Born in New Zealand, Connan Mockasin now lives in Tokyo. I met with the nomadic chanteur as he stopped through Los Angeles on the occasion of his international tour. There was only one show scheduled, but the tickets sold so quickly they decided to add two more. The last one felt like a bouquet final, a two-hour victory lap among friends, including John Carrol Kirby, with whom he performed a cover of Whitney’s “I Will Always Love You.” We were introduced at The Lodge Room in Highland Park where he invited us to join for dessert. Mockasin is quite noticeable with his long, platinum hair, big bucket hat and his quintessential John Waters-esque mustache. We talk about the venue where he had been playing the past two nights. He spots my French accent. I tell him that I’m from Bordeaux and we discuss the Southwest of France, mainly the best surf spots. We mention Biarritz and how he would love to live a little south of it, in a very small fishing village called Guethary located in Basque country. It’s a secluded haven also chosen by many French artists, including writer, Frédéric Beigbeder and actor, Vincent Cassel.
It had been five years since Connan Mockasin last released an album. His two previous ones, Forever Dolphin Love (2010) and Caramel (2013) were best described by writer, Daiana Feuer as “sensuous love letters from an alien.” This year’s Jassbusters is Mockasin’s first full-band album. It was recorded live over the course of a week at the legendary Studios Ferber in Paris, best known for hosting France’s most notorious singers like Serge Gainsbourg and Alain Bashung, as well as international enigmas like Nick Cave and Black Sabbath. The album is accompanied by a five-part melodrama film called Bostyn ’n Dobsyn, based on comics and short films imagined by the artist as a teenager. Although very different in nature from the past two albums, Jassbusters remains faithful to Mockasin’s essential recipe: a blend of eccentricity and sensuality. The record starts with a sultry track called “Charlotte’s Thong,” a perfect gateway to an updated sound that is peppered with humorously creepy, yet oddly arousing narratives—a combination that could only be extracted from a vintage porno or a Connan Mockasin song.
AGATHE PINARD: I was supposed to interview you a couple months ago at Desert Daze, but it didn’t happen due to the awful weather conditions and the huge line to get in.
CONNAN MOCKASIN: We almost didn’t get in.
AP: What were you doing when the storm hit and festival security asked everyone to go back to their vehicles?
CM: I’m scared of lightning, so I went to the trailer. It was really nice actually. We opened the curtains and watched the storm.
AP: Yeah, they had to shut down Tame Impala while they were playing.
CM: Some of them kept coming into our room and I kept saying, “Close the door!” because I was scared of the lightning. They were feeling so bad about the fans, so we had a game where you had to have a sip of whiskey every lightning flash. It was really fun.
AP: Your new album is called Jassbusters. Can you explain what a jassbuster is?
CM: It’s a band of schoolteachers who make a record together. I did these home videos when I was a teenager—twenty years ago now. We used to have this thing, Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn. Mr. Bostyn, the teacher, had a band called Jassbusters. It’s basically a band record, because I’ve not done any band records. This is the first. Basically, every band recording is a Jassbuster recording.
AP: What was it like recording with a band for the first time ?
CM: There were four of us recording and it was easy. The thing with a band is that if you’re recording live, you can feel if it’s not working, or if it’s working straight away. It’s a lot quicker. You feel like you can take your time when you’re on your own, but it’s not the same when you’re working with a group of people. Overall, it’s a lot easier. You have other people playing and putting their touch, which is very different from being on your own.
AP: I was curious if “Charlotte’s Thong” was about Charlotte Gainsbourg, since you produced a song for her and toured together?
CM: I did invite her. I told her that she could play on “Charlotte’s Thong,” but that’s about it. That’s just a name, like Jassbuster. We just came up with a name.
AP: You released a five-part series based on comics and short films you made in high school. Can you talk a bit about the concept behind the movie and why you’re doing this now?
CM: I don’t know why now. I just wanted to do it. It’s always been something I enjoy, Bostyn ‘n Dobsyn. I wanted to make a series, but I didn’t even know how to do it. I wanted to make something new again. When I made my first album, Forever Dolphin Love, I didn’t know how to record. So, it was all new. Making an album by yourself you just make a lot of mistakes. I tried to make a series in the same way: without really knowing what I was doing. Sometimes mistakes turn out to be good. When you do it while not being particularly good at it, you do it in your own way.
AP: The story is about a music teacher and his student. Where did that idea come from?
CM: I don’t even remember. We just thought it was great—Mr. Bostyn, thinking his student, Dobsyn is a girl, and calling him Josie. It starts a whole world of deceit.
