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.)
This video didn’t used to be online, but there’d been enough written about it that I could kind of review it from memory. But now that it’s been uploaded, well, there’s even more to write about.
But first, this video features nudity. Totally NSFW. Also, I’m not 100% sure if this video eventually had NZ On Air funding as it’s only in one of the three lists I use. But nonetheless, this vid is still worthy of a few paragraphs.
In their early days, Garageland made fun, colourful pop videos, but they sometimes got a little edgier with their later releases. Still, their previous video, “Gone” was a funny low-budget vid that imagined a world where Garageland were big in Asia. But things changed with “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?”
It was directed by Myles Van Urk, the man behind “The Trip” compilation albums of “alternative grunge” from the early ’90s, and his own foray into the world of pop with the 1994 track “Sanctuary”. This time Myles was taking Garageland into the world of live nude girls.
The video is a slick extravaganza, filmed in black and white and set in a strip club. The video even started with opening titles, crediting the band and the video’s director. And then came the strippers. Crotches thrust at the camera in an erotic fashion. And the boobs – the troublesome boobs.
The nudity meant it didn’t get to screen much in its unedited form. I remember seeing it screened on a late-night music video show, given all truckload of promotion because boobs. The nippless version was still restricted to after the 9.30pm watershed. But the world’s cruel reaction to his artwork seemed to take Myles by surprise. He had, after all, just wanted to create a video that was “beautiful, simple, hedonistic, ironic, potent and most importantly rock’n’roll”. Yes, ironic strippers.
As Myles explained in a 2001 statement, “It was never a question of ‘eek, let’s put some tits in here and make the video really edgy and controversial'”. No, the video just happened to end up like that.
Funnily enough, in a TVNZ article on the matter, all the producers of music video shows quoted were sympathetic to Garageland. They liked the video, they wanted to play it, it’s just that it was inappropriate for their audiences and time slots.
Myles mused, “Perhaps it’s naive to consider the music video one of the last free mediums where art and commerce don’t collide.” Lolz! Music videos are precisely all about the sticky collision of art and commerce. As the NZ Herald commented at the time, “We here thought music videos were exactly the point where art and commerce not only collide, but end up lap dancing with each other.”
So how did the “Who The Hell Do You Think You Are?” video affect Garageland’s career? Well, it created a largely bemused reaction in the media. The single didn’t chart and the album it was taken from was to be their last. But, you know, Garageland were still cool.
The lesson: you want boobies in your vid? You must pay the price.
This was the final single off Zed’s debut album and the last lot of NZ On Air video funding for Zed. Their second album “This Little Empire” had the might and power of Interscope behind it, happily funding fancy American videos for the group.
So perhaps it’s appropriate that Zed’s final video under Universal Music NZ has such a such a recognisibly Auckland location. The lads are playing up in the Kiwi Tavern building in Britomart, right next to the old Britomart parking building, just across the road from the old Britomart carpark building. The carpark – New Zealand’s first municipal carpark building – was demolished in July 2001 shortly after this video was shot, with the long-term redevelopment of Britomart launching soon after.
Anyway, back to the video. After a lost pizza guy gets directions, we find Zed playing in a first floor room of the old pub. It’s all going on like an ordinary music video, but suddenly the music drops away and we cut to a young couple pashing in a car atop the neighbouring parking building. The guy is distracted by the pop-rock he hears floating in the Auckland afternoon and stops the snogging. That’s right – Zed is a boner killer.
The sounds of Zed attracts a decent gathering of attractive young people who just happened to be hanging out at Britomart. It’s kind of a forward projection of the time when Britomart would be appealing enough to lure attractive young people instead of junkies.
The pizza delivery guy shows up and there’s a bit of subtitled humour as the band members mouth instructions to him. There’s more rock, the song ends and the crowd on the street below cheers then walks away.
I feel a bit sad that Zed ran away to America so I won’t have the opportunity to look at their later videos. But never mind – they still had a good run of six videos before moving on to bigger things. And I think that’s a pretty good situation for a NZ On Air-funded artist.
Best bit: the annoyed girlfriend demanded of her distracted boyfriend, “Are you gonna get back in?”
