Ermehn feat Cydel “Silver & Gold”

2004-ermehn-silver-and-goldDirected by Oscar Kightley, “Silver & Gold” presents a South Auckland morality tale. The video features a young man who spends much of the time wandering the colourful neighbourhood streets, looking concerned. But what’s troubling him?

It turns out he’s troubled by a bank robbery that was previously detailed in the non-NZOA funded music video for Ermehn’s bleak song “Bank Job”. That video featured a Tarantinoesque robbery, where everyone is a sweary gun-toting cool dude until one of the bank staff is accidentally shot. It ends with one of the crew hiding from the police, and indeed we catch up with him in “Silver & Gold”, which looks at the aftermath.

It turns out the criminal has a troubled conscience. He wanders the streets of South Auckland and sees kids happily playing, probably reminding him of when life was better. The video flashes back to the robbery using clips from “Bank Job”. The revved up cinematic tone of the robbery jars with the more ordinary footage of South Auckland, suggesting that the cooldude bravado of the robbery is a fantasy, with the reality being too awful to consider.

The criminal heads towards his house, where a police officer is at the front door, talking to his family. There’s no showdown, no struggle. The guy willingly gets in the cop car, leaving his family looking utterly deflated.

The video ends on the family sitting around their table, praying for their son. The camera pans around and we see a photo of the guy as a boy, back before things went wrong.

It’s a sad story, so it’s just as well that Ermehn is here to kick some butt. He features along with Cydel, hanging out in South Auckland pedestrian mall that looks as vibrant as Cuba Mall on a good day. The cool music, uplifting lyrics and Ermehn’s kick-arse performance is enough to lift the darker storyline to at least give it a hopeful feeling. “Silver & Gold” doesn’t give the dark world of “Bank Job” a happy ending, but there is at least a feeling that history won’t be repeating itself.

Best bit: the vibrant scenes in the pedestrian mall.

Director: Oscar Kightley
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a romantic escape.

Elemeno P “Claim To Fame”

2004-elemeno-p-claim-to-fame“Claim to Fame” was the sixth and final video for a track off Elemeno P’s debut album “Love and Disrespect”. And the video sees the band in the midst of touring, a sign that they were perhaps too busy on the road to shoot a video.

The video opens with Dave getting the audience to put their hands in the hair while guitarist Justin takes a photo “for his kids when he’s an old man”. And as the song starts, we see a montage of many photos of Elemeno P fans posing for Justin with their hands in the air. These days, an artist taking photos and sharing them is pretty unremarkable, but 2005 predated social media so it still felt kind of special.

The sea of arms turns into photos from a big outdoor concert, then finally back to footage at the smaller venue from the beginning. The rest of the video is a mix of live footage and still shots, capturing the band at their peak. But this is where it loses its momentum.

But here’s the thing – the video is way more interesting than the song. The song is a sedate rant against name-droppers and slaves to fashion, and it doesn’t come across as something that would be awesome to experience live. It’s a toilet break song.

For live videos, whether it’s a big rock moment or an intimate performance, it has to be with a song that makes the viewer feel like they’re witnessing something special. The “Claim to Fame” video just demonstrates a band who are performing a random album track to a group of fans. A spirited song like “Verona” would have worked much better as the subject of a live video.

Best bit: the waving of hands in the hair, like everyone just doesn’t care.

Next… a guilty conscience.

Deja Voodoo “Today, Tomorrow, Timaru”

2004-deja-voodoo-today-tomorrow-timaruUp until this point, Deja Voodoo had been the jokily rubbish house band of the chaotic televisual experience that was Back of the Y. But the lads got a bit more serious and hit the road with something resembling a proper band. Members Chris Stapp and Matt Heath had previously directed music videos for other artists (for example, Tim Finn), but Deja Voodoo was their first time in front of the camera. Their first two videos were glorious self-funded efforts – “We are Deja Voodoo” and “Beers” – before moving to a slightly higher budget for “Today, Tomorrow, Timaru”.

