“That polar bear has no neck. It’s like a sausage with a face on it.” Connan Mockasin, née Tant Hosford, is from Te Awanga, a small beachside town on the North Island of New Zealand. He’s 30 years old, although he looks younger and radiates another time. The cosmic end of the ’60s, or some dimension we don’t know about yet. To say he has an aura about him is not to be melodramatic, and to call that aura ‘otherworldly’ is as accurate as the sausage neck.
For the record, Connan is referring to an actual polar bear, although he is just as likely say something along those lines in an empty room. As Erol Alkan, the man who releases Connan’s space soul through his Phantasy label, says, “He has an amazingly vivid imagination,” and it’s made a fan of Julian Barratt, who during this afternoon will, on a number of occasions, text Connan ahead of them meeting for the first time later today. He’s asked if he can direct Connan’s next video, a first for the Mighty Boosh’s Howard Moon, who is currently rehearsing a new stage show with Noel Fielding a couple of blocks away. Even the artwork for Connan’s debut album, ‘Forever Dolphin Love’, is ripe for the absurdist world of the Mighty Boosh. It features a self-portrait by Connan that looks more like coconut-headed Boosh anti-hero Milky Joe. Connan then spent a year dressed like the painted portrait, his face flaky with white powder.
He’s got an idea for a stage show of his own, where he plans to dress himself and his band in uniform, non descript clothing, and his bassist as a centaur. The bassist – a guy called Nick – will also be under a spotlight. These ideas just come to Connan, and when you ask him how, he can never seem to remember.
The concept behind new album ‘Caramel’ is similarly hazy, featuring the dolphin from Connan’s debut and ‘The Boss’, who is sad because he loves the dolphin, which is leaving. The Boss gets over it and is happy again, but then there’s a car crash. “There’s a story that goes along with it, but it’s really not very good,” Connan dismisses. “If it was a book it would be appalling.”
This morning, having played a one-off, sold-out show in London the night before, Connan awoke to flowers in his hotel foyer, a gift from one of his fervent admirers. He left for an early morning walk where he was approached by two equally farcical characters. The first, he says, was a man who’d been stung by a bee on the top of his head and wanted advice on whether he should go to hospital or not. “I asked him if he was allergic to bee stings and he said no, so I told him he should be alright. I don’t know why he asked me – I mean, do I look like a doctor?”
Next Connan met a young girl who may or may not have left the flowers, and who may or may not have been staking out the hotel all night. She ran across the street and proceeded to tell Connan about how she had come to the show last night and how at the precise moment he played ‘Dolphin Forever Love’ her wristwatch, emblazoned with what else but dolphins, miraculously began working again after years of being broken. Spooky right? Well, how about this – the time was only 2 minutes out! Connan went back to bed.
But yes, the polar bear. It’s big and sausage-like, but it’s nothing compared to the one downstairs. The King’s Head is a very particular members’ club in Dalston, London, an area of town where members’ clubs don’t exist. Its exterior fits right in, but behind the crumbling, sooted pub façade is a zoo of opulent taxidermy. A tiger looms over the island bar downstairs, and a rearing, 12-foot polar bear over club diners on the first floor. We take our place in a meeting room at the top of the stairs, which is completely outrageous. We join two lions and two tigers, a leopard, a panther, a cheetah (I think it’s a cheetah), the polar bear and the heads of two unfortunate zebras protruding from the fireplace. The elephant foot umbrella stand and hooved lamps are hardly worth mentioning. It’s deadly silent and powerfully relaxing. A room of good-looking death, it’s sexy and unnerving at the same time, not unlike Connan’s new record, released next month on November 4.