The WBC “Ease Ya Mind”

2003-the-wbc-ease-ya-mindSo, a friend of mine was in the WBC and I’d go to see them play live quite a lot. They were a really choice live band – full of the well-rehearsed slickness and energy that a good ska band needs – and really good to dance to.

But “Ease Ya Mind” wasn’t even close to being one of their strongest singles and I was really annoyed when I heard it was going to be the subject of their first video. It was like they’d turned completely on what made them so good live and gone for the one easy-listening number in their repertoire. WTF, guys.

And then came the video. It starts with the band stumbling across a dusty old barn filled with – quelle coincidence – enough musical equipment for a six-piece ska band to play. And they play.

Outside we discover the old barn is in a vineyard. An old man strolls the rows of grapes and tastes a glass of wine in the middle of the grape plants. And two farm girls (who looks more like promo girls) tread some grapes with their feet. I grew up on a vineyard and I can confirm that neither of these things actually happen in real life. (Nor was there a ska band in the garage.)

The band then gather around a table and enjoy a delicious meal, served by the promo girls. The old guy is pretty drunk by this stage and has a dance by himself. He is probably remembering the old days, before the ska bands came.

It’s not a bad song or a bad video, but it could all have been so much better. But, oh well. It still reminds me of happy times, and that’s a good thing.

Best bit: the saxophonist’s lonely walk out in the vineyard to play his solo.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… high school musical.

The Brunettes “Polyester Meets Acetate”

2003-the-brunettes-polyester-meets-acetateBefore we begin, a disclaimer: I have an irrational dislike of the Brunettes, solely because of their name. I’m not brunette, so I felt like they were implying there was some sort of special cool-dude hair club that they belonged to and I didn’t. (Similarly, I was also suspicious of 4 Non Blondes, but the less said about them the better.) But I’ll try to put that to one side and look at this video as objectively as possible.

The video looks to have been filmed on the streets of New York city. Heather’s hanging out on a stoop, drawing in her book when some black-clad hipster start bugging her. They also hassle Jonathan, otherwise happily playing his guitar on a nearby bench.

The pair each turn from the judgemental hipsters and do fun things. She goes shopping with a girlfriend while he plays in a park with his friends. They come together in the park for a sweet frolic. But is this all a dream?

The park romp eventually gives way to Jonathan sleepily sitting in a subway car. He dozes off, his head falling on the shoulder of his seatmate who shoves this snoozy intruder away. And the video ends with Jono walking off into the New York night.

Aw, that wasn’t too bad at all. My only issue is that the video is only available in a lowres version, all blocky pixels and obscured details. Most importantly – I want to know what Heather’s drawing in her notebook.

Best bit: Heather Brunette’s girly trying-on-stuff duckface.

Director: Daniel Monaghan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a fine whine.

Tha Feelstyle “Outside Enclosure”

2003-tha-feelstyle-outside-enclosureAnd into the crazy chaotic animated world of “Outside Enclosure”. It’s really good 3D animation, and reminds me of something from a Wii game. I’d like to see that – hurling the Wii controller around as Tha Feelstyle flies around the world.

The story starts in New Zealand, where Tha Feelstyle wakes up in bed with three women and a grin. Over on the Amplifier, Kas describes the old school funk-inspired song as being about baking, but reckons “if you sing it wrongly it becomes a sexual song.” So that would explain the absence of lammingtons in the video.

He gets a phone call to alert him to a menace on the other side of the world. A giant robot called Robo-Rap is causing trouble. While he DJs, emcees and does breakdancing, he doesn’t draw the crowds and then there’s the slight problem of him turning on people. Never mind – the Feelstyle to the rescue!

It’s simple bout, some man vs robot showdown, resulting in Tha Feelstyle electricuting the robot. With his main competition out of the way, Kas becomes the the star performer, attracting a bigger crowd than the robot ever managed.

The video is full of sound effects to add to all the action in the clip. The problem is, sometimes the sound effects threaten to overwhelm the song itself, making the music seem like a random backing track rather than the heart of the video. But having said it, at least it’s not as bad as that disastrous Head Like a Hole vid.

Best bit: the pneumatic rocket jandals, good for flying around the world.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a roll in the grass.

Revolver “Play”

2003-revolver-playThis is not the first time director Joe Lonie has made an excursion into the world of racquet sports in a music video. The last time we saw Goodshirt playing a very unusual game of badminton. This time it’s a fairly standard game of squash played by the boys of Revolver. They’re at the fitness club, shaggy hair partially tamed by sweatbands, ready for a fierce game of doubles squash.

We also see the band performing the song. But wait. This is a Joe Lonie video so it can never just be about a standard band performance.

No, the band and their instruments are squashed into a sauna. They’re only wearing towels and are glistening with sweat. Does this sound erotic? It’s not really. The sight of five hairy sweaty dudes crammed into a tight space just makes me think it’s all going to be a bit pongy.

