A Conversation with KOKOFREAKBEAN
Introductory Note: Kokofreakbean (read my adventure with him here) is a contradiction. He is simultaneously both guarded and incredibly candid, sometimes alternating from one to the other without warning. It makes interviewing him both exciting and frustrating. These same emotions will probably be evoked by reading the following interview. But, as is the case in all of his work, the challenges that Kokofreakbean presents always come with rich rewards. I suggest giving up now. Accept his idiosyncratic patois for the poetry that it is and, sifting through it, discover the nuggets of gold he leaves strategically scattered throughout.
Secondary Note: Kokofreakbean insists on pimping his merch at the top of the interview. It’s really the least we can do!
Links (watch his stuff, hear his stuff, buy his stuff!)
Hammer to Nail: Let’s start with some biographical information. Who is Kokofreakbean?
Kokofreakbean: KOKOFREAKBEAN is a like a wet fart in the middle of the Gobi desert. He/she/it is a tainted breed of sustenance, crawling desperately across this battered shell of post-internet humanity in a doomed attempt to rejuvenate and sexify as many nooks and crannies as possible with the ever-fresh stink of THE NEW.
HtN: Of course. So…how did this whole Kokofreakbean project start?
KFB: Initially beholden to Zeus, a vicious and discombobulating breakdown of the nervous variety created a life-altering rift between KOKO and his deity. This resulted in a series of reforms and tweaks that have fundamentally altered the core of his/her/its being. These reforms have been both beneficial and tragic. The joy of discipline has been discovered, but it hasn’t been applied to any feats of consequential monkey business. Misanthropy has been overcome, but the intrusion of social noise has clouded his/her/its mindscape. After 2 years, things might be officially declared irrevocably…different.
HtN: Is there a difference between Kokofreakbean the man and “Kokofreakbean” the character?
KFB: KOKOFREAKBEAN, the man, likes strawberry milk, but KOKOFREAKBEAN, the character, likes chocolate milk. That’s pretty much the only genuine difference that can be acknowledged (in civilized company anyways). Why don’t they sell strawberry almond or cashew milk at the goddamn grocery store?? WHY? Trump needs to jump on that one lickety-split. Thanks, Obama.
BOTTOM LINE: KOKOFREAKBEAN is just trying to make child porn without any children. It’s a tough nut to crack, but Jesus Christ wrote the bible so things like that could enter the realm of possibility. YOU’VE GOT TO READ IN BETWEEN THE BETWEEN BETWEEN THE LINES!!! Looking between the lines is no longer adequate!
HtN:When did you begin animating?
KFB: I began animating in 2004 with a delightful piece of shit called “LODUX”. By that point, I had been making music regularly but I was just beginning to force myself to regurgitate my essence with some degree of purity in other forms. “A Family Finds Entertainment” by Ryan Trecartin opened my theolonious macdougal to the infinite and divine world of After Effects. I didn’t even try to make anything again until 2009, when I finally transferred the video cassette footage for “$10K NAPKIN BLOWOUT” to my computer. I have been animating with a fair degree of regularity ever since.
HtN: Can you walk me through the process of creating a, let’s say, 90 second video?
KFB: First off, I lick a lobster that I’ve painted a fresh coat of pink directly upon its engorged p…blah blah blah. I could make up another series of nonsensical steps like I did in the Off the Air interview or I could you give you the whole 9, 8, 7, 6. Honestly, I just close my eyes in a quiet place and think about what Kenny G. or Hitler are up to on whatever plane of reality they happen to be active on at that time. Somewhere in between that and the resulting idea are the best ideas, the soul torpedos. I’m rarely able to mine those, though. They’re mighty slippery. Regardless, it’s a sure-fire technique that’s taken me to the absolute pinnacle of my real profession, pizza delivery.
HtN: Speaking of pizza, you recently made a short called “PIZZOCALYPSE” that, though still partially animated, incorporates more live footage than most of your other work. Are you moving toward more traditional filmmaking?
KFB: I’ll always find time to stick a few fingers deep into the luscious and buxom sphincter of unadulterated After Effects wankery, but I’ve always wanted to peer around the world of live action filmmaking, too. After spending most of my life as a misanthropic recluse, my nervous breakdown in 2014 forced me to embrace a more social and open lifestyle that made the possibility of working with an actual crew more tangible than it’s ever been. I will eventually make a short film and then move on to a feature. It’s my damn destiny!
HtN: How did the experience of shooting with actors, locations, etc. compare to you usual filmmaking process? You previous work seem pretty solitary.
KFB: When I’m working on an animation and only dealing with, at most, one other person wearing a costume and taking direction, it’s obviously less of a hassle than dealing with a stew of increasingly irritable and rambunctious humans who are hungry and have to take shits. Regulating emotions and maintaining focus and forward momentum are already difficult skills to apply within oneself, but to have to do the same thing for a group of people is a new degree of challenge. I’m learning, but I need practice…and an electrified whip (or maybe I could just use an eel).
