According to the director’s comment on Vimeo, this video was shot on 8mm film and edited in camera. That means it was all shot in the exact sequence as it was intended to be seen. A complicated directorial choice or a low-budget necessity?
It’s a fun video. The director is Julian Reid, who also happens to be the frontman of the band. The action starts with the camera leaving an inner-suburban Auckland garage and venturing out into the garden. “LEMON” shakily flashes across the screen, setting up some spooky citrus action.
The song kicks off (pleasant grunge-era guitar pop) and we meet a glamorous young woman relaxing in the backyard with a cat. Her drink needs lemon (LEMON), which she picks from a nearby tree and violently chops up with a carving knife. Cheers.
By this stage it’s clear that the in-camera editing has been made possible by the video being shot all in one afternoon in someone’s garden. Yep, it’s a cheapie.
A guitarist emerges from around the side of the house. He picks up the lemon (No, dude! It’s evil and sour!) and suddenly there’s a blob of red on his face and, uh, he turns into a bogan lobster.
Angry at his predicament, bogan lobster man grabs the knife and runs after the young woman. After a Benny Hill-style sped-up chase, she lures him to his death, where upon she enjoys a picnic of fresh lobster. Just watch out for the goatee hairs.
The director also reckons the video had a budget of $20, which I’d only believe if that wasn’t counting the value of the production equipment, the labour of the cast and crew, the use of the location and the lobster costume. But when it’s a low-budget video for a New Zealand band, you actually don’t count those things because everyone chips in for free. So that makes me wonder – what happened to the $4980 left over?
Best bit: the cat, chilling on the concrete, stealing the show.
Pluto are an unusual band. They always seemed to be stuck between singles-driven pop and album-driven rock. “Hey Little” was their first single, a sweet acoustic ode of the joys of early childhood. But just in case you thought they were soft, the video begins with a close-up, slow-mo shot of lead singer (and former child actor) Milan Borich chugging back a glass of whisky.
The video starts with a drive along Mount Eden Road. We get a sped-up dashboard view from the Normanby Road intersection, towards Mount Eden village before – spookily enough – it stops in traffic right outside the flat where I ended up living two years later. Whoa.
The car ends up at the house of a little kid (who would now be a young teenager). I think he might be the offspring of one band. There’s a backyard party with Pluto and pals, shot in comfortingly grainy back and white. It feels like that moment when friends start having kids and social gatherings start becoming more daytime affairs with sensible bedtimes.
We get glimpses of Pluto rehearsing, as well as a low-key gig at the King’s Arms. But mostly when we see the band, it’s just the individual dudes hanging out. It feels like an effort to introduce the band as people, rather than as a rock unit – and certainly not as a live band.
So here’s a curious thing. There were two videos made for Goodshirt’s song “Green” and they both appear to have had NZ On Air funding — though only one entry is listed in the database.
The first video was funded in 2000 and released in the same year. The video was directed by Florian Habicht and has the sort of quirky, arty style the director would become known for in the coming years.
The video is set at a West Coast beach, where Goodshirt can be found, buried up to their shoulders in sand. While they’re stuck with nothing to do but play their instruments, there are others at the beach who have more freedom.
Goodshirt are joined by a number of schoolgirls (including a pre-Shortland Street, pre-Power Rangers Li Ming Hu), wearing a boys’ school uniform. (This feels pretty submissive, considering how strong the “sexy schoolgirl” trope is.) The girls have hula hoops and happily hoop away while the band give an energetic performance.
Then about three years later, a second video appeared. This time it was directed by Supergroove bass player (and legendary music video director) Joe Lonie. He became especially known for the videos he made with Goodshirt — four quirky, low-budget one-take music videos that have mostly become classics.
Like a lot of Joe Lonie videos, there’s a gimmick to it – the video is shot upside down with the band dangling into an upside down bathroom.
Each of the band members take turns at the sink, each introduced by a caption with their name. As they’re all danging upside down, their faces puffy with gravity and blood, perhaps the captions are necessary to identify the members.
It’s a fun video, and we lol at Gareth trying to apply Old Spice while it dribbles up to the ceiling. But I don’t think that tone works with the song. The song has a really cool and sexy attitude. The crazy antics of the video neuter that attitude, turning it from “Hey girl” to “Yo dudez!” And really – no one wants to see someone spitting toothpaste up their nose.
