Aw yeah, the Feelers are back with the title track from their second album. Since their previous album, things had changed. The band were a couple of years older, but seem to have ditched the rock star trappings of their previous videos. In fact, this video marks the moment when James Feelers adopted the more casual look that would see him compared to political one-hit wonder Aaron Gilmore a decade later.
The video begins with a bleak hazy orange landscape, struck by sinister bolts of lightning. And I’m thinking, ok, is the video going to be set on Mars? But no. It’s earth and here comes James Feelers walking towards the camera in a t-shirt, baggy jeans and a cap, like someone who’s heading back to the car after making a pee stop on the Desert Road.
The video then alternates between James walking around some sand dunes and the rest of the band putting in a low-energy performance of the song. How low energy? The bass player is sitting down.
Finally James stumbles across a door in the middle of the sand dunes, opens it and discovers his lazy-arse band set up in a makeshift room. Crazy! Surreal! Etc! There is a TV in the room. And – get this – it has a pot plant on top. And just in case things didn’t seem weird enough, it then starts raining.
It’s like because the Feelers have ditched the eyeliner, silver trousers and giant killer punks, the music video has to pick up the slack. But I suspect that the Feelers are actually more comfortable with this casual look. After all, the chorus proudly asserts, “We communicate without any style.”
Best bit: the slow-mo O-face of James Feelers in the rain.
How did Tadpole end up making such bleak videos? Their earlier ones were lively, cool works that showcased the band’s pop-rock talents. But it seems that in later years the band got very very serious, like a teenager dying their hair black.
Yet “Nothing New” is a very stylish video, with Renee dressed as an ice princess of sorts, queen of a winter wonderland, elaborately decorated with flamingos, a bird not usually found in cold climates.
The rest of the band is arranged behind her – guitarist to the left, bassist to the right, drummer directly behind her. And here’s the thing – they barely move. All the band members stand as still as possible, moving only for the slightly effort required to play their instrument or sing. The contrast is noticeable in the chorus where it’s clearly audible that the band are rocking real hard as, yet they’re only shown doing their little twitching movements.
It results in a tension. The song is about a relationship breakdown and the video does help portray that stress, so good on the video makers for achieving that.
But there’s another part of me that is annoyed with the video. “Nothing New” is a good single, but the video shuts down a lot of the energy the song has. The visuals manage to suppress the wilder rock side and make it feel like a ballad. And, ok, Renee looks fabulous dressed as the ice queen, but I remember when she used to jump around a lot. I want Tadpole to party like it’s 1999.
Best bit: the bass player’s flick of the head, the one concession to the lure of the rhythm.
So, one afternoon in 2002 I was visiting my friend Dylan who worked in an office off Karangahape Road, sharing space with a TV production company and various other industry folk. Walking past one office, Dylz showed me a guy hard at work editing a music video. Giant orange letters floated around the screen, accompanied with the sound of Eastern European music mixed with hip hop stylings. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but there was something most intriguing about this video.
It turned out that the guy hard at work was director Wade Shotter and the video was P-Money’s second single “Synchronize Thoughts”, featuring Scribe and hip hop trio 4 Corners. It was another track that proved P-Money’s remarkable skills as a DJ and a producer, and further established Scribe as a hot young MC. Though, like previous single “Scribe 2001”, people tend to remember your name when it’s repeated throughout the chorus.
The video seems to have a somewhat higher budget than the DIY effort of “Scribe 2001”, but while it’s a simple set-up, the video has a slick, stylish look to it. The verses focus on the particular MC on vocal duty. They’re shot in the corner of a dark, shadowy room, and the minimal setting lets the lyrics stand out.
And it’s everyone in when the chorus comes along. Scribe takes the lead, with 4 Corners and P-Money backing him up. It’s a supremely confident video for a bunch of newcomers. But it’s pitched perfectly – it ain’t bragging if it’s true.
Best bit: the don’t-give-a-damn ending with just P-Money scratching.
A while ago I was speculating that Salmonella Dub’s “Push On Thru” journey to a ski slope could be the first half of the adventure Wham continue in their “Last Christmas” video. But here’s a much more interesting second half of a winter wonderland video scenario.
“This is a Urale clan production,” declares Kapisi at the beginning, and indeed it is, a lively, fun romp in the snow directed by the man himself, produced by his sister and edited by his cousin.
The “Conversate” video is set at the Cardrona skifield (“from Krush Groove to crushed ice”), with Kapisi taking his place on a throne made of packed snow while violinist Sam Konise stands next to him, playing along. Dammit, I want an ice throne and a violinist to punctuation my rhymes. There’s also action shots of snowboarders, clips of a ski simulator video game, and DJ CXL on the cut. So already the video manages to be more amazing in the first 20 seconds than Salmonella Dub managed in the whole video.
“Conversate” is a lyrical smackdown, a declaration from Kapisi, asserting his steez as a top MC. “Standing firm in a river of blood, killing you and your homies,” he alarmingly brags. The cliche would be to set this video in an urban setting, deep in a mean-as world of tough guys.
