Otara Phil Harmonic “Drummer Boy”

This is an interesting one. The Otara Phil Harmonic was a Phil Fuemana project, with vocals by Johnny Sagala and Ermehn, and Lole singing the chorus. This song might not actually have had NZ On Air funding. But the one thing I do know is that on Christmas Day 1994, “Drummer Boy” was at number 40 in the charts, before quietly slipping away into the silly season. But then they were up against Purest Form’s yuletide power ballad.

While the song is very loosely based around the classic Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy”, it’s not an overtly Christmas song. It has rapped verses with Lole singing about her “drummer boy” in the chorus. It’s very reminiscent of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s 1991 hit “Summertime” but with a random Christmas theme. But maybe that’s the problem. It’s too Christmassy to appeal as a regular hip hop track, but not Christmassy enough to become a yuletide classic.

The video is shot around South Auckland. It looks pretty low budget (which would suggest it’s not NZOA funded, but I’ve seen cheaper looking videos made with funding) but the quality of shots varies. Lole is filmed dressed like an office worker, sitting in a chair that looks like office reception seating. It’s like they popped in during her lunch break and filmed the chorus.

The rapped bits are done outside, around the back of some shops and it looks good. It’s the delicate balance of picking a location that looks edgy enough to work in a music video, but still looks like New Zealand.

But the best thing is the dancers. I like dancing in a music video. There’s not a lot of it, probably because it’s quite complicated to arrange and film, but this video gets it. A group of dancers break out some slow-mo moves, filmed in front of colourful roller doors as the golden-hour light makes everything look amazing.

Best bit: all the rappers sensibly wear sunglasses as they’re facing the bright sunshine.

Next… all the groove of the Pacific.

2 thoughts on “Otara Phil Harmonic “Drummer Boy””

  1. some info on this posted on Deepgrooves website with the video…

    “LOLE, Johnny and Ermehn front this MR. PHILLIP FUEMANA produced track, probably from 1994. This was originally part of the Papa Pacific Label co-founded by Deepgrooves co-founder MR. MARK TIERNEY. When Kaiun Digital purchased STRAWPEOPLE’S Wireless Studios (Based in Mr. Massey’s old 228 Studio apartment, which in turn became the Stamp Offices then Wireless Studios), one of the conditions (Mr. Tierney loved doing these deals and we loved him for it) was that Deepgrooves would need to complete, release and distribute a number of uncompleted Papa Pacific projects.

    ERMEHN was already on Deepgrooves, and from memory the incredibly talented Sagala brothers were very accommodating, too nice really. We were struggling to cope with the volume of artists we were already working, but we stuck to the arrangement and completed the Lole project and video and released it. We weren’t asked to sign any of the artists to furture recording deals nor did we, we simply assumed control of the various half completed projects and completed those for the artists that wanted to be released. Although it should be noted, we did match up Lole with the talented Mr. John Oz (KIA KOE album live musical coordinator) and together they did produce an albums worth of material, in varying degrees of completion. In some boxes from this deal we have recently found a MR. SANI SAGALA (Now a multidisciplined megastar) single and video that he worked on in the mid nineties, not released to our knowledge. From memory MR. JOHNNY SAGALA had a single ready to go as well, but we think he went solo with that and in this video you can see what an absolutely dynamic artist and performer he is. The man’s amazing.

    We would (sort of) work with MR. JOHNNY SAGALA again, when MR. PHILLIP FUEMANA recorded and produced the PIONEERS OF A PASIFICAN FRONTIER at Kaiun Digital. From memory I think we even edited the LOST TRIBES – “SUMMER IN THE WINTER” video.

    NB: The internal scenes in the video were shot in the old 228 Queen Street Studio.

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