Found videos from the 1990s

Windswept beachiness, urban Balkan, Christchurch in the before time, racial unity, straight down, a ’90s fashion parade, tattoos, Auckland cool, velvet painting, getting seductive, and a bad lip sync.
Continue reading Found videos from the 1990s

Found videos from 1995

Let it rain 1995! There’s Supergroove on bikes, funk at the Civic, Lionel’s disappearing act, mean streets, tropical lolz, music with a message, wide lapels and an Auckland story.
Continue reading Found videos from 1995

Lodger “Forever”

1995-lodger-foreverLodger was a side project by Damon Newton of the Dead Flowers – especially a one-man band, from what I can tell. And the dramatic waltz “Forever” has a similar sound to the slower, more ballady numbers that the Flowers did.

The video, directed by Jonathan King, keeps things very simple. It’s shot in black and white, with Damon sitting in a black room. He’s surrounded by a very particular selection of items: a grandfather clock, a pocket watch, two clockwork birds in a cage, suitcases, a trunk and two sheet-draped chairs. All highly symbolic.

Actually, I would like to meet someone who actually has a house decorated with every room like something out of a music video. It’s not a fridge, it’s a symbol of a failed marriage. And the kitchen bench always has milk dribbling off it.

There’s also a woman in the room. She doesn’t seem to acknowledge Damon, which probably means she’s a ghost and/or a memory. I might have been worried about ghost lady being just a music video prop, but she actually comes across as being cooler and more interesting than Mr Lodger. While he’s hunched over in his chair being mournful and miserable, she steals the show with her awesome hair and general air of confidence.

The challenge of this minimal setting is to keep things interesting. With a melancholic song and a low-key performance from the artist, it’s up to the director to add some zip – and this is largely done with editing. The verses slouch along, with the pace picking up for the chorus, shots overlapping to create a dreamlike feeling. Quite nice.

Best bit: that the woman is more interested in the wind-up birds than the man. #symbolism

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a video for a man or a woman.

Semi Lemon Kola “Otherwise”

1995-semi-lemon-kola-otherwiseSemi Lemon Kola had perfected the contemporary grunge rock sound of the mid-’90s. “Otherwise” absolutely sounds like an artefact of this era and even though I don’t think I’ve heard the song before, it takes me back to this era.

The video starts with an angel, a woman serenely posing with wings and looking very Catholic. There’s footage of a church, but we quickly get straight to the band. The video is shot in black and white with lots of dramatic shadows of window frames, like they’re the indoor variety angsty teen.

The action is cut very rapidly, with the only moments of reflection being given to the angel. It’s like she’s there as the calm centre of the crazy “Otherwise” universe. But despite her presence, things get even crazier as the song ramps us. Near the end, the video bursts into colour, with shots of the band performing live. It’s a manic ending, far removed from the chilled out world of the angel.

I get the feeling this song would have done quite well on Channel Z, the alterno rock radio station of the era. It’s so ’90s that I can’t quite take it on its own terms. It feels old.

Best bit: the angel’s ’90s bob.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… hair and confidence.

Matty J Ruys “Mine”

1995-matty-j-ruys-mineCatch-up time: this was missing from one of the NZOA databases that I used, but fortunately I found it in another.

Matty J is a determined man. “The girl will be mine,” he asserts. But which girl? This video has a United Nations of hotties for him to pick.

Directed by Mark Tierney, the video is simple but cool and urban. Wearing a shirt with an extremely pointy collar, Matty J is caught in a spotlight as he stands in front of a wall made from non-step steel, just in case he wanted to try out his Spider-Man movies.

Also standing by the non-slip wall is a number of women, each dancing to the song’s cool grooves, each giving the camera seductive looks. It’s almost like they’re auditioning to be “the girl”, except all the women have a bit of a don’t-give-a-dam look.

Just in case things were getting a little claustrophobic, Matty J ventures outside, hanging out in front of the old Central Post Office, where only the pigeons understand his angst. He also celebrates being outdoors by doing a seduction rap.

I like that this video has taken a low budget and made something quite styley out of it, including magically tranforming Queen Street into a much cooler urban area.

Best bit: Matty J’s dramatic grabs at the camera.

Director: Mark Tierney
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Superette “Killer Clown”

1995-superette-killer-clownclonDave Mulcahy left the JPS Experience and formed Superette. “Killer Clown” was their first single and the video invites us to a party – a very sticky party.

An ordinary suburban house is hosting a grown-up version of a children’s party. There are coloured lights, balloon, streamers, glitter, jelly, cake, sweeties fancy make-up and a general sense of unease.