The song was a tribute to the music of Jordan Luck and the Exponents, a tale of thwarted love and rooted solidly in Timaru. And there’s something to be said for that. Most New Zealand songs ignore the geography, with everything happening in a no man’s land of emotion. Previously we’ve seen the Mutton Birds’ “Dominion Road” and the Peter Stuyvesant Hitlist’s “Ode to K Road”, but this is the first time that South Canterbury has been name checked. (Unless you count Jan Hellriegel’s “Geraldine”.)

The video is shot in and around Timaru, carefully illustrating all the places mentioned in the song. They’re even rocking out in front of the bird aviary, which – the internet tells me – has since been moved 200 metres from that site. There was also a planking controversy there in 2011.

The climax of the song is the shouted roll call of various small towns between Timaru and Christchurch. It manages to make places like Washdyke, Rolleston and Rakaia (“Rakaaaaaaia!”) seem really mythical, even when accompanies by a very ordinary clip of some local shops.

Much of the humour of the video comes from the site of a cool dude band dressed in black, striking many quality rock poses around Timaru. But despite all the lolz, Timaru comes across very well in the video. It’s shot on a cloudless day, with the band bathed in golden light from the setting sun. Awwww. It makes me wish more bands would get out of Auckland and Wellington when shooting their music videos.

Best bit: Deja Voodoo’s obnoxious van.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… tour pics.

Confucius featuring Sarah Brown “Take It From Me”

2004-confucius-take-it-from-meConfucius was the project of Christchurch musician Nava Thomas. The first funded video was “Roll Call” in 2000, with “Take It From Me” being the second and final funded song four years later.

The video is partially animated, that is, there’s filmed footage with animation over the top. We meet a young woman who has a handful of glitter stars which float up into the night sky, looking not unlike the stars on the New Zealand flag.

The stars turn into sunflowers and there’s a lot of gaiety. Then it all gets complicated, with the woman put on a grotesque muddy mask on her face, and pulling waves of painted background around her. With the recurring motif of the flag stars, maybe it’s all a metaphor for the debate around a new national flag. Hey, if the silver fern motif doesn’t work out, maybe we could have sunflowers.

This is one of the few videos where I had to mute the song to be able to follow the visuals. The song itself is a pleasant enough chilled out track, but somehow the visuals fight with it. Often animated videos end up feeling like there isn’t enough happening in them, but this time it seems like the opposite. The video is a rich, detailed world while the song is far more relaxed.

Best bit: when the lady slumps down a wall and leaves giant scratch marks.

Director: Mark Antony Smith
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… it’s all good in South Canterbury.

Autozamm “You Don’t Know Me”

2004-autozamm-you-dont-know-meIt’s the return of Autozamm and this time they’re found in an old gun emplacement, one of the ones constructed in anticipation of an enemy that never came. Never mind – Autozamm have brought their own conflict to the site.

The video starts with the band posing for a series of photos, then they start fighting. The entire video – which appears to have been shot in one continuous take – involves the band throwing choreographed punches, taking turns at beating each other up.

It’s been shot with all the punches thrown and lyrics lip-synched in a slowed down form, then adjusted in post-production to give the effect of a more urgent brawl. The thing is, none of the fighting looks real. The band members are obviously not being beaten up, and after a while it begins to look less like fighting and more like an elaborately choreographed performance art piece.

It’s like a trick. If the band members were wearing black leotards and performing on stage, most Autozamm fans wouldn’t be at all interested. But put them in jeans and t-shirts inside a bleak military setting and suddenly it’s all martial and cool.

The video also has heaps of YouTube comments from people who love the video. Particularly, there are comments from people who are fans of the editing software that let all the sped-up and slowed-down bits happen. In fact, most comments are about how technically brilliant the video is, with few comments on the song itself.

Best bit: that Mikee Autozamm is so hard that he brawls without removing his specs.

Director: Ed Davis
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a starry night.