This video can be simply summed up as an old man reflecting on his life. But it’s oh so much more than that.
People love this video. They love it hard. Looking at online comments, this is a video that homesick expats use to remind them of Aotearoa. It’s a video that reminds people of their absent friends and family. It makes people feel proud to be from New Zealand. One YouTube commenter was so moved that he pasted the haka as tribute.
At the heart of the video is acclaimed actor Wi Kuki Kaa. With most of the video being a close-up on his face, he effortlessly moves through a range of emotions. And here’s the really clever thing – he is subtly moving in time with the music. A twitch of an eyebrow, a quiver of the lip moving with the cut-up beats.
The video begins with the busy preparation of a hangi in the front yard of a villa, set some time in the early 20th century. The camera slowly moves in and we see the old man sitting on the porch. Zooming right into the man’s eye, reflected on his pupil we see memories of his past – courting his sweetie and walking with his grandfather.
Back on the porch, family members come to hongi and chat with him. There are moments of happiness on his face, but there’s still a deep look of a connection with the past. One young women seems to say something harsh that upsets him, bringing tears to his eyes. And seeing an old man cry is such a horrible thing.
But comfort comes with his mokopuna. A grandson leaps up and hugs his koro, bringing a smile to the old man’s face. The camera slowly pans out on the same house but it’s in contemporary times (complete with a loft conversion) and it’s bustling with friend and family, again preparing a hangi.
Chris Graham had directed a few funded videos before, but “Little Things” was the first that went from being just a promo video to a moving creation that still has a deep effect on audiences.
Tadpole’s sixth NZ On Air funded video is a short rant against the scourge of “manufactured” bands. It seems a bit like barking up the wrong tree. New Zealand never had all that many manufactured groups, and the ones that were around didn’t exactly enjoy long, successful careers. TrueBliss – who also had a single called “Number One” – were over and done within a year of forming. It seems a little like punching down – here’s this successful rock band dissing struggling manufactured pop groups.
And indeed the “Number 1” video captures Tadpole at the top of their game. They’re performing on the main stage at the Big Day Out. Like Shihad’s “Bitter” video, the video uses editing tricks to disguise the fact that it was shot at a music festival and not their headline stadium gig. The stage is never shown in a wide shot and shots and the footage has been given a washed-out filter, all helping to masking the Big Day Out branding and town down the festival colour.
Lead singer Renee is wearing the most remarkable outfit. It’s a halterneck top with tight trousers that erupt in massive flares. It’s the sort of thing that would have last been seen on “Ready To Roll” in the 1970s, but the 2000s were the decade of bling and Renee wears those crazy bellbottoms with attitude.
It makes me realise that the early 2000s have refreshingly seen videos get a bit more showbiz. The keeping-it-real days of grunge are fading fast and bands aren’t afraid to give ’em the old razzle-dazzle. Of course, being New Zealand it’s toned down, still trying to keep it real.
Rubicon return with more punk-pop high jinks and this time they’re engaged in a fierce tennis tournament at the tennis centre in Parnell.
Playing triples (a form of doubles tennis, the interwebs tell me), their first opponent is the Nerds. Remember how nerds used to be scrawny guys with straight-parted hair, neat shirts and glasses? And then remember how guys who dressed like that became hipsters, while nerds were chubby guys with bad skin, World of Warcraft accounts and Game of Thrones t-shirts? Yeah.
Rubicon then face their next opponents, the Babes, a trio of attractive young women. It’s classic male gaze, with plenty of slow pans up the team’s legs. Bassist Gene is so flustered by all this carry-one (women! with legs!) that he dumps a bucket of water over his head.
In between matches, we also see Rubicon rocking out in the stands, both during the day and at night, making good use of the different areas in the stands.
The final opponents are Rubicon’s foes The Bad Guys, last seen in the video for “The Captain”. This time they’re wearing red-haired monster wigs. The Rubicon lads set the tennis ball machine on the Bad Guys and they’re soon out of the competition. Somehow Rubicon have also beaten the Nerds and the Babes, meaning they’ve won a giant comedy cheque for $20,000, which they accept making Doctor Evil finger poses.