HtN: You mentioned having a nervous breakdown. Do you mind elaborating?
KFB: A week or two after I had finished “RANG ZULU,” I woke up with incredibly numb hands. Assuming I had just slept on them as I had done several times before, I went about my morning routine expecting the blood to surge back into my favorite protrusions, but after an hour I was still dealing with the same incredibly numb and now shaky hands. After unsuccessfully attempting to feed myself a spoonful of cereal, a panic consumed my consciousness and I was overwhelmed with the possibility that I would never be able to draw, type, maneuver, fondle, molest, or gesticulate again.
I caved and went to a clinic and the single most horrendous and bizarre period of my otherwise blessed life began. Constant flashes of angst, panic, and hypochondria prevented me from accomplishing much beyond a blank stare and frequent bawling for months. Insomnia kept me from having any kind of break from the bleakness and doom that permeated every corner of every room. The consequences of this episode of my life still reverberate through each day. Fundamental aspects of my behavior have been altered in both beneficial and frustrating ways. I realize now that my breakdown served a primarily positive purpose, but I do miss the person I used to be. Change is inevitable though and it will always find the time and opportunity to dab some shit on your soul. We can only hope to be adequately equipped for these random acts of devastation.
HtN: Jesus! That sounds horrible. Moving on: you have a Linkedin profile. Is it a hoax?
That’s as real as this video of an elephant having sex with a rhino. During my breakdown, I realized the necessity of a true blue career and decided to indulge in a bit of the professional hanky-panky that my hohum friends and neighbors love and cherish so damn much. It’s resulted in absolutely nothing and I haven’t logged in for over a year at this point, so it’s officially part of the defunct internet ephemera of my cyber self. That headshot is 100% accurate, though. I am a devastatingly handsome testament to the unhinged sexual power of almighty androgyny : )
HtN: How does your work as Kokofreakbean connect with your other work as Computer Jesus Refrigerator or as a (non-movie) visual artist? Is there some sort of shared philosophy or mythos linking the work into a coherent whole?
KFB: Absolutely! The fabric of the cosmos and the continuum of physical reality binds all things and beings. Beyond that, all of my work in all its myriad forms seems to share a preoccupation with complex, deliberate randomness. The inherent contradiction of premeditated improvisation excites me. The collision of the primal and the advanced is another thread that seems to bind all of my work.
In our oddly culture-starved age, notions of “contemporary” and “modern” have no relevance. A steady diet of remakes, reboots, and sequels in combination with the instant and limitless gratification offered by the internet has apparently stunted the development of a distinct “now.” My art is an (admittedly feeble) attempt at a remedy to this social ailment. Hopefully by stumbling across something vital, novel, and iconic, a previously hidden pathway to some degree of insight or enlightenment can be illuminated within an individual or an entire society. At the very least, people get to look at something pretty and/or ugly for a couple of minutes or seconds.
HtN: How does Sir Koko pay the bills?
KFB: Apart from selling my soul to Oprah back in ‘92 (a decision that I still can’t find a reason to regret to this day), I’ve also dabbled in the high-octane, chainsaw-sex change world of Black Tejano. Several Black Tejano bands have called upon me to create kid-friendly, promotional snuff for their secret legions of adoring worshippers. They pay top dollar, but that well seems to have dried up in recent months so I’ve resorted to pizza delivery to make my rather frugal ends meet. Adult Swim also helps out with the occasional commission and fabulously cryptic Christmas present (this year I got a toolbox and a hammer!), but it’s too inconsistent to rely on for regular income. Regardless, I owe everyone over there a couple of toes and maybe a pinky.
HtN: Some filmmakers make movies because they have a story that they just need to tell. Others do it for political reasons. Others to capture a feeling or express something otherwise ineffable. What motivates Kokofreakbean to make movies?
KFB: Initially, none of this monkey business was a choice. Images, notions, and sensibilities had accumulated within my souls gonads to the point where I had to regurgitate them in some form. I genuinely feel more like a vessel than a source for these things most of the time. Good art can be mathematical in the sense that it can at least occasionally seem to expose an innate and provable truth beyond language. What I’m always attempting to achieve is something undeniable, something solidly grand.
I want to penetrate infinity! I feel like I have honed a fairly unique and identifiable aesthetic, but that becomes a double-edged dildo pretty quickly. Personal cliches become easy, goto choices that make the process more efficient but less surprising and engaging for me as the creator. I’ve never had an appetite for mistakes, but at this stage I feel like the only way to progress is to dive headlong into a hellish sea of relentless mistake-making. First world problems…
HtN: Do you have any major (cinematic) influences?
