Music / Premieres
Video Premiere:
KONG - Cool It Down
Words by James Lynch
Wednesday 28th October, 2020
Today we’ve got the pleasure of sharing the radiant new single and clip from local workhorse Jack Kong - a unique sidestep from his usual garage and punk leanings, ‘Cool It Down’ finds Kong embracing a charismatic rocksteady atmosphere, backed by a joyous, easy-going groove.
Although the music Jack Kong has made in other projects has always relied on some amount of groove as a backbone - be that Gonzo’s agitated stomp, the emphatic swagger of Beans, or even the relaxed lilt of former group Hills Hoist - never has it been brought to the forefront like on ‘Cool It Down’. With Jamaican dance music as a clear reference point, there’s a contagious energy to the track - anchored by a lively pulse that playfully tangles with a spirited bassline and dashes of buoyant guitar, while a sunny keyboard constantly cruises across the scenery.

While the change of pace is a bit of a left-turn for Kong, there’s still that devious gleam in the eye that you’ll recognise from much of his other music. And paired with this leisurely new clip from visual artist Carolyn Hawkins, it’s hard not to get caught up in the joyful giddiness of it all - especially now that the sun’s back out in Melbourne. Might be a good one to pop on in the background while you sip your first pint back, perhaps?

To celebrate the release, we got in touch with Jack and Carolyn to dig into the new track and clip a little further.
TJ: Hey Jack and Carolyn, how’s it going? Having an alright lockdown so far? Best and worst iso ideas you’ve had so far?

Kong: Hey James! It’s been a wild time. Best and worst iso idea was to smoke weed, hail satan and get really into Jamaican music. But nah, if anything I kind of regret not following the lead of others and spending the second lockdown outside of the 5km bubble.

Carolyn: Hello! My iso is going alright… Just kinda over it and missing friends and family a lot, like everyone. I’m not great at keeping in contact with people, especially in the virtual world, so I’ve really dropped off the radar. But that’s been nice in a way. Constant gigs can be a pretty intense social experience, so having a little holiday from that has been a good chance to decompress a bit. But I think I’m definitely ready to re-enter the world now…

Hmmm best iso idea… probably switching off from Instagram for a good three months. That has been realllll nice. Oh and I made a yum tiramisu the other week.

Worst iso idea… not really sure. Probably just doomscrolling the ABC news website constantly.

Kongy, you’ve kindly shared with us ‘Cool It Down’ today, a new song that seems like it could be the start of a whole new project - what’s the story behind this one?

Kong: This little track is a reflective of the obsession with Jamaican music I developed in the first lockdown. Part of my job required me to be driving around every Friday, and the show ‘Riddim Yard’ on PBS 106.7 happened to always be on at that time (big ups to Rick). That’s pretty much what started it.

There’s been hints of a solo project for a little while now - is ‘Cool It Down’ a one-off or is that where this might be headed?

Kong: I think I would treat this as more of a sidestep toward what could become a whole new project. Sometimes I feel like there’s the music that I’ve performed or been involved with - usually attending to my inclinations toward garage and punk cultures - and then there’s the music I’m listening to or experimenting with, which tends to be much less bounded or restricted than the other stuff. Personally I feel like the music I listen to and experiment with reflects my identity more closely and I’d really like to start resolving the tension between these two factors so that maybe in the future I can have one project that is unbridled.

I should mention also this wasn’t strictly solo, my literally cuzzi @skinny-wizard played a Juno synth on the track which made it sound more legit.

Over the past few years we’ve seen you in bands playing punk, garage, 60’s pop and even glam rock with the latest Beans album. Is this your attempt at reggae? Any other styles you’re keen to try out?

Kong: Yes my ‘attempt’! But yeh. Ya got me. It’s pretty much just that. If you want me to be specific then this is my attempt to replicate something that sounds like ‘Liquidator’ by Harry J all Stars or ‘Double Barrel’ by Dave & Ansell Collins. If I’m not mistaken these would be probably more akin to a rocksteady or ska than a reggae but who am I to split hairs? I think reggae is what we’d associate more closely with Bob Marley. Hoo yeh!

In regard to what’s on my horizon stylistically, I’ve found these explorations into Jamaican styles have been pretty informative in terms of how I now think about sound system music cultures, so watch this space for this summers hottest floor fiLlaHz.

Carolyn, despite your broad artistic background, you’ve kept this clip nice and simple but it pairs with the track perfectly. What inspired this direction? Did Kongy have a brief for you or did he just let you do your thing?

Carolyn: In the last little while I’ve been experimenting with simple animation stuff, making little gifs and some basic stop motion clips. I think Kong had seen some of these and liked the style, and had the idea of a relaxed desert island scene. Aside from that I kinda just went for it. It was a good way to challenge myself with the hand drawn animation thing, to work on a longer clip.

It’s sort of surprising that we haven’t seen many video clips from you, considering how in demand you are with your other work! How is making a video clip different to a still piece? Do you have any specific processes or does it depend on the song?

Carolyn: Hmmm… I feel like I’m definitely still finding my feet with the animation stuff, it’s very new to me still. I am often guided by the limitations of my skills in this area, which can be a fun challenge and sort of relates to the way I approach all creative projects - its fun to figure out the most effective way to work with the tools at your disposal. The main difference with the animation work is that it is just so much more time consuming - it’s really on a whole different level in terms of the physical hours it takes. But I feel like it really has so much endless potential in a way that it can tell a story, or express an idea, or allow experimentation. I find it a very exciting way to work.

For this clip, I hand drew each frame, but I’ve done some other stop motion videos for School Damage and more recently Poppongene using hand cut collage techniques. So I guess in this way I feel like its not that dissimilar to my other work - I’m still drawing and cutting and pasting. It would be cool to do more of this work, I just need to find the time! I’ve worked on a few other clips this year but they haven’t come out yet… so you might see a bit more from me in the next few months!

You’ve both always seemed to have a lot on your plate - has this year been a chance to take a break, or have you been as busy as ever? What can we expect from both of you in 2021?

Kong: Definitely a chance to step away from the routine a bit. I’ve been trying to pump out the last bit of a degree that’s been looming for a while. I’ve also been doing a bunch of recording among all of the uni essays. So you might expect something new from both Gonzo and Beans as well as from a couple other fun projects I’ve been a part of. I can also say that I plan to put out a body of solo work maybe this year but possibly next year - this work was a chance for me to dip my toes into some longer-form lyric writing and acoustic guitar orientated music.

Next year I’d love to work with Carolyn again on something too !!! That would be amazing. She really added some class to my little tune that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of day otherwise. While I’ve got the floor I’ll also say that Caz is a super inspiring artist and person and I greatly admire not only her drive but also how she thinks about culture , which is something I’ve learned about her from our interactions over the years.

Carolyn: I definitely feel like I’ve been lucky to keep working on a whole lot of different projects throughout lockdown, keep the creative momentum going. The gigs and touring and band practice and all the pre-COVID music stuff was happening I always felt like my life is completely out of control - so in that way it’s been nice to work on things without that constant stress in the background, and to have time to read more, and just do things I never do like watch dumb shows on Netflix or whatever. Having said that, I miss music so, so much. I miss the chaos. But a holiday has been nice.

Keep up to date with Kong and Carolyn by following them below.