Back on the court, the doubles game is looking pretty dangerous, with racquets being swung dangerously near the heads of teammates. After one particularly dramatic collision, the camera zooms in on a sign warning “NO DOUBLES!!!” Those three exclamation points mean business.

The the sign gets shown a few more times, which feels a bit like the gag is being laboured over. Well, someone went to the effort of making that sign.

Back in the sauna the lads continue to play and sweat. The game ends in exhausted bodies being dragged from the court, while the sauna action ends in a another sign gag. A towel is flicked at a naked bottom, but – hey! – the sign says no horseplay. Which is a strange thing to have to regulate against in a sauna, in the first place.

The YouTube description notes that the video was nominated for Best Indie Video at the Juice TV Music Awards.

Best bit: the perfect throw of the squash racquet into its case.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… dealing with the competition.

Misfits of Science “Fools Love”

2003-misfits-of-science-fools-loveIt’s strange to realise that this song was a one-hit wonder for the Misfits of Science. At the time it seemed like a natural part of the incredibly successful period of number-one singles by New Zealand artists – mostly hip hop – in 2003 and 2004, and with no sign that it was to be a one-off for the group. But as Duncan Greive notes at Audio Culture, the charts “started to resemble a rap version of the then-recent dotcom bubble. That is, any old crew with a semi-plausible single could have a hit.”

“Fools Love” was a good song, but there was nothing very New Zealand about it. While other New Zealand hip hop artists made songs that were firmly rooted in Aotearoa, “Fools Love” sounds like it could have come from anywhere. The video continues with this rootlessness. In fact the only thing that makes it identifiably New Zealand is the NZ On Air logo.

But it’s still a fun video. Directed by Shane Mason and Mark Trethewey, the video takes the Misfits crew and makes their heads big and/or their bodies small. For a song that’s all about mocking bling culture, this animated style keeps it light and doesn’t drag the song down into a massive diss track.

The background is a collage of skyscrapers, limousines, booty girls and all the other trappings of hip hop culture at the time. The end result is a stylish and fun video that surely contributed to the song’s four-week run at number one.

Best bit: the heads down, shoulder-dirt-brushing intro.

Director: Mark Trethewey, Shane Mason
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… instead the sweaty box.

Katchafire “Getaway”

2003-katchafire-getawayIt took me a while to figure out what was happening in this video. On the surface it just looks like lead singer Logan is going for a walk around some Auckland suburbs, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that.

This top 10 single is all about taking time out from the pressures of life, even if it’s just the desire and fantasy of taking a break to a “special place”, rather than actually doing it. So the video treads that line between fantasy and reality with two versions of Logan (one wearing a green sweatshirt, the other a red hoodie) taking a walk. It’s like a version of Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow played by a chilled out dude just going for a walk.

Red Logan sets off from his home and goes to a park where he meets his bandmates for some fish ‘n’ chips and a jam. He takes off his sweatshirt and becomes Green Logan, but Red Logan is still out there, taking a walk past his local dairy. Green Logan leaves his mates and also goes for a walk. So the two Logans are both out there, both walking.

They each pass by a number of landmarks – a bushy hedge, a vintage car, a power pylon – as well as some one-offs like M2 presenter Jane Yee walking a huge dog. Halfway through the video the two pass each other on the street and then go past the landmarks the other has just been near.

Red Logan ends up at the park, where his bandmates don’t seem to notice that their bandmate is mysteriously wearing the hoodie he took off before he went walking. And Green Logan returns home.

I’ve seen this video many times before back in the day, but this was the first time I actually realised it was more than just the guy from Katchafire going for a walk. Discovering the parallel worlds of “Get Away” was a nice surprise.

Best bit: the kids jumping on the trampoline, appearing over the bushy hedge.

Director: Tim Groenendaal
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… big heads.

Ill Semantics “Highway”

2003-ill-semantics-highwayThis song reminds me of the golden days of M2, TVNZ’s after-hours weekend music video show. Back when a premiere of a local video would be treated as a grand royal event. And it’s helps when it’s a really cool, fun video like “Highway”.

The video opens on a sunny day at a remote train station. DJ CXL finds himself taunted by a ukulele-playing kid. “He wants to battle you, bro!” CXL ignores the kid and heads off along the train tracks on foot, but the kid follows.

It seems CXL is trying to get to a house party that Nemesis is holding at a state house in Orakei. The kid jumps a passing boxcar (in a slow speed but nonetheless impressive stunt), leaving CXL along with the kid’s ukulele.

Meanwhile, Patriarch takes the much easier route – he’s driving, with a small child in the passenger seat and eventually picks up an exhausted CXL. Finally the trio are reunited and the party takes off, complete with the Fat Albert “nah nah nah” referencing middle-eight, only to have Savage accidentally cut the power. Oh, Savage! Then it’s time for the turntable-ukulele duel, and the party goes on into the night.