Instead Kapisi has hit the slopes, mainly alone with his violinist and his ice throne, otherwise surrounded by fellow snowboarders. So what does this say? Is his message so powerful that it can travel from Central Otago skifields to the urban streets? Or has he come to the skifield to assert himself there, a message of warning to any wack MCs snowboarders? Or maybe he’s been exiled to the snow, driving away from the city by an MC with greater steez, leaving Kapisi to attempt to create a new life at Cardrona. I get the feeling it wouldn’t take much to be the best MC at a ski resort. But hey – only King Kapisi has a throne of ice. Super cool.
After a previous attempt at the world of music with the duo Before Friday, Dean Chandler went solo and reached 42 in the charts with debut single “Waiting”. He has a light voice, like Robbie Williams on his more playful tracks.
The video was shot in Dean’s hometown of Wellington and we him Dean sitting at a bar. He’s sitting with a beer (label turned away from camera) and has something in front of him that might be a notebook, a fancy cocktail menu or maybe even the lyrics to the song.
Dean spends most of the video sitting at the bar, alone, earnestly singing to the camera. But this is cut with scenes of him walking the rainy city streets, being all moody. There’s no excuse for it, really. In reality, he can take advantage of Wellington’s excellent public transport system and catch a bus to somewhere warm and dry.
He’s shown walking outside the Wakefield Hotel in Maginnity Street. A friend once told me this is the only street in Wellington that doesn’t feel like “Wellington”. You can’t see the hills or the sea from there, and that’s probably why it’s a popular location for film shoots. Most of the other outdoor shots are like this – locations that look cool and urban and aren’t iconic Wellington scenes.
So basically Dean waits at this bar and sings “I’m sick of waiting”. And the “you” of the song never shows up so he leaves, and from there he wanders around in the rain.
It’s a nice, inoffensive song, but the video drags it down and makes it more of a bummer than it needs to be. Like, dude, go and buy that other girl in a bar a drink and stop being such a miserable c-word.
Best bit: the Elvis sneer, a little moment of freedom.
The more mature sounding Betchadupa have the second single off their second album “The Alphabetchadupa” and another video directed by Greg Page. It has a strong guitar pop sound with crunchy garage tones. I like a good crunchy garage.
The video sees the ‘Dupa performing in front of a wall painted in vertical green-grey stripes, looking like a depressed test pattern. There are points of brighter colour from the band – Liam’s maroon trousers, Matt’s red t-shirt, Chris’ red guitar, and the orange Orange amp. With the band neatly arranged along the stage and the camera mainly shooting straight on, it’s a very pleasing rock tableau.
As the band power through their pop pleaser, there’s plenty of rock posing. And this is where the video gets a little interesting. Suddenly part of the screen will freeze. Chris will strike a particularly epic rock pose and he’s paused like that, leaving the rest of the band to play on. I’m guessing the striped background was necessitated by the need to have places to disguise the border of the frozen video. Or Liam and Joe make epic leaps while Joe and Matt coolly play on.
Capturing a band’s live energy is something that Greg Page does really well, but there’s something missing here. Maybe it’s Betchadupa themselves. They seem to be playing their instruments with the energy and concentration of someone having a gym workout. That’s all good, but where is the fun?
The video sets the scene in ordinary New Zealand. A car rolls down a leafy street, the wind blows a suburban washingline, a seagull squawks, and sheep nibble pasture. Despite the international cliches, you don’t normally see sheep in New Zealand music videos.
And we also meet Anika walking past a wall with an elaborate graffiti mural. She’s wearing a beige duffle coat over a red t-shirt, and as the scene changes (to the rural setting, to the beach) she wears the same clothes, eventually ditching the jacket on the sunny beach.
There’s clever editing between the different locations. A sip from a water bottle carries from suburbia to the West Lynn shops to the beach; a kicked can transforms into a kick into the sandy beach.
And with the exception of the few people seen in the background down at the shops, other people don’t feature in the video. This is a world where Anika Moa is the lone inhabitant.
It’s not a particularly high-concept video, and mainly seems to serve as a pleasant setting to showcase the song. It’s attractive, it’s scenic and works nicely with the song.
Best bit: the busy postie seen reflected in a shop window.
According to an Augustino fan forum from 2001, “Overblown” was a radio-only release for Augustino. The forum is amazing. It’s so full of energy and enthusiasm for this cool band everyone loves, there’s bonding and hugs when September 11 happens, then the forum regulars suddenly peter out just as the band release their debut album. And if a band’s fan base can’t stick around, there’s not much hope for the band.
BJ White “Uptown”
The only thing I can find out about “Uptown” by BJ White is that it was included on a sampler CD from Festival Mushroom Records, in between tracks from Lash and Kylie.
Canvas were an enthusiastic trio of young men from Wellington by way of Christchurch. “Tina” was a good pop track and the video got decent airplay on music video shows.
So, an artist called Flipside received funding for a track called “Movin'”. It’s almost impossible to google (and it doesn’t help that there are two other artists called Flipside with tracks that involve “Movin'” in the title) so I can’t find anything on this track.