Best bit: rather than wrangling friends as extras to fill out the stands, Rubicon use cardboard cut-outs.
Roger Perry’s Kingsland Housing Project had Stephanie Tauevihi on guest vocals, giving her a sassier role her more restrained Strawpeople collaborations. The video is just a sassy, based around a cute animated world where a live-action Stephanie goes chasing after the man of her dreams.
Sitting at her kitchen window, farmgirl Stephanie longs for a handsome man in uniform. She dreams of going to a dance with him, dispensing of a flock of adoring ladies by using her mind powers to make a cluster of mirror balls fall on them, then shooting away in a rocket with captain handsome.
Back on the farm, there’s some drama with burly milkmaids, cows with fembot-type laser teets, a swirling vortex and a mysterious light inside the fridge. Will Steph get her man? Um, I’m not actually sure.
The video makes good use of Stephanie’s talents as an actress (at the time she was also playing Donna on “Shortland Street”) and it makes for a really entertaining adventure. The animation is basic but clever, done in a kitschy style that works with the character of the song. I like it!
Best bit: Stephanie’s fierce bitchface when her dream guy is surrounded by adoring ladies.
So what happens? I lament the lack of dancing in videos and suddenly it’s everywhere. In the final of Mary’s NZ On Air funded videos they’re going out with some line dancing.
Mary are performing in a line-dancing venue, and are decked on in their finest cowgirl threads, all check shirts, boots and hats. With echoes of “The Blues Brothers” (and predating 3 The Hard Way’s “It’s On” video), there’s a short chicken wire fence in front of the stage, no doubt to protect Mary from any bottles thrown at their legs and feet by angry line dancers. It happens.
For a song about relationship misery, it’s a sweet, lighthearted video. The group even join in the fun, getting down for some boot scootin’ on the dancefloor – though one of the Marys seems to be going for a woman-in-black look, lurking in the shadows behind dark glasses.
Mary had nine music videos funded, which puts them on par with artists such as Supergroove, Annie Crummer and Goldenhorse, but they didn’t come anywhere close to enjoying the same sort of success as those artists. But that’s ok.
I once read an arguement from a guy who reckoned that NZ On Air should only fund songs that would go on to be timeless classics. (And just imagine if there was a person who could magicaly pick which songs would still be around decades later. I suspect they’d be off making millions doing A&R for a major label, rather than slogging away at a government agency.) But I think there’s still a place for songs and artists that belong to a specific time and a specific place. A one-hit wonder isn’t a sign of failure, and neither is a band who has a burst of life then fades away.
I’m sure that NZ On Air were taking a punt on Mary, thinking that this all-girl group with silky pop harmonies might go on to have some hits, but it just didn’t happen that way. Instead we have traces of a fiercely independent band who released some EPs, some singles, made some videos, played a lot of gigs then broke up.
Best bit: the “no bottles” sign – it’s badass.
Note: The video was on Amplifier, but it’s since been removed.
Here’s an impressive piece of videomanship. “Complicated” was nominated for Best Video at the 2002 New Zealand Music Awards and it’s still a remarkable work. A collaboration between the man behind Gramsci Paul McLaney and director Ed Davis, the video has a deceptively simple premise: Paul stands and walks as the camera rotates around him.
The trick is what’s happening in the background. It’s an ever-changing tour of New Zealand. One moment he’s in the middle of the Queen Street-Victoria Street intersection, the next he’s on a deserted beach. A steamy Rotorua thermal wonderland leads to a spacies parlour.
What’s most impressive is the editing. A decade after Michael Jackson amazed audiences with the fancy new morphing technique at the end of his “Black or White” video, it was something that could be accomplished in a much lower budget video for a New Zealand indie artist. While the transitions between locations aren’t seamless, there were still plenty of moments that left me trying to figure out how it was done.
The video acts as a more honest New Zealand travelogue than you’d normally get. By selecting locations that have music video appeal, as well as sweeping coastal and vistas we also see less picturesque spots like an electricity substation and an industrial yard. It would be far more interesting to go a “Complicated” location tour of New Zealand than anything inspired by “Lord of the Rings”. Hey, that’s an idea…
Unexpected side effect: after watching this video a few times, I now feel quite seasick.