Local post-wave raconteur/charismatic cult leader Cong Josie has somehow managed to convince eight amazing artists into remixing tunes from the Cong! album. Released very recently on the omniscient It Records, Cong On! contains remixes for all nine tracks from Cong! (Cong himself managed to sneak his own remix past his management, or so I’ve been told). I’m not going to pretend that Cong isn’t blackmailing me to write this, so lets get to it. In order to promote the new record (available now) Cong asked his collaborators to discuss their process and thoughts about their remixes. Surprisingly they all responded, but Cong probably has dirt on them too. Without further ado, I present to you Cong and friends discussing Cong On!
Track 1. Flamin’ Heart remix by Premium Fantasy
Premium Fantasy: This remix was a lot of fun to put our minds together on. At first we had different ideas about the BPM which is why it charges off in the intro and winds down to a steady, solid pace. There were moments when we were a little unsure if we were getting too carried away, if we were about to butcher what is already an absolute killer track but Jimmy’s amazing MPC craft seamed it all together.
Cong Josie: The sleaziest grinder this side of your local coffee roaster. The intro alone will have uncontrollably ordering pellets of Snake Oil (lucky you’ve got me on speed dial now) and then keep your hips shifting for three months (admittedly it does hurt after some time, but that’s not my problem). Like your very own Whitehorse Council version of White Horse by Laid Back. A new theme for Monday mornings. I adore Premium Fantasy so much. So deep and inventive.
Track 2. I Want A Man remix by Vacuum
Vacuum: Vacuum are huge fans so we were delighted to contribute to this compilation of hits from the Cong. We chose I Want A Man cause it’s tough and tender, and so approached our remix in this fashion… contrasting the dreamy Twin Peaks backing vocals with a harsh but joyful racket inspired by SPK’s ‘Metal Dance’, and recycling delay scraps of the main vocal into a rhythmic device.
Cong Josie: The song has been taken down to the secret Doncaster dungeon and locked up – where it belongs! Steam bursts from that pipe over there every time you rest your eyes and sub bass emanates from that red machine over there… what is it? 👽? Just then Andrea and Jenny (they’re cloaked, but I think it’s them) slide my daily serving of jelly and ouzo through the bars and I love them again. They inspire me a lot. Equal parts tough n strong body bass cuts and a warmth that calls you deep into it… like this basement.
Track 3. Margarita remix by Simona Castricum
Simona Castricum: For ‘Margarita’, I wanted to reimagine the track somewhere in 80s and 2020s cold wave production. Driving snares, orch bursts, epic drum fills and a chugging bassline. Ideal for any moving experience—hooning down your favourite speedway recommended. I wanted to read more into what I saw were the influences I read in Cong’s work, and play them up a little. We both have a love of Alan Vega’s 80s synth-pop, so I guess this informed where I took the rack.
Cong Josie: Welcome to the year 2050 and I only perform at stadium techno shows alongside Simona.. really she just lets me up for this one song, and i’ll take it. The world as a whole acknowledges that Simona is our salvation (alongside the product of the year – the Cong brand Snake Oil Oxide DIY backpack dance tanks (only popular due to a Future Tube endorsement ad, by Simona though). Everyone’s dressed in long black leather coats and black sunglasses… wait, am I about to describe that movie… Hugo is there, but thats a coincidence. The thing is though, the looping chord progression and giant orch hits pummel the chest and heart. Like a defibrillator used for fun (the way it should be). Like Pet Shop Boys ‘Always on My Mind’. Huge, euphoric and at the same time.. u kno.. the heart. This is (one reason) why Simona is so special, why the future people are packing the stadiums from Milan to Mitcham (yes they have one by then – I went in to bat for then at council).
Track 4. Leather Whip remix by Various Asses
Various Asses: Thought to harness the brooding underbelly and sharp tongue of congs leather whip and twist it into a metallic 4am club track. Messing with it, I probably had 30 tracks of drums alone (as per usual) and remember a strange chain of vocal processing; chops, stutters, warps, breath etc, and slicing long roads of guitar and synth into annoying whip like samples. It feels like confusion, desire and panic had a club edit.