AP: Is it in any way autobiographical?
CM: I hope not. I play Mr. Bostyn, so I hope not. Although he is not necessarily bad. Dobsyn is pretty bad later on.
AP: Matt Correia from Allah-Las asked me to ask you about your favorite color.
CM: That’s a great question. I don’t know. I don’t have a favorite color really.
AP: Can you talk about dolphin love? What is it and what makes it forever?
CM: I was making music at my parent’s in New Zealand. I was just driving around and I went to my friend Brim Dog’s house. He lives further south on the beach. We were around an outdoor fire, quite drunk from red wine, and I remember singing “Forever Dolphin Love.” That’s just how it happened. Maybe it was because the ocean was right there by Brim Dog’s. I don’t know.
AP: You’ve been working on the score of a surf movie called, Self Discovery for Social Survival. What was the experience of working on that project like?
CM: I basically just wanted to go surfing with my friend Andrew.
AP: It was filmed in several locations. Mexico, the Maldives…
CM: He and I went to Nicaragua. It was a filmed trip with all the directors and stuff. I thought that was gonna be the end of it. So, I talked to my record label, and they got really into it, and ended up taking Andrew and I to Iceland. We went surfing there with some of our favorite surfers. The whole idea was to mix surfers and musicians.
AP: Yeah, I’ve heard that Stephanie Gilmore, who’s the seven-time world champion, was on the trip.
CM: She’s so great, and she’s winning at the moment, so she could win an eighth! We became friends and she takes me surfing sometimes. It’s so great to watch her surf in real life. We came back from the trip and made the music in New York, just for the Iceland segment.
AP: How was the trip to Iceland? The water must have been freezing.
CM: Yeah, it was late October as well, so it was getting cold. They put you in these wetsuits that cover most of your face, but I’m really claustrophobic and I couldn’t get out of it by myself. They had to help. You feel it on your face if you go under water. It stings like acid water.
AP: You tend to blur the lines between humor and beauty in your music videos. Can you talk about how you conceptualize a video, like “I’m the Man, That Will Find You,” for example?
CM: I haven’t done a music video in quite a long time. I didn’t direct those videos. I had friends direct them. I do have a little bit of say, of course. With “I’m the Man, That Will Find You,” my only input was rolling down those stairs. The rest of it was directed.
AP: So, you normally just ask a friend with a sense of taste you can trust?
CM: Yes, but I would love to do it myself now. Back then, I would get friends to do it. I did one with my friends Fleur & Manu in the forest just outside of Paris for that song called “Faking Jazz Together.”
AP: Tonight, just like the past two nights, you will play ‘in the round,’ on a stage in the middle of the audience. Can you talk about how this format has been working out so far?
CM: It’s been great. I’ve done this before when I was playing with a band and there weren’t so many people. We’d move instruments on the floor and play in the middle of the audience. I’ve always loved it. It’s nice for people to see, and there is a good atmosphere. I’d love to do it more, but most venues don’t really allow it. But these past nights in LA have been so good. I’ve really enjoyed it.
FAIRE are very serious about not taking themselves seriously. Their shows are infused with a raw improvisation that makes every performance a completely unique experience. They just play with the vibe given by the audience and then do their best to push the limits of that relationship. The images from their shows speak for themselves, filled with overflowing energy and rage. Romain, Raphael and Simon make up the French trio Faire, a band emerging from the Parisian underground music scene. Self-labelled as “Gaule Wave,” the band mixes opposing sounds, from ‘80s synthesizers, to punk power chords, to the lyrical stylings of pop chanson.
We had a chance to chat with Faire just before their highly anticipated second show in Los Angeles. They play tonight at Madame Siam in Hollywood, catch them live at 10:00pm for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
AGATHE PINARD: First of all, how did you all meet?
FAIRE: We met at school, we were about 12 years old. There we were, the only guys listening to rock, wearing leather and boots. So we easily found a subject of discussion.
PINARD: What’s your first experience with making music?
FAIRE: A basement in the center of Paris where we experimented with lots of anger, love, a few cries and lots of laughs. We took it very seriously, being musicians. We were rehearsing between class at least twice a week and started playing live shows pretty early on.
PINARD: Have any of you ever had any ambitions outside of music?
FAIRE: Not really, except the fact that we love to customize/make clothes, and making videos, drawing, painting and writing.
PINARD: What’s the meaning behind the name Faire? Did you have any other names you were also considering?