Nurture was a poptastic collaboration between Deep Obsession producer Christopher Banks and singer Phil Madsen. “Beautiful” was their first single and it reached #13 in the charts.
Sumix “Jump House”
Sumix was a hip hip duo consisting of friends Craig Mckenzie and Aidan Richards. Their single “Jump House” is an upbeat number with a insanely cheerful chorus that instantly reveals Craig’s roots in Christian pop. (Seriously, it has such a Christian chorus). The video was involved the duo going down the slides at Wairewa hot pools. The video evidently made so little impact that director Joe Lonie could safely later recycle the video concept Falter’s “Falling to Pieces” video in 2003.
It sounds like the name of a yuletide horror film, but Jester‘s “Eyes 4 Xmas” is actually a sweet guitar-pop tune. The video seems to have taken inspiration from Popstars. Nga Taonga describes it as “An amusing take on a reality TV talent show. We are privy to auditions for the band (“day 12″), recording the single, shooting the video, creating an image and – Jester’s first show.”
Sheelahroc were an all-girl hip hop trio from Christchurch, comprising of Ladi6, Voodoo Child and Tyra Hammond, a powerhouse of talent. The cool and cautionary “If I Gave You Th’ Mic” was their only NZ On Air funded video. My vague memory of it was an overhead shot of Ladi6 in a space like the train station foyer. The video needs to be online! In this documentary, the group talk about the video shoot being a bit of a mess, and the end video not really making much sense.
Canvas had their second funded video “Sunday”. From memory, it was the band playing the song in a house, going for a lazy-Sunday vibe.
Carmen Steele “Believe In Me”
Kiwihits noted that Carmen Steele‘s song “Believe In Me” was a “reaction to media coverage of the tragic incidence of child abuse in New Zealand” and that the production make it “one of the year’s most evocative songs”. It was Carmen’s only NZOA funding.
Garageland‘s “Highway” is a cheerful ode to road-tripping, and other pleasures. Nga Taonga describe the video as, “Footage from the road – including the Capitol Records – and on stage on a US tour by Garageland.”
GST, the early incarnation of Opshop, have the song “Put Up A Fight”. Most significantly, it was the making of this video that inspired Jason Kerrison to build his apocalypse shelter. As Jason told Salient, the video was filmed at his landlord’s “monolithic dome structure”, which inspired him to build his own.
PA Styles “Summer Breeze”
PA Styles were twins Naomi and Sharlene Sadlier. “Crowds are drawn to P.A Styles like moths to a flame,” claimed a Southgate Entertainment press release, creating an image of crowds of people madly running around PA Styles. “Summer Breeze” was their only funded video.
Director: Rongotai Lomas
Purrr‘s final funded video was “Oxygen”, but I’m not entirely sure if a video was actually made. Oh well, it was nice knowing you, three-piece girlband.
D-Super “The Moths”
D-Super go for a janglier, poppier sound for “The Moths”. It was their third and final NZ On Air-funded music video.
Meno Panteboy “Any Kinda Weather”
Meno Panteboy were an Auckland group made up of musicians who’d previously worked with artists such as Che Fu, Greg Johnson, Nathan Haines and John Rowles. “Any Kinda Weather” was a bFM hit. (In case you’re wondering, panteboy is the Greek transliteration of rendezvous and is another name for a coffee house.)
Slim have their final NZOA-funded video “Crumbling”, an upbeat song about someone who is struggling with drink and drugs.
I’m disappointed that Aaria‘s “Cry No More” video isn’t online. The slick bilingual pop vocal group had a top 10 hit with this single, but it was to be their last. From memory, the video had a similar vibe to the Spice Girls’ “2 Become 1” – all city-at-night cool.
The Relaxomatic Project “At The Onset”
There’s no sign of the final video “At the Onset” from Auckland groovsters the Relaxomatic Project.
I’m not sure if Garageland actually made a video for “Crazy”, but it’s worth celebrating as it was their last lot of video funding. They had a total of 15 videos funded over seven years, which is an impressive rate. From the low-budget fun of the early years to the more sophisticated vids of later years, Garageland made good use of the medium of music video.
Lavina Williams “So I Cry”
The “V” in Ma-V-Elle, Lavina Williams went solo with “So I Cry”. In 2006 Lavina made it to the final 12 of Australian Idol, following younger sister Emily who placed second in the 2005 series.
According to the bio on Amplifier, Michelle Kazor‘s debut single “In This Life” was the “highest charting song from an unsigned act ever on radio” – but that’s referring to a radio plays chart, not the singles chart. I’m not totally sure if this video ended up having NZ On Air funding, but it’s in the Nga Taonga archive, nonetheless.
There were two non-funded videos that made a significant impact in 2001. One was the Deceptikonz‘s “Fallen Angels”, the other was Blindspott‘s debut “Nil By Mouth”. It was self-funded and made with a budget of a mere $800. With a solid song behind it and a great scream-along chorus, it proved a popular hit and won Breakthrough Video Artist at the Juice TV awards and launched Blindspott as alternative metal heroes. (There’s a slightly-higher-budget alternative version, but it’s not as much fun as the original.)