Cong Josie: Sometimes when using a member of the crowd’s volunteer p/leather belt and whipping the stage, milk crates, floor and other surface and singing Leather Whip, I wonder ‘what have I become?’What am I doing? This is dangerous.’ Then I think ‘fuck yeah, you’re beautiful.. more Snake Oil and a Black Rat please, bartender!’. The only person I thought to ask for this one was Raquel. Been a mega-fan watching from afar in the suburbs at their daring and deeep boom elastic productions that, as they described this mix to be are often ‘fucked up’. (Belated blanked language warning… I did say this is adults only). Immerse yourself and reappear with your hair in a mess and wild and perfect stories you will never share.
Track 5. Persephone remix by B.C. Slumber
B.C. Slumber: If I am honest with you, this was my fourth time remixing this track, I had tried remixing it into a house mix, IDM mix, you name it… and nothing seemed to fit. It was then I realised, I needed to ask if CONG could go dance and parade in a different room for a while and let the feminine divine energy of Cassandra Capri take centre stage, Cong agreed… reluctantly… I might add.
When he left, the room opened up, the heavenly choirs began, and we played the rhythms of our hearts and vocalized our thoughts into bellowed chant
Deep down, we missed and loved the machismo that is, CONG! but sometimes, just sometimes, a smidge less masculinity is all you need.
Cong Josie: The moment the Snake Oil hits. Mystery, beauty and bliss. Persephone is so lucky to have this one. Surely she will appreciate it when she’s older. Her very own siren song theme song. Everytime she walks into the common room at Monty High the ethereal voice of Cassandra Capri will wash over everyone and they will be soothed and worries will melt away. Of course such feelings when adults for 70% of the population can only be achieved with Snake Oil. That’s where B.C. and I come in. We actually really do have a history of selling cheap suits together in the CBD. Many dodgy deals, but we know business. B.C. has gone legit though and makes beautiful things on synths with lots of leads sticking in and out of them (like a space rocket I imagine), meanwhile your mate here is doing great things in Greensy at Vape Dreams.
Track 6. Cong The Singer remix by Johnny Cayn
Johnny Cayn: Picture this – it’s 3am, Saturday night. The Crimes have been driving for hours to get to the final show of their sold out side-show-hectic-club-tour of the suburbs of East Coast Australia. They do this for the people. And because Cong keeps losing their money. So it’s 3am, the car is a sweat box, The Crimes are pumped, the sound system in the mid 90’s Corolla is turned up to ear-bleed, they screech to a halt at the club entry, the car doors open simultaneously and thick tongues of smoke roll out, The Crimes glide past the entry line and into the jaw of the beast. This scene is infinitely playing out somewhere in the multiverse and this remix is its soundtrack. With love, from Johnny x
Cong Josie: Looks like surfer hunk Cayn Borthwick but tastes like two Benson & Hedges, a Red Bull, the year 2003, a Ford Telstar TX5, the Eastern Fwy bitumen and a head full of misguided and absolutely genius (when the red bull and nicotine hits) ideas. Johnny is a charlatan and a Casanova conman who’ll sting you (even his bandmates) for a quick buck or the rest of your lunch. He is also a psychic who can tap into your memories, dreams and hopes and turn them into music. Birds of a feather hoon together. Love you Johnny.
Track 7. Wedding Bells remix by Markos Mazarakis
Markos Mazarakis: “Left all alone on a moonlit night, one that never ends”
It was the end of winter and I had found myself a month into a two and a half month stay at this large, beautiful (and spooky!) 16th century castle in the outskirts of Paris. We were surrounded by huge trees, beautiful statues and a pair of white swans had just arrived at the lake next to us. I could see them everyday flying over the castle, making a strange sound as they flapped their huge wings. At night, the owls were hooting at each other, chasing their prey in the pitch black forest.
That’s when Cong reached out to ask if I’d like to remix one of his songs, and I was very excited to do it. I had very little gear with me: my laptop, soundcard, a tiny MIDI interface and a borrowed Korg FM synthesizer from the 80’s that I had taken with me to mess around with.
I chose Wedding Bells as it’s one of my absolute favorites on the record, and as soon as I got the multitracks I fell in love with the beautiful isolated harmonies of the Mona Revs and Cong’s nervous howl, so I decided to completely rebuild the track with a new melodic structure using the vocal elements of Cong and the Revs – as well as the homonymous bells – with a twist.
