SXSW is about many things. Taking a well-deserved, sunny break from a long and frigid winter. Enjoying day upon day of music and film. Running into old friends. Drinking margaritas. But more than anything – the essence of SXSW, if you will – is about discovery.
The artists, of course, all make the annual pilgrimage to Austin with the hope of being discovered. There are thousands of them. But it’s the audience that does the discovering. And so I present Connan Mockasin, who stands to be one of the most discovered artists of this year’s festival.
Imagine a helium–voiced Barry White – if he’d been raised in LA hotels in the early 80s by Syd Barrett – who takes sartorial guidance from such characters as Luke Skywalker. Needless to say, Mockasin is on his own planet, and he makes it look easy.
A native of Te Awanga, New Zealand, he’s been turning heads since he first released his debut, Please Turn Me Into The Snat and his 2011 follow-up single, Forever Dolphin Love. They were both whimsical, psychedelic rides through his drowsy, dreamy and ultimately seductive musical vision, and gained kudos from Aussie dancefloor-pop tastemakers Cut Copy. This year’s Caramel, however, upped the ante – in the romance department that is – see “It’s Your Body: Parts 1–5” that make up nearly the entirety of the album, not to mention album closer, and, erm, climax,”I Wanna Roll With You.” Now on an American label, the buzzy Mexican Summer, we all have the great fortune to see him play live.
His band, now a finely–tuned machine, appear to be telepathic as they respond to Mockasin’s eccentric, and very of-the-moment orchestrations – be it a hand motion or a sidelong glance. They’re ready to out-slink the outright slinkiness of this recorded work, and the result is a live experience that is nothing short of revelatory.