At the centre is a table laden with all sorts of delicious treats, most of which are smeared in and around the mouths of the eager party guests. While all this are going on, the band play the song, with Dave’s light vocals on the heavy subject of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

Inspired by Gacy’s multitasking as a children’s clown and a serial killer, the song and this video contrast the bright, cheerful world of clown entertainment with a darker side. But instead of murder, it’s adults acting like children, smearing themselves with jelly, pashing on the floor.

This video looks like it would have been so much fun to make, but the more practical side of me wonders if by the end of the shoot, everyone would have been hot, tired and covered in sticky. Much like a real children’s party.

Best bit: the party guest cutting jelly with scissors.

Director: Stuart Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… rumble in the jungle.

Stellar “Ride”

1995-stellar-rideStellar didn’t break into the charts until 1998, and yet here they are in a much earlier form. Boh Runga is yet to dye her hair red (because her younger sister isn’t famous yet, so she doesn’t feel a need to physically distinguish herself), her vocals are distorted, and the band has a much harder grungier sound. Yet the Garbage influence and grunge-pop sound is still in there, really to emerge fully formed a few years later.

“Ride” is from the soundtrack of New Zealand short film “Headlong”. It seems unusual to have a music video promoting a short film when the video is a quarter of the length of the film.

The video sees Boh and the early incarnation of her band performing the song in a warehouse. Everyone in the band has long hair, and Boh especially has so much hair in her face, it’s as if she was trying to protect her identity. The band parties like it’s 1993.

It’s a confident, energetic video, and it seems to capture an energy that didn’t come through in the later more sophisticated Stellar videos.

Best bit: the mysterious green hula hoop.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… sticky jelly party fun times.

Purest Form “Lady”

1995-purest-form-ladyPurest Form is really growing on me. “Lady” is a fairly ordinary slow jam, but – like all Purest Form videos – this video is another precious taonga.

The quartet seem to have reduced to a trio – scandalous! They start dressed as mechanics – or rather, an am-dram version of a mechanic, complete with strategically placed smears of grease. Sometimes they’re leaning over the car, other times they’re in the car, with a deliberately unconvincing green screen. I’m going to pretend this is homage to the Headless Chickens’ “Cruise Control” video.

The garage scenes are cut with black and white outtakes from their previous videos, including falling down the dunes in “A Message to My Girl”, whacking into the giant Christmas decorations in “It’s Christmas” and tomfoolery on their Rainbow’s End ad shoot. We also get to see them performing at a mall, a reminder that for a few months, Purest Form were a bit of a big deal.

For the chorus, the group are back in the matching suits. This time the suits are made from a black fabric with a silver filigree design. They are dressed like middle-aged women. They’re trying. They’re really trying to be New Zealand’s answer to Boys II Men, but there’s just so much missing.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… an early trip to the stars.

Jan Hellriegel “Geraldine”

1995-jan-hellriegel-geraldineJan’s back with the first single off her second album. The title character undergoes a metamorphosis, and this guides the central theme of the video.

Filmed on and around the back steps of St Kevin’s Arcade in Auckland, the video starts with a waiflike Jan singing the song surrounded by instruments, her band absent. In the background, a few random K Road freaky people wander past.

A greasy looking businessman strolls by and enters one of the flats in St Kevin’s, where the Wine Bar now lives. The businessman is played by Mika, which should be a hint of things to come. In his apartment, he shaves and emerges as an extravagant Maori warrior. It’s all on.

The monochrome world has changed into a Geraldine’s lush reality. Jan vamps it up, with her hair transformed into lush Alanis Morrisette curls. The back steps of St Kev’s are alive with feathers, smoke, wigs, fire and sinister extravagance.

It perfectly matches the not-quite-right tone of the lyrics, creating a extravagant messed-up world that might not have literally existed in Auckland in 1995, but it’s nice to think it might have.

Best bit: the extravagant moment of transformation.

Director: Kerry Brown
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a strategically placed smudge of axle grease.

Dead Flowers “Same Same”

1995-dead-flowers-same-sameWorst gig ever. In a dive bar near a demolition derby track, Dead Flowers play to an audience who seem to actually hate them. The lead singer finds himself in an argument with two men, and children laugh at the band.

The rest of the crowd at the gig seem equally munted. They either sit around looking bored out of their minds or they engage in flamboyant arguments with each other. But then things get worse with the appearance of both a neo-Nazi fellow and a “Brown Power” gang member. And, yeah, they’re both really really angry so another fight ensues.

What sort of gig is this? What kind of small town has a) a large population of really angry people and b) only one pub where all the angry people go? And why did the Dead Flowers end up playing here?

The second half of a video moves away from Angry Town and we see the Dead Flowers performing at a proper gig, in front of a real and huge audience of fans who really enjoy their music. See, in reality, the angry pub doesn’t exist and everyone loves the Dead Flowers.

Best bit: the children laughing at the band. What are they doing in a pub, anyway?

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a glam awakening on the back stairs.