KFB: My favorite filmmaker of all-damn-time is Jean Rollin. Although his films may be somewhat boring and slow, the amount of atmosphere and psychic energy he managed to imbue into his films (especially those between 1970 and 1982) is without parallel. The so-called euro-trash genre in general is a goldmine for all kinds of minute revolutions and peculiar energies that have yet to be fully explored. Alejandro Jodorowsky is another titan of cinema that has left his divine taint on the buttcheeks of my soul along with David Lynch, Ryan Trecartin, the Ramsay Brothers, Robert Altman, Renato Polselli, Jess Franco, blah blah blah. For the sake of brevity I’ll stop there, but those are the ones that pop into my head at this precise moment.
HtN: How about non-cinematic influences?
KFB: Macho Man Randy Savage continues to be a beacon of truth and beauty constructed with soulful chunks of unfettered fabulosity in my life. A dull moment perks up like a jenkem fiend in a sewage plant whenever Macho Man enters my sphere of consciousness. Captain Beefheart is always a true blue source of inspiration and mental-glockenspiel grease. Although I don’t know exactly what it is, anyone convicted of “aggravated mayhem” seems like they would be able to impart some wisdom if given the opportunity.
The Tunguska Event is another thing that excites a certain splotch on my medulla without fail. Jack Vance, Alfred Bester, Anthony Burgess, Aldous Huxley, Nikola Tesla, Stan Brakhage, Douglas Trumbull, Meredith Monk, Bjork, the Shaggs, John Zorn, and a mighty tower of others who I am too lazy to sit here and type have all touched me in places and ways that few others would dare and I’m extremely thankful for their gumption and fabulosity.
HtN: In the time that I’ve known you, you seem to have gone through numerous reinventions of yourself. Most recently (as seen in the Lost Time panel), you’ve come out as a sort of grotesque exaggeration of a Trump supporter. What’s the deal?
KFB: Being a hardcore proponent of the hollow earth theory, Trump is a kind of godsend. As his presidency progresses and our already fragile veil of civilization begins to unravel, the real earthlings will be forced to emerge from their underworld dungeons, pits, and pizza ovens and make themselves known to humanity. Kind of sucks that we have to obliterate the planet in order to get some confirmation on this criminally under-reported fact of life, but I’ve got a $5 bet that needs winning and guacamole doesn’t buy itself.
HtN: Do you remember your dreams?
KFB: Rarely. If I ever do, I forget it immediately after my morning shit.
HtN: Can you share a traumatic childhood event?
KFB: When I was around 7 or 8, I hit my best childhood friend in the abdomen with an aluminum bat as he was laying on his concrete driveway. To this day I have no idea why I did it. A high concentration of bad juju was in the air, perhaps. Even though I was the aggressor and not the victim in this event, I still view it as a traumatic reminder of some vile, dark force that lurks within the deepest splinters of my otherwise pure and kind being.
HtN: If this interview resulted in someone giving you a $50 million budget to make your next project, what would it be?
KFB: I would buy a small mountain of Great American Challenge dildos and a low rider tank and recruit an army of tweens to randomly raid neighborhoods and grocery stores. I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt, so the army would be instructed to either lightly tap or fake hit whatever they aimed their dildo at. At a certain point, after several relentless years or decades of this monkey business, a natural momentum would build up and course through humanity, resulting in a grand collective spectacle. A review of the greatest achievements of our species would close out the ceremony and then we would all calmly march to the closest volcano and step briskly into the vent in an organized and noble manner. I’d either do that or devote the funds to grow the largest crown of broccoli the world has ever known. That seems like something worth doing. Yep.
HtN: Do you ever appear in public out-of-costume?
KFB: Unfortunately, I am frequently forced to venture out into this world in less than opulent attire, but I’ve managed to nurture a meat-sized caterpillar of hair along my upper lip, so that shields me from ultraviolet rays and a whole slew of ne’er-do-wells. I’ve also recently discovered the joys of female clothing which has expanded my plebeian fashion palette into slightly more interesting configurations. The goal, even when delivering pizza, is to exude at least a minute twinkle of my divine goddamn essence. Human beings have to try a lot harder than lobsters or zebras.
HtN: If a college course were taught on Kokofreakbean, what would it be called?
KFB: Shamanic Ecstasies and False Prophets in the Post-Internet Malaise
HtN: Some of your videos have tens-of-thousands of views. Who do you imagine your audience to be?
KFB: It’s a toss up between this guy and this dude. I’m fairly certain 99% of those views is coming from one of those titans of American virtue and grace. I feel it in my bones.
HtN: What would you like your audience to take away from your work?
KFB: Maybe a free toaster or the subtle whiff of an onion.
– Nick Toti (@NickTotiis)