FAIRE: First we thought about “la GAULE” which is the old name for France and it also means to have a boner. It ended up becoming the name of our music: “Gaule Wave.” But we wanted to explore a maximum of different musical horizons. We thought that with FAIRE (meaning “to make” or “to do”), we could mix all kinds of music that we like, surfing between rock, yéyé, Eastern music, trap, techno and more. Also it’s a simple way for us to make music without thinking too much, and just go with the flow of our spontaneous ideas, like a manifestation of sorts.
PINARD: Do you have any major musical influences?
FAIRE: Yes! We started playing music together while listening to Led Zeppelin, Steppenwolf… and the Motown Records really inspired us when we were younger. Later we let go of the stigma that we had of drum machines and were really inspired by ‘80’s cold wave, and especially Martin Rev of Suicide. French Pop culture influences us too, think Michel Polnareff, or all the old ‘50s songs with those incredible lyrics. Swinging by the US, people like R. Stevie Moore just transcend us. But for real, the list is really long, we’re not even talking about all the African, Indian or South American influences!
PINARD: Are there any non-musicians who inspire your work?
FAIRE: We met the incredible Charlie Le Mindu, the French hair designer who also does exhibitions of clothes made with an infinity of hair. His work is absolutely amazing.
PINARD: What’s your personal process of creating an album like?
FAIRE: We like to be really isolated in a countryside or on a rooftop in Mexico, as we did with “Le Tamale.” Notice that we never really put out any albums, it was only EPs that we self recorded in our computer. Now we are preparing the recording of our first album, which we want to record live with someone capable to catch our live energy, because that’s where our potency lies.
PINARD: You seem to like using old women’s names as titles, Mireille, Sisi, Christiane, Marie-Louise, is there any particular reason?
FAIRE: We just love our grandmother’s stories and the era that they lived.
PINARD: You released a very psychedelic video clip of Noizette a month ago, what’s the story behind it?
FAIRE: Some student from l’ECAL, an art school in Switzerland, asked for a song to do a video clip, then pitched the idea and we liked it! For the first time we just let them do what they wanted and received 6 different versions. We had the luxury of choosing the one we thought was the best. This battle between our faces and the Prince was exactly the kind of trip we liked.
PINARD: Is there a show you gave that you will remember forever?
FAIRE: Wow, when we released our EP « Le Tamale » in a Parisian bar people were so excited, and it was so overcrowded that the public was making waves falling down every two minutes on the little three-by-three-meter stage that they kept us from playing long. All our machines got disconnected and fucked up at the same time (it was also because of some spilled beer.) And we had 20 kilos of confetti flying around everywhere. It was two years ago, but we still have some in our synthesizers. It was definitely the best show/non-show.
PINARD: You’re all super wild and insanely energetic on stage, how do your rehearsals differ from your live performances?
FAIRE: (Laugh) that’s a good question. We take it really easy and chill, the exact opposite of our live shows.
PINARD: How do your audiences affect the performances?
FAIRE: We started being crazy on stage after some shows in Mexico where people were getting totally crazy, and thanks to them we took that energy, and it morphed us into these uncontrollable beasts. Now even if the crowd is really chill we get into them with all our passion and love, and push them to dance by jumping into the pit.
PINARD: What was it like to play in LA for the first time?
FAIRE: Really great, people were really into the fact that we got the mosh pits going. They weren’t accustomed to it or prepared for it at all. So we were kind of exotic with our craziness.
PINARD: How was your experience with the city of LA, the American culture?
FAIRE: Pretty interesting, lots of cool vibes and a beautiful mix of various world cultures over there. People were lovely with us, and we met great artists there. Also Simon’s dad is from LA so we had a good introduction to the city.
PINARD: It’s been more than a year since the release of your last EP, C’est L’été, what are you working on at the moment? You said there is a new album in the making?
FAIRE: Absolutely, we are now preparing new songs to record our first album. It will be released next year, but the date is still a secret.
PINARD: What are you listening to right now? What was your summer ’18 soundtrack?
FAIRE: Escape-isms, HMLTD, Lil Pump and les Charlots.
Photographs by Summer Bowie
Connan Mockasin is the musician, composer and record producer from New Zealand who collaborated with MGMT, James Blake and Mac DeMarco. After his latest collaboration with Sam Dust on Soft Hair (2016), Mockasin is back this year with a new and third record called Jassbusters accompanied with a five-part film. The album is said to have been recorded live in less than a week in Paris at Studios Ferber during the summer of 2016 while Bostyn ’n Dobsyn, the film, allegedly took 20 years to develop and only took 10 days to shoot in Los Angeles.
