connan mockasin filmed a melodrama in a hollywood hair salon
'Bostyn 'n Dobysn' is a five-part series accompanying his new album, 'Jassbusters.'
Photography Nazar Khamis.
New Zealand-bred musician Connan Mockasin is releasing his latest album Jassbusters today with a five-part melodrama called Bostyn 'n Dobsyn.
Always an outsider artist — he’s self-taught in every new project he takes on — Mockasin and a small group of friends and family recently took over a vacant hair salon in Hollywood where, in the span of a month, they built and painted sets, created costumes, wrote, directed and acted in the musician’s latest feat. It's Mockasin's first publicly released film, and will be played live.
i-D caught up with Mockasin in Japan, where he’s recently moved, to chat about his process.
You played music when you were young?
I started playing guitar when I was about ten years old. And there were four of us in our band and we were trying to come up with a name. My dad suggested we call ourselves the Four Skins because we had four skins on our drum kit — and of course we didn’t know what the other meaning was. So I played guitar all day for about two years and then I stopped. I still only play now if I’m recording or playing live.
You initially moved to London to pursue music, why was that?
I didn’t see a future in New Zealand. It’s very small. It’s pretty much impossible to survive there unless you’re doing what you’re told. And I really wanted to play music and visit different countries. And I was in London to do that but left because I was disillusioned with the whole industry. So I went home and my mum told me I had to make a record. But I was brainwashed and I didn’t know anything about recording. I said that I’d need an engineer, a studio, a producer and she told me to just make something for myself, or for her.” So then I got really excited that I could make anything that I liked. That’s when I made my first record, Forever Dolphin Love.
You’re an Outsider Artist in that you create things without having any schooling. I’m fascinated by that idea. A lot of the artists I ask will say art school was beneficial for them because they were learn about the industry, are able to use facilities and materials and because of the community that they built while at school. But I also find it very limiting because it can really focus their creative output instead of broadening it.
I can’t really speak because I’ve not been to any school apart from high school and that was not good for the art. You know, if you’re going art school, you’re paying for it anyway; you could just rent a space and buy the materials on your own.
Haha right? So tell me about Bostyn 'n Dobsyn.
For years when I was growing up, my next-door neighbor and my two brothers, we made these comics and short films of this teacher, Bostyn and his student, Dobsyn. My neighbor, Blake Pryor always played the student Dobsyn and I always played Bostyn. Jassbusters was Bostyn’s band with other music teachers. I’ve never made a melodrama series or a film before and I’ve always really wanted to. I don’t know anything about making a series or a film. So it’s just exciting to do something that you have no idea about. You have it in your head; it’s just figuring out how to recreate it as close as possible. And I wanted to make Bostyn 'n Dobsyn and show it to people. So finally, two years ago I bought broadcast cameras from that same era and rented a hair salon in Hollywood. We all got together, including my girlfriend, Hiromi Oshima and made sets and tried to put it all together.
What was the process like?
We were filming from about nine at night until at least five in the morning because of the traffic. But you know, it’s made me really want to do it again. I’m really excited to show this series.
What did you learn from the experience?
About things like storyboards — I didn’t know the importance of those. I thought they were overrated. I’ve got such a respect for filmmakers. It’s like parents, when you become one, you have a new respect for your own. Everything is surprising.
Tell me about the corresponding album Jassbusters.
I wanted to make something that didn’t compete with anything. I didn’t want it to be attention seeking — just something that’d be nice to put on as a record. I always design my albums to be listened to on vinyl. I know that people listen to music now on laptops and cell phones, but for me it’s not ideal.
I can’t wait to see everything!
That’s why I’m doing this tour. I really love movie theaters and I always meant to play more of them. So this is a great excuse to get to do that. I’m going to screen the first episode and then Jassbusters is going to come on and play a concert. And then I’ll do a Connan Mockasin set. So it’ll be a three-part evening… And then I really want to make a film next.
- connan mockasin