Music / Premieres
Video Premiere:
Cong Josie - Persephone
Words by James Lynch
Wednesday 10th March, 2021
Following on from the release of ‘Leather Whip’ last year, Cong Josie has once again emerged to serve up another serving of his brand of sleazy new-wave and warped post-punk - on ‘Persephone’, Cong contorts a doo-wop ballad into a soured synth-pop dream, and its accompanying clip adds an extra level of bizarreness to the whole endeavour.
Recognisable as the bandleader of the inimitable ’heat-beat’ collective NO ZU, Cong Josie (otherwise known as Nic Oogjes) has been crafting evocative and infatuating dance music since 2007. Where NO ZU excel in more-is-more groove extravaganzas, his new solo endeavour finds the versatile musician flirting with detailed synth backdrops that leave plenty of space for his shapeshifting vocals to do much of the heavy lifting.

After open with a yearning yelp, ‘Persephone’ expands around a squelching doo-wop groove while Cong and a group of backing vocalists trade lines; an enigmatic croon at one moment, and waves of dreamy harmony the next. Slowly, the soundscape unfolds with layers of drenched guitar and off-kilter bass thumps, as mesmerising keys and squawking saxophone lines continue to emerge to subvert the track’s direction. Eventually, ‘Persephone’ hits breaking point and settles into a relentless, pulsing groove that traps us in its intoxicating haze - however, Cong refuses to be weighed down, and instead rides the track out with a flailing yet completely commanding vocal performance.

Speaking about the track, he explains “with ‘Persephone,’ I've allowed myself to get swept off my feet in a shoo-wop-shangri-la fantasy. It's a place that feels blissful and smells like expensive perfume. I never want to leave. Long shadows of 50's rock n roll balladeers and 'cool' archetypes that stretched to, and revived in the 90's, imprinted on a young boy's psyche. The thing is though, it's among the most personal of my songs. Persephone may just be a very real someone that is very close to me. Real/fantasy is the purgatory that Cong Josie lives in for eternity.”

Accompanying the single release today is a new clip created by local filmmaker Lizzy Bailey. Perfectly playing into the track’s ability to exist in the blurry space between reality and fantasy, the clip continually tugs between stark end-of-the-night shots and vividly fanciful motifs, and more often than not settles into a slightly uncomfortable middle ground. Speaking about the clip, Cong shares “I’m not sure if Lizzy Bailey, the director, and Joey Knox, the DOP, just snuck into one of my hallucinations and filmed it, or if it was a real 12 hour shoot at my house in the suburbs. Either are just as likely. For days around that time I did smell a lot like cigarette butts, lavender Bathox, Melbourne Bitter and pomegranate though. The crocodiles, snakes, snails and lizards I live with have no idea either."

'Persephone', and Cong's cover of Ollie Olsen's 'Win/Lose' on the second A-side, are out in all the usual places today. Cong Josie's debut album is set to drop later this year via It Records.