Amber Claire “Here It Comes Again”

2004-amber-claire-here-it-comes-againSo, this is interesting: the video for “Here It Comes Again” was shot at exactly the same time and place as Amber Claire’s previous video, “At Seventeen”.

There’s Amber Claire wearing the same silky gown, her hair twisted up in the same style. She’s surrounded by the same backing band, including the Clayton Weatherston lookalike, and they’re all performing in front of velvet curtains with three chandeliers hanging down. A lot of the shots are the same and they’re edited very similarly, including close-ups of the bored looking band members playing their instruments. The main different between the two is that “At Seventeen” is shot in colour, while “Here It Comes Again” is in black and white.

This attempt at a two-for-one is rather disappointing because one thing I’ve learned is that even back then it was possible to make a decent looking music video for $5000. Even if they wanted to shoot both the videos at the same time, how hard would it have been to have a change of costume and redecorate the background a bit? If this were part of a live performance, you’d expect the different songs to have different lighting and staging. Why the cookie-cutter style for the videos?

Funnily enough, “Here It Comes Again” is a better suit to this performance and video style than “At Seventeen” was. The latter had a disconnect between the lyrics of a teen outsider and the very glam setting of the video. While “Here It Comes Again” is a lovely ode to love, which suits the elegant cabaret style.

But then look at the song title: “Here It Comes Again”. Maybe this is an elaborate performance art statement. Here the Amber Claire video comes again. There is no other.

Best bit: the bit that was like “At Seventeen”, only in black and white.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the fist of fear.

Aerial “As I Fall”

2004-aerial-as-i-fall“As I Fall” is set in a fish and chip shop (the one in Huapai, to be precise) where Michelle and Andre Aerial are working behind the counter. In comes a hard-working Kiwi bloke who has a good look at the extensive menu before ordering, er, fish and chips. What, no paua fritter?

Andre passes the order onto Michelle, to gets to work dipping the fish in the batter and getting it and the chips in the fryer. At this point I was thinking how amazing it would be if the music video was just footage of fish and chips being cooked. I’d really be into that.

Sadly the urge to be a sensible music video is too great and we get a compromise – a split screen with Michelle singing and the fish frying. Sometimes the action focuses on just Michelle, and somehow that’s a bit disappointing. I mean, she’s a nice singer and looks good on camera, but there’s something just that much more appealing about fish and chips.

Sometimes the lone Michelle scenes put her in the middle of the kitchen with the camera moving around, which reminds me of the similar kitchen-hand glam of Carly Binding’s “Love Will Save Me” video.

The freshly made F&Cs are wrapped up in newspaper, a reminder of the days before the Herald downsized to a compact format, hugely affecting the New Zealand corner takeaway industry. The bloke gets his order, along with a “longest drink in town” milkshake and goes on his way.

So why the fish an chip shop setting? Well, the song ends with the line “Just happy where we are”. And the video makes this Huapai fish and chip shop seem like a pretty idyllic place to be. But let’s see what happens come the Friday night rush.

Best bit: the fish, followed closely by the chips.

Director: Hugo Tichbourne
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… déjà vu.

48May “Leather & Tattoos”

2004-48may-leather-and-tattoos48May got into a bit of trouble with this song, on account of it having more than a passing resemblance to “Punk Rock 101” by the Texan punk-pop band Bowling for Soup. According to the Htown Wiki, the song was pulled from the rerelease of the band’s debut album The Mad Love, and indeed the track is currently not available for purchase on iTunes.

The worst thing – “Punk Rock 101” is a rant against cookie cutter punk-pop, and also a fine example of how to include references to other songs and artists without directly copying their work. It even has the sneering refrain “Same song! Different chorus!”. Oh dear.

But if you go back to a time before any of that happened, you end up with 48May breaking into a bleak student flat. This is where the subject of the song lives – the goth chick with the leather and tattoos – only she’s not home.

Weirdly it looks more like a dude flat, but then the lyrics do mention she likes wrestling, monster trucks and Slipknot. Jon sneaks upstairs and joins the rest of the band rocking out in a couple of bedrooms.

Jon then ventures