Soft Hair is the sublime musical union of Connan Mockasin and Sam Eastgate aka LA Priest and former frontman of Late Of The Pier. With music as smooth and sensuous as their name promises, their self-titled debut album is finally getting released today, the fine follicled duo having first begun working on it over seven years ago.
Full of languid melodies and sugar sweet vocals, the album feels startlingly contemporary considering how long it took to get released. Still, it’s a case of better late than never as with the two artists having both moved on in the ensuing years, the album is not likely to have been missed were it not for Mockasin and Eastgate’s insistence it be released.
As Mockasin says though, they had to put it out while they still had hair, which their promo images show they are in no short supply of. Their luscious locks on full display, the duo have already dropped a lead single The Lying Has To Stop, along with an accompanying wild and debaucherous video.
Speaking to Mockasin ahead of the album’s release, the wonderfully weird New Zealander was all too happy to discuss the album, its sexuality or lack thereof and his own preference in chemicals.
Music Feeds: I have to ask about the name, can you tell me where that came from?
Connon Mockasin: We were at a small party in London together, Sam and I, and this woman said, “both you boys have such soft hair.” So we kind of looked at each in that moment, and we both just sort of thought, “well, let’s start a band called Soft Hair.” That’s pretty much it.
MF: You do both seem to have very wonderful and rich soft hair.
CM: Well we had to put it out while we still actually had hair.
MF: There seems to be a strong sense of humour underlying the project.
CM: Well we both love to make each other laugh. But we do like the music, and it’s not jokey to us. When we’re doing it, it’s serious, but we do like making each other laugh. I feel like boys just wanna have fun you know.
MF: There’s also a lot of sensuality and sexuality in the music too, is that a case of art imitating life?
CM: I don’t see it as being sexy at all, but that’s me saying that. But I’ll take it. I just do it you know, and I don’t really think about it. I can see what you are saying in terms of my last record Caramel as it’s got an R’n’B feel to it because that’s what I felt like a record called Caramel would sound like. And I do like a lot of smooth sort of music, and I like playing bass and guitar and playing something that’s slow and relaxing. I’m not hyperactive, so maybe that’s where that comes from. I’m not into things that are fast and tense and loud, I like things that take their time, in general and not just in music. I’m not a cocaine man. I’m more of a marijuana and red wine man. Light marijuana too, the weak stuff not the hard stuff.
MF: There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for things taking their time these days, and a lot of stuff that is slower and less fast paced seems to cop a lot of criticism.
CM: I feel like I’ve had so many nice things said and written about me recently, but earlier in my career I had a lot of nasty things said about me. So I’m pretty hardened to it. It doesn’t bother me. Unless it’s someone really close to you and they say it’s really boring. So I don’t really worry about criticism, they usually come around a few years later anyway. Everyone has different tastes and it’s not a competition.
MF: Do you feel lucky you learned to ignore the critics early on?
CM: Yeah I feel really lucky. Once you realise that you can do whatever you like and it doesn’t matter it’s a lot easier. It’s just music, you’re not hurting anyone so it’s fun. People can only say stuff and it doesn’t matter. Obviously it’s nicer when people aren’t saying nasty things about you though.
MF: Working with Sam on this album do you both work like that, focusing on what you like and ignoring any potential criticism?
CM: I find Sam great to work with. What was really attractive about working with Sam is that he’s not there showing me all this different music that he likes, he just focuses on making something that he wants to hear that isn’t out there, or that he doesn’t know of at least. We both work very similarly in that respect and I think that’s why we ended up becoming attracted to each other musically. It was such a long time ago now, but in a weird way even though it might be seven years old, now might be a better time for this record to come out than seven years ago. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it, people might not like it, but I feel like it’s a really good time for it now.
MF: I was surprised when I found out it was seven years old.
CM: Me too when I hear it. I’ve been listening to it again recently as part of getting it mastered, and listening to it again was great. I feel quite distant from it too, I can’t quite remember all the details of how we did it. I don’t feel so close to it and it doesn’t feel like me, which is nice.
MF: A lot of musicians say they can’t listen to their own stuff, if that the case with you?
CM: Absolutely after releasing stuff. I’ve only put out two records but both times you’d be working on them, you’d hear them a lot, too much, and then once it was released I found it very difficult to listen to it again. I feel like I’m somehow listening to it through everybody else’s ears and it makes me too uncomfortable. So yeah it’s a strange thing.
MF: Is it the same with Soft Hair?
CM: I’ll let you know at the end of the month when the record comes out but I don’t think so. I don’t think it’ll be so intense because I can kind of put the blame on Sam a bit as well if someone says they don’t like it. I can just say that’s his fault you know. We share the load.
MF: I love the video for the lead single ‘The Lying Has To Stop’, and you and Sam seemed to have a really great time in it. Do you both enjoy the process of making videos?
CM: It depends. Usually, in the past, I’ve found a lot of music videos kind of stressful. There is such a time limit and everyone is stressed and I don’t like doing things in public either. I don’t like feeling like a busker forcing things on people who haven’t come to watch a concert on the street. I’ve enjoyed some, when they’re not too scripted or anything like that, but overall I feel like I don’t get excited about doing videos. But I did enjoy doing the Soft Hair one because we pretty much just had a party. We got a beautiful 35mm camera and had a party and that’s it.
MF: Was it fun getting in the shower with Sam?
CM: I didn’t actually get… Oh I did hop in the shower at the end didn’t I? Yeah that was nice and quick that whole thing took about 15 mins. Which is how I like.
MF: You’ve got a reputation as an amazing live performer. Are there plans to put a Soft Hair live show together? Or any plans to tour your solo stuff again?
CM: I haven’t been playing a lot, I’ve been spending the last year and a half just having some time for myself and just having a life and doing my own things to get excited about and making music. It’s nice to not be traveling or playing all the time and I don’t think it’s that healthy to be playing all the time. In saying that though I’ve had enough time off and I’m looking forward to doing some live shows again, whether it be with Sam or me touring again on my own.
MF: Any new work we can expect in the near future?
CM: Not this year. I’m working on some stuff but I’m not going to talk about them until they’re finished, cos it might change.
Soft Hair’s self-titled debut is out today.