I used the Korg for pretty much everything, including the percussion. All was played by hand and layered on top of each other again and again. I ended up with about 30 layered tracks, including the vocals which I pitch shifted all over the place. The Korg being an early FM synth had a glacial, digital sound, which worked great to shift the atmosphere of the original track to a darker place. I clipped some of the percussive sounds and pads while recording for a grittier sound (something everyone says you shouldn’t do, but who cares, right?) and built a second FM bell sound to go with the pads in the basic chords and melodies. That way two distinct sections were composed, one for the verses and one for the chorus, over the course of two days. Arranging the track was a matter of another two or three sessions until I felt that the song was starting to tell a story.
At mixing time, a heavy fog had set in around the castle. It felt like a beautiful white blanket. The sound of bells and Cong and the Mona Revs’ harmonies were flowing out of my speakers, the swans were flapping their wings in the thick fog and spring was right around the corner. The first flowers would soon appear and everything would be different.
Cong Josie: Look, I get accused often of making up far fetched stories, spinning webs of lies and just generally of being dishonest. We know this. Would you believe me though if I told you that the hyper-romantic, movie-that-feels-like-a-movie (topical) energy here is largely due to Marko (Acid Baby Jesus, Theremin Jennings) making it in a French castle? TRUTH (see Marko’s words above to fact check). The tuneful church bells, the Mona Reves floating voice of heart break grandeur “on a moonlit night…” well…. “let them eat Snake Oil Gummies!”. I’m sure Marko’s Athenian and surroundings – all that antiquity and Demis Roussos has filtered into this too. His brother Dennis Roussos used to take me out for hoons to Bell St, Mecca’s. Love you Marko “forever and ever and ever…”
(Post note: I actually complained once to Margarita that I couldn’t find Forever And Ever on a streaming platform – “you know it’s not Dennis Roussos” she said… “oh… yeah of course I know that”…)
Track 8. Snake Oil Speeder remix by V
V: I’ll never forget the first time I saw Cong Josie, in a Twin Peaks themed pub in Footscray. I wore my white suit, watching from the crowd I felt like I was transported to the heart
of the No Wave movement, in a sweaty danceclub in the 80s in New York. The excitement, the coolness, dead ass confidence kicked me in the gut and I think I changed that night. Fantasies can be real.
I composed this remix with that concert in mind, but instead of being in the sweaty dance club, I was in a squatted basement venue 20 years later. The kind of joint with a destroyed bathroom and no mirrors. I sampled drums from one of my all time favourite obscure post punk tracks Look Back in Anger by Torment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca5nb-12YHU and together with the lynch pin of the fantastic saxaphone of Johnny Cayn – the same sax that ripped a hole in my soul a year earlier – I was satisfied. Thank you Cong and band.
Cong Josie: DANGER. SNAKES! The original soundtrack for being dropped into the snake pit dungeon club (opening in 2023 in Balaclava – DM to invest). There’s holograms of cobras rising on a static-y loop, chains, flails swinging from the ceiling, lots of smoke and V is the resident dark-wave icon we need. Did I mention the drinks are served in spiked mases cut in half like coconuts. Pounding on the bass-guitar and exorcising, V is our leader.
Track 9. Lorelei In The Night by Cong Josie
Cong Josie: What can I say? I took Lorelei, the final song from Cong!, down to the Moto-Zone (my outdoor laundry/shed/office) and poured Valvoline all over it. It got darker and very greasy, very quick! The oil started bubbling with every throb. The bubble got bigger and started popping, splashing black goo everywhere… It took over the joint. A catastrophic suburban oil spill coating EBM references that lay in every corner. I added some Monotron I bought online a few days before and pushed every single fader up to bask in the ethereal beauty of Cassandra Capri’s siren song “surrender”‘s. Simon Galassi’s wickedly weeping guitar shards get a run in ‘the kitchen scene (of the music video for this)’ and it LITERALLY kills me everytime. The guitar tracks were sent over frozen from Italy where he resides, but still, when thawed, possess the power to put you six feet under. Dead. In… THE. RHYTHM OF THE NIGHT!
Cong On! is available now via Bandcamp, with a fancy pants vinyl version available for pre-order too. Go here to get them. Cong On!