connan mockasin and dev hynes take marfa
The golden boy of psych-pop debriefs us after a week recording in the Texas desert, and shares exclusive photos from his trip.
Photography Hiromi Oshima
Connan Mockasin isn't bound to anything. His most recent album, Caramel, was famously recorded in a hotel room in Tokyo, chosen because of its equidistance between his homes in New Zealand and London. His only goal was to make an album that sounded like caramel.
While others may look to reason for an answer, Connan turns to feeling. Following a residency at Marfa Myths — a festival curated by record label Mexican Summer and Ballroom Marfa, which Connan spent recording with Dev Hynes — he found himself in Los Angeles on the hunt for inspiration. Looking out at the Hollywood Hills, we talked with him about the music industry, life without a phone, and not knowing what comes next.
What are you doing in LA?
Good question — I don't really know. I just arrived the other day, so I'm going to play it by ear. I'm taking the year off from doing shows. I'm kind of bored of doing music at the moment, so I want to do whatever excites me.
Had you been recording before going to Marfa?
No, I've been keeping away from music since I finished the Caramel tour in February. I'm looking at doing an art exhibition next year. I'm also going to go back to London to do a television series with some friends, and I'm doing music for that — that could be another record.
Will you release another album in the future?
Not in the near future. I guess it's the same with all industries, but the music one I know the best. I like music but I don't like what's around it — I can't help but feel a little bit used at times. I still love it though.
What did you work on during your residency at Marfa Myths?
Dev Hynes and I got together to record some songs. We stayed down there for about a week and recorded songs quite quickly. They'll be released on a twelve-inch in August with Mexican Summer.
Did you discuss what you wanted to work on together before going to Marfa?
Not at all, we just turned up. I haven't seen him since last year. Dev and I met years ago in London, before he moved to New York, and we bump into each other every now and then. It was nice to get to make something relaxed; he was lovely to work with.
I read that you don't listen to much music — is that true?
I don't have a phone, a music collection, or an iPod. I travel a lot so I can't carry records. It's not that I don't want to [listen to music], it's just that I don't really. I hear music in my head and if I'm listening to a lot of music that stops happening. There's also so much out there — it's a bit daunting.
Why do you choose not to have a phone?
For so many reasons. I don't like being with people on their phones — I see how it affects people. With things like Instagram, people become obsessed with seeing how many likes they're getting and how many followers they have. I like to have my own life; I don't want to share everything.
What have you been listening to recently?
I've been enjoying Rexy, Ennio Morricone, and Jean Michel Jarre's The Concerts in China — they're really lovely.
You've said your mother was important in releasing your first album — what was the best advice she ever gave you?
When I first moved to London ten years ago, I came back home after a year and was upset with the way things were run in the industry. I started to think about what else I'd want to do. My mom told me not to worry about any of that and make a record.
I started recording it at home when my parents were out and it was really exciting. I had no one that wanted to hear it, so that was really comforting. I was just making it for myself, never thinking it would get released.
What are you excited by now?
Right now, I'm really looking forward to spending time with friends, starting this television series, and painting. Funnily enough, now that I've decided I'm not doing anything it's starting to make me feel more inspired.
Text Benjamin Barron
Photography Hiromi Oshima