/ John Cole

words, photos & video by josh yong



An evening with John Cole,

It’s about 5pm in Brisbane and I get a text from John letting us know that he’s just finished work and was hastily on his way to meet us. Now the important thing to know here is that John works in an surgical theatre, so it is totally understandable that he can’t just announce mid-surgery that he had to go and film a folk music video in the sunset.

That being said, he assured us that he would make it before the sun disappeared completely.


John first got in touch back in September 2015. I had just got home from the Gold Coast where I was working with Tyler Vivian from Idiio, John had seen the videos and thought I may have been based over there. I was actually living in Wellington at the time, but I promised him that we would work together should I find myself in Brisbane.

So here, two years down the track, I find myself in the mighty Queensland. I kept my word and he was still keen to collaborate. Now all that stood between us was the woeful Brisbane traffic on a Friday evening…


About half an hour later John comes running from the carpark and across the field to where me and Natana were lying in the grass, enjoying another steaming Brisbane summer evening. After some quick introductions we jumped in to action, we were now seriously racing the light.

There was no room for rushing though. Despite the pressure I believe it is so important to take the time to make sure everything is working and feeling right. One of my favourite things about these videos are the honest intimacy between the performer and the camera, so if either party aren’t in the right headspace the entire thing can fall apart before it has even begun.


What I immediately pick up from John is that he is one of the most easy going humans out there. I get the vibe that his approach to tasks is to genuinely jump into what he knows best without thinking about it too much – and I mean that in the best way possible.

With the sun now dipping towards the tree line in the distance, John starts a performance of his track “Sleepy Hollow” a single from his debut record ‘Burden Road’.

It was a pretty special thing hearing him play today, after first hearing his music a few years back. I can immediately hear the growth that John has undergone as an artist since 2015, both in his performance and in his confidence too. It seems that with a record under his belt, it’s not so much about figuring out what his artistry is, but more about working hard and refining his craft, and I can assure you this is an incredibly humbling thing to witness.

“Take me down to that sleepy hollow //

a cigarette and a road to follow…”

                                                                                 – John Cole “Sleepy Hollow”

With John on a roll, and still enough light to film, we roll straight onto another performance, this time the title track of his record “Burden Road”.

The idea was to incorporate a bit of movement into this one to match the energy of the performance. I gave John a starting mark under a trestle archway and then gave him the most precise instructions a director can give, along the lines of “just wing it and see where you end up – I’ll try follow along”.

So that’s exactly what we did.

He nailed the song in one take, I somewhat successfully managed to capture the performance without falling over, and just like clockwork the sun dropped below the horizon.


I have to say this was definitely one of the fastest ROAM sessions ever filmed, from first meeting to completing two performances in the space of about half an hour.

Time did not definitely comprise on quality though, it’s pretty gratifying having a collaboration that just works so effortlessly and quickly,

(let’s just forget about the fact it took two years to finally happen okay?)


Enjoy – more projects on the way so keep in touch.

Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think of the project so far.

 – JY x