I felt compelled to look at the YouTube comments for this video. “fuck you guys who come online to hate”, says jero6919, despite there being no negative comments. And SuperStarrChild reminisces about “2003 at the Grey Lynn bowling club. I’ll never forget that gig.” But it’s Bekiblue who comments about the video itself, saying “i’m feeling ‘barton fink’ with this one…” And yeah, it does have the feel of the gloomy Hotel Earle.
“Drop You Off” is a moody song with a trip-hop flavour to it. The video gives us shadowy glimpses of a hotel room where something bad has happened. A red robe spills across the floor (like blood, you know), where an ashtray is also found. And you know ashtrays don’t normally belong on the floor. A light flickers and someone has scrawled “ready” on the wall. The song is pleasingly bass-heavy and the beater of a kick drum flicks toward the camera, like a sinister marshmallow on a stick. And in the midst of all this drama, there stands Shayne Carter. With those cheekbones and that pout, he seems born to inhabit this noirish world of intrigue.
It’s all about atmosphere. With much of the video shot as darkness and shadows, it lets the song stand out. Shayne Carter doesn’t need to take a starring role. The mystery and gloom lets the song stand out.
It’s like the video is offering clues to a crime that may or may not have happened. It’s ambiguous as to what has actually taken place. But there’ll be no neat gotcha. The video ends with a nighttime journey along a native bush flanked road. The camera is looking up, as if it were lying down in the car. Like a dead body being dropped off.
Best bit: the brocade bedspread, which may or may not cover a body.
This is a love song. Chris Knox might be best known for his iconic love song “Not Given Lightly”, but “My Only Friend” takes things to a whole nother level, with his heartfelt declaration of love for his then partner Barbara Ward.
The video has the usual DIY feeling of Chris’ previous solo and Tall Dwarfs video, but there’s a real sense of vulnerability here in both the song and the visuals.
The video consists of film projected onto different parts of Barbara’s body. It starts with a simple animation of two hands passing a love heart, projected on Barbara’s belly. In another animation, a hand caresses her skin. It’s pretty cute.
But things get more personal. Chris’ face is projected on the side of Barbara’s head. As the song progresses, we also see Chris’ face projected onto Barbara’s face, with almost perfect alignment, making two become one. The song is about having an all-consuming love for another person and the video depicts this with raw honestly. It works in both general terms and also as a very personal, very specific statement.
It’s sad to watch this now and to know that Barbara and Chris are no longer a couple, but I look to the title of the song – “my only friend”. I get the feeling that while they may no longer be sweet lovers in the night, that friendship remains.
Best bit: the animated hand stroking the real belly button.
I bloody love this video. It’s so massive and overloaded and extravagant. Few New Zealand bands have the cojones to make a video this röck, but in 2000 Sony ensured that Breathe would have that experience.
“Don’t Stop the Revolution” made it to number six in the pop charts. It’s a bold, feel-good anthem, but it hasn’t really become a classic. Perhaps it just wasn’t New Zealand-ish enough.
Directed by Julian Boshier, the video begins with a codger in a gold jacket introducing the group to the sound of teen girl screams. He makes frequent use of a cue card, glancing down every few words. Anyway, here’s “the fabulous Breathe.”
The curtains pull back to reveal the band playing to a backdrop of leafless tree branches, with the background colour changing to reflect, I dunno, probably seasons and/or moods. The video initially focuses on lead singer Andrew, but by the time the first chorus comes, the camera lingers on the other band members. It’s as if the band has stipulated equal screentime for each band member and are timing it with a stopwatch.
And here’s a curious detail – three of the band members are wearing sunglasses, so the eye focus is on the lead singer and lead guitarist. Why those two? Or do the others just have sensitive eyes?
It’s all choice, but the very best bit is when the chorus comes back after the break. Andrew picks up his microphone stand, slowly walks toward the camera but doesn’t lip-sync. The background slowly changes to blue, then Andrew starts singing. In the background snow starts falling. Magnificent.
But wait. The video gets better. For in this winter wonderland there comes to be a ballerina, who doth verily dance amongst the branches and the faux snow. And finally the song gets around to ending, almost clocking in at five minutes. If this were a drinking game, I’d be in a coma.
This video deserves a better afterlife than the one it currently has. Most of the YouTube comments are from high school kids having an “OMG! It’s my English teacher!” moments at seeing “Mr Tilby” rocking out, but I reckon it deserves better. “Can’t Stop the Revolution” might not have been the massive hit that Sony were after, but both the song and video are so audaciously epic that it’s still worth remembering.
Oh, here’s Betchadupa, with their fresh-faced youthful enthusiasm – “baby Betcha”, as one YouTube commenter says. The group’s second single “Bits” is a short (90 second) punk number and the lads put a lot of energy into the video. And that’s one of the best things about this video – they’re not pretending to be older, world-weary nomads. Like Supergroove’s early videos, they’re happy to just muck around and have a bit of fun.
