this time, Connan was more used to beach dwelling and catching waves. In a typically laidback drawl, he says: “Kelly Slater is my favourite surfer”.

Just like Slater is a master of the ocean, back then, Connan was yet to realise that he was the mastermind behind a starry-eyed and eerie debut album that had amazingly been captured in one take. The decisive step in his quest for attention came in 2006, when he moved to the less exotic climes of London. “For about six weeks, I slept on a park bench,” he explains in a tone that somehow manages to make it sound like it wasn’t a big deal at all. “I thought it was going to be easy to find somewhere to live and get a job. I didn’t have any money – well I ran out of it very quickly – so it was hard.”

Conjuring up the image of an outlandish looking New Zealander adopting one of London’s benches as his new bed may be a little amusing. But, without this crazy idea, rest assured, Connan would probably be harvesting grapes right now. After a few years of living in England, his album ‘Please Turn Me Into the Snat’ was released by Erol Alkan’s label Phantasy. A year later and it was re-released as ‘Forever Dolphin Love’, with The Horrors, Jarvis Cocker and Radiohead singing their praises to the new boy wonder of psych. True to his bizarre mind, ‘Caramel’ is a genre bending album glued sweetly together by its name. “I first picked the name because I liked the word ‘Caramel’, so I made all of the music based around that. Well, what I thought caramel would sound like, so this album is my taken on that word.” As peculiar as it may sound that he dreamed up an album based on a confectionary product, the results are wonderful; it’s a comforting, indulgent and lustful record that is extremely moreish.

Despite playing down his successes in a modest and earnest way, Connan has an abundance of ambition. The whole routine of making music in an unusual fashion isn’t where he wants it to stop, as he talks of a desire to think up a quirkier method of performing his songs. “I am looking forward to playing it live. I might even make it into a play or something,” he says, even down the phone line we can detect a glimmer in his eye, “not just play the songs, maybe try and make it more of a show, but I have no idea at the moment.”

Connan Mockasin is a warm, captivating and enchanting character. He would never admit it being the polite and grounded person that he is, but he is becoming a little bit of a genius, if ‘Caramel’ - the dot-to-dot of his weird and wonderful imagination – is anything to go by. Was it intentional that the album sounds so much like heavenly soul music? “Yeah, that is sort of what ‘Caramel’ is like,” he concludes, before purring: “All golden.” Not just an album then, but also a reflection of Connan’s charming personality. A potential vineyard in Te Awanga’s loss and the world’s gain.

Connan Mockasin’s new album ‘Caramel’ is out now via Phantasy.

Taken from the November 2013 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.

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