“Con Conn Is Impatient” is the first single from the record and comes with a video clip from the film in which Mockasin plays fictional music teacher, Bostyn, and his friend Blake Pryor plays the music student, Dobsyn. Seeing them both in the video wearing what you could only define as very bad wigs is pretty funny but the song is perfectly silky smooth and mellow. You can watch the video above.
Below is the second single from the record, Charlotte’s Thong. One might wonder if the title refers to Charlotte Gainsbourg as Mockasin composed a song for her 2011 album, Stage Whisper, before going on tour with her. I’ll leave you with that impeccable, smooth as peach skin, nine-minute track.
Assigned by editor For Flaunt.com
Nestled in the Griffith Park hills, the Greek Theater seems like a perfect fit for LA-based band The Neighbourhood. California native, the group is composed of vocalist Jesse Rutherford, guitarists Jeremy Freedman and Zach Abels, bassist Mikey Margott, and drummer Brandon Alexander Fried. Their recent self-titled album released earlier this year has been subject to bad press review but the band can count on the generous support of their fans, the hoodlums. “Scary Love”, the first single from the album reached over 3 million views on Youtube.
Unfamiliar with the band’s sound, I start to do more online digging and it looks like The Neighbourhood’s music is hard to label, from alternative rock to hip-hop to urban pop. I’ve seen many attempts at describing their genre-crossing style. Arriving at the show, I didn’t know what to expect but a few minutes in and it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a rock show. The lead singer, Jesse Rutherford, used a voice-transforming microphone to obtain that autotune-like vocals during the whole performance which kind of took me by surprise, I’ve seen playback singers before but never live autotuned ones. I guess you can easily feel like an outsider at a Neighbourhood performance, the crowd is actually more of a big mass of young fans singing, sorry I mean screaming, every word along with Rutherford, sometimes even covering his amplified voice during the hits. After the few first notes of every song, a wave of screaming follows. The scene is a mix of screams, Rutherford’s seductive moves and more screaming. Rutherford swings by a vintage microphone hanging from the scaffolding, he flies above the first rows and I wonder if he is going to jump. He doesn’t. You can tell the show comes to an end as the band is blasting their more popular tunes. Is there any song those kids don’t know all the lyrics to? It feels almost rude to not sing along but here I am, a quiet outsider surrounded by young people having the best time of their lives.
Photographed by Nicole Busch
Written for Flaunt.com
Los Angeles-based, rock ‘n’ roll band Easy formed in early 2017 by Josh Landau from The Shrine, pro skateboarder Don “Nuge” Nguyen, Run The Jewels’ producer Wilder Zoby, Amoeba Records’ Jordan Jones and Ben Brown on synth, debuts a video for “Nothing New” shot by Chris Blauvelt. The track comes off the group’s debut EP ’Nothing New’, released earlier this year.
The 16 mm film footage is inspired by Gus Van Sant’s film ‘Gerry’ intro scene; Matt Damon and Casey Affleck in a lone car rolling for it feels like forever into the desert, into emptiness, before stepping out of the car in the middle of nowhere. ‘Nothing New’ captures this sense of evasion except this time, it’s the beautiful French model and actress Camille Rowe that we observe. Camille had never really driven before but somehow it feels easy to watch her roll away in her total red outfit matching Landau’s. “Nothing New is about feeling someone you love slipping away into a downward spiral out of your control and dealing with not being able to help them anymore,” explains Landau.
“Nothing New” arrives as the band preps for a hometown show Friday September 7th at The Echo. The evening features some of the best of LA’s current crop of musicians including The Entire Universe, Crush (Cole & Zumi from The Black Lips), DJ set by Blake Anderson & Atiba Jefferson.
Get your tickets here !
Easy will also play in New York City on October 5th at the Thrasher x Vans “Death Match” party.
Interview done for Flaunt.com
After nearly 20 years of silence the composer Midori Takada reappeared to present a collaboration with the musician Lafawndah for a Kenzo produced film, Le Renard Bleu. Directed by Partel Oliva the film showcased krump artist Qwenga hypnotically dancing against the beautiful score. Now a vinyl of this ethereal soundtrack has just been release on K7. In honor of its release we got to spoke to Lafawndah about the project which saw the old and new worlds of avant garden colliding.
How did you feel like working with Midori Takada knowing she hadn’t release any music in almost 20 years?
Anxious, excited, honored, blocked, freed.
How did the collaboration come along ?