The video looks to be self-made, with lots of home video footage of the guys mucking around in a backyard (including some selfie shots while jumping on a trampoline), and there’s also time for a game of beach cricket. Plenty of snapshots are used as well, giving quickly edited glimpses of good times.
Despite only being 16 years old, Liam Finn has the moves of an experienced frontman. He throws some cheeky smiles at the camera and expertly delivers the song.
The video is nicely edited, keeping the footage locked in with the pace of the song. It’s a very satisfying video. There is no attempt to make Betchadupa be anything other than what they were – a group of four friends who love to play music and have fun.
Best bit: “Tahi, rua, toru, wha!”
Note: sadly the video has been blocked to viewers in New Zealand and Germany only by Warner Music. It should be viewable in all other regions.
Another track from the elusive Brett Sawyer. His single “Supercool” has almost no digital traces, but there is a brief review by Graham Reid in the NZ Herald, where he accurately describes Sawyer’s album When It Happens as being “Not bad, but over the long haul not gripping.”
Joshna’s single “Anything” notably was written by New Zealand songwriter Pam Sheyne, best known for co-writing Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle”. The song has a cool housey sound with undeniable pop chops.
Mary “Big Boy (Santa’s In Town)”
Mary contributed the gentle track “Big Boy (Santa’s In Town)” to Christmas on the Rocks a yuletide compilation of New Zealand indie artists. (It’s actually quite a good CD, by the way.)
Moana and the Tribe “Speak To Me”
Moana, having ditched the Moahunters and rebranded to Moana and the Tribe, has “Speak To Me” the first single off her third album “Rua”. It was, as Graham Reid noted in the Herald, a departure from the hip hop sounds of earlier albums and a move to the world music sound she’s known for today.
Suzanne Neumann “Lose Control”
Suzanne reports that the video for “Lose Control” was released and was played frequently on television. Unfortunately the video is not currently available online.
Before Friday “Now”
Before Friday were a duo of Dean Chandler and Ben Bell-Booth. They had a few singles – including “Now” – before deciding that it would be better if Dean went solo with Ben as his manager.
Carly Binding “We Kissed”
“We Kissed” was originally intended as the first single off TrueBliss’s second album, and indeed the funding was originally given as a TrueBliss single. But but eventually Carly Binding left the group, taking her pop with her. Carly’s first solo single was “Alright with Me (Taking it Easy)” had its video funded in 2002, leaving the funding for “We Kissed” on the books for later use.
Confucius was the work of Christchurch electronica musician Nava Thomas. Director Gaylene Barnes intriguingly describes the “Roll Call” video as “Confucius and MysteriousD become trapped in a drum and bass time warp, in this sepia toned music video which incorporates archive footage.” The video was also a finalist in the 2001 New Zealand Music Video Awards.
Sola Monday’s second and final funded video was “All For A Dance”, a sweet folky, jazzy number.
Splitter “Supermarket Girl”
August 2000 is proving to be not a particularly fruitful month for finding music videos online. Joining the missing persons line-up is Splitter with “Supermarket Girl”.
The Nomad “Life Forms”
There’s no sign of The Nomad’s second video, “Life Forms”.
DNE “The Cause”
DNE’s second and final video is for the upbeat dance-pop number “The Cause”. “We are bound to see this group do great things,” says the equally positive bio at Amplifier.
Goldfish Shopping Trolly (GST) “Hey You”
Goldfish Shopping Trolley (or GST for short) was the original name of Opshop. “Hey You” was their first single and has the classic Opshop anthemic sound. At the time, GST were threatening to release the alarmingly titled album “Homo-Electromagneticus”, which promised to capture “the turbulent etheric renderings and solid earthy rhythmic growl of the native New Zealand west coast”.
Breathe “She Said”
After a run of 10 videos, Breathe go out with “She Said”. They just seem like a band that – for whatever reason – never quite lived up to their potential.
Loniz “Child Street Blues”
Loniz were a Tauranga-based trio who later became Pacific Realm. “Child Street Blues” was their first single, which the Kiwi Hit Disc says was playlisted on iwi and b.Net radio stations.
Weta were one of those bands who seemed hovering on the verge of greatness, but for whatever reason, things didn’t happen. (But things are very much happening for Aaron Tokona’s new band, the psychedelic AhoriBuzz). This is Weta at their best, getting series amongst shipping containers.