“Highway” was released as a double A-side with “Watching You”, which also had a music video directed by Sophie Findlay. Both videos are ambitious and have a fun sense of style an theatricality – and not every group can pull off something like this.

Best bit: the ukulele kid, equal parts creepy and cute.

Note: the video was on YouTube, but it’s since been taken down. Here it is via a random video site.

Director: Sophie Findlay
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a double up.

Goldenhorse “Wake Up Brother”

2003-goldenhorse-wake-up-brotherKirsten Morrell is the only member of Goldenhorse to appear in this video. At the time I remember the band saying it was due to the song being a personal ode to Kirsten’s brother. But it also means that Kirsten gets to be the glamorous star of the video (her hair and make-up is fabulous), leading to such YouTube comments as “Kirsten Morrell is absolutely gorgeous alright. She has a wonderfull voice though which matches her looks” from riddicus14. (Though this person also commented, “Just hope they don’t become too mainstream”, so it looks like they got their wish.)

“Wake Up Brother” is based around Kirsten riding in the back of a car, at night. The video seems to be shot with a still camera bolted to the side of the car, and the video has been filmed slower and sped-up in post-production.

There’s not a lot that can be done in the back of a car, but Kirsten removes a coat, nibbles on some red liquorice (and biffs it out the window), waves at some passersby, and applies some lipgloss. Also – I don’t think she’s wearing a seatbelt.

The only time the video doesn’t quite work is during the non-vocal bits of the song when Kirsten is nodding her head along with the music. In real-time, with the slowed-down song it probably looked gentle. But sped up she looks like a cross between a headbanger with a neck injury and someone who is really really really agreeing with you.

For a song that’s about the joy of having your overseas sibling come to visit, the video also captures another joyful activity – driving around at night with the window down.

Best bit: that the red liquorice might be a Wayne’s World reference.

Director: Rachel Davies
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… hitting the road.

Ejector “Disconnect”

2003-ejector-disconnectThe “Disconnect” video is an impressive animation, a joint project between Toby Morris and Peter Stenhouse. The tragic star of the “Disconnect” video is a Voltron-like robot, manned by the four members of Ejector.

The video opens with the team in the process of dismantling the robot as something has obviously gone horribly wrong. We then learn of the robot’s story in flashback.

It was once a bright, shiny new invention – “the people’s robot”, there to save the city from all the terrible creatures that were troubling it. And it seems things all ran smoothly, the robot slaying the creatures with its Voltron- and guitar-inspired sword. But then there was trouble.

A routine slaying goes wrong when the robot shoots lasers from its hands instead of using the axe. The enemy is destroyed, but so are ordinary people on the streets. Therefore the robot must be decommissioned.

Because the four human operators aren’t considered at fault, there’s the sense that the robot has become sentient, operating outside of its, er, prime directive. And that’s never a good thing.

While it’s not as thrilling as an episode of Voltro, the story has a surprisingly moving ending, with the four operators force to dismantled, unplug and disconnect the robot. It’s an emotional farewell.

Best bit: the end credit is written in BASIC computer code.

Director: Peter Stenhouse, Toby Morris
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a night drive.

Dubious Bros “For The Ladies”

2003-dubious-bros-for-the-ladiesTen years ago, when Labour was in government and Auntie Helen cared about the arts, I did a year-long course as part of WINZ’s PACE “artist’s dole” programme. It was brilliant and immensely helpful, but it seems almost unbelievable thinking about it now, especially as WINZ now have this weird unhistory that says that PACE never existed.

One of the other people taking the course was Rosie Morrison, a photographer originally from Hamilton, and she’d taken the still shots used in this video. And there’s a big difference between the stuff she photographed and the Super 8 footage used in the video.

The video sees the Tyna and Macro go for a harbour cruise. The captain of the boat is not a crusty old seadog, it’s a young woman wearing nautical hotpants. While she’s steering the boat, she gyrates a little. I’ve not seen that move in Pirates of the Caribbean.

All the Super 8 footage has a golden glow to it. It’s a real “I’m on a boat” fantasy, where hot chicks are happy to hang out with Hamilton rappers because – wahey! – they’re on a boat.

In contrast, the still shots seem more grounded in reality. Instead of the sexy boat fantasy, the still shots reveal a bunch of people out on a boat in Waitemata Harbour. And it even seems more focused on the male friends of the Dubious Brothers, rather than the models, who the boys are probably too shy to approach. So whatever hip hop video fantasy the Super 8 creates, Rosie’s still shots slyly come along and deflate that. And that is very cool.

Best bit: one of the ladies eats a hearty hors d’oeuvre.

Note: This video was previously available on the website of director Michael Reihana, but it’s currently unavailable.

Director: Michael Reihana
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the people’s robot.