Partel Oliva, the filmmakers and creative directors at Kenzo at the time asked me if I’d be down to collaborate on a music piece with Midori Takada, which would be use as the point of departure for a film they would write around and about the music. I choked and when I was back to life, I said yes.
You wrote the lyrics, what is your personal process of writing like?
Depends. But for this project in particular there was a lot of special circumstances. One of them is, I don’t really sing on other people’s tracks. Just because what makes me wanna sing is to compose the music first. So I was a bit nervous about that. I also have never worked with someone who is such an inspiration to me. Also, she is the one who decided about the theme and asked me to write about it which is also unusual for me. Then, Partel Oliva are my favorite directors and the idea of making a piece of music for them to write a film was a lot of pressure. So I started reading a bunch of things about the fox in the Dogon mythology and also in Japanese folk and started to find a thread I was interested in, a point of view for the story and a feeling. Then I asked my partner Brian, to come help me cause I was blocked from all these impressive mountains I was surrounded by. He unblocked me and we wrote the lyrics together.
The title of the film is Le Renard Bleu meaning The Blue Fox in French, can you explain what does this fox represent?
Takada san is very interested in the Dogon mythology and in particular in the figure of the fox. People have different interpretation of it. For me it’s the good chaos. It’s the one who comes and destroys everything in order to start better, stronger, more intentionally. It’s also a divination figure, the one who knows things we don’t because it lives between two worlds so it can be used as an advise giver. It’s just a different kinda wisdom you know, the chaotic wisdom.
What are you working on next?
Music more music more and more music, a film, a documentary, a performance, a recipe book, a line of cosmetics, a dance movement. a lot of exciting things coming your way!
Le Renard Bleu by Midori Takada and Lafawndah is available on vinyl nowW
Photo courtesy of Kenzo
Written for my Entertainment Journalism Class taught by Adam B. Vary, senior film reporter for BuzzFeed News.
If you ever have the chance to go to Paris, you would probably go see the Eiffel Tower and the Champs Elysée but that’s when you wonder through the smaller Parisian streets that you eventually stumble upon the most unique places. Well, this is what I want to show you, not the Eiffel Tower of french music that you already know of like Daft Punk, Justice and Phoenix but little gems of french music, the french touch you never knew you needed.
Those artists are born and evolving through the more alternative scene, outside of the general commercial canon.
Paradis – An Ode to French Language
If you like the sound of french language, this the band for you. Electro french bands are, for most of them, extremely reluctant to using their mother tongue in their song, but Paradis reaches perfection mixing a flawless spoken french and pop-house music. It is hard to resist to the elegant and melancholic sound.
Agar Agar – The Disco Duo
This one is my personal favorite and it should be your favorite too if you like to dance. The electro-pop duo is digging into 80’s disco sound and it sublimated by the suave voice of Clara. They are undoubtedly the new generation of the french touch following the precedent one that consisted of Daft Punk, Laurent Garnier or Sebastien Tellier. “Prettiest Virgin” is about a teenage girl who desperately wants the attention of her crush at a party but is too shy to make a move. Can you relate yet ?
Flavien Berger – The Machine Man
Flavien Berger defines himself as a machine man, a musician whose inevitable extension would be his computers. His creation has always been experimental. He started making music in his bedroom with his playstation 2 and now he is slowly starting to get renown within the underground scene. It is a great challenge to sing in french but Flavien Berger mixes skillfully poetry and psychedelia. Let him take you in his futuristic universe.
Norma – The Girl Who Rocks
Norma is a solo artist, she writes her own lyrics but can also play guitar, piano and sing. Her scene name is borrowed from various inspiring women such as Norma Jean Baker, better know under the name of Marilyn Monroe and the character Norma Jennings of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. In her song “ Girl in the City”, Norma is ably denouncing street harassment. She talks about how hard it is for a girl to simply walk peacefully in the street, “ask any girl in the city […] We can never walk alone,” she sings with angry guitar riffs in the background. She also tackles the issue of sexism on the working place when her boss asks her to put some make up on to look more attractive.
Breakbot – The French Jesus of Funk
Breakbot is clearly the most famous one of this list since everybody has heard his “Baby I’m Yours” song, maybe even you, but not directly. In a 100% french scandal, Breakbot accused Bruno Mars of plagiarism. Breakbot said the artist asked him if he could sample “Baby I’m Yours”, to which the answer was no. A few month later was released “Treasure”. I will let you judge by yourself. Beside this, you should really consider adding him to your playlist because he really is, the french Jesus of funk. And by now you should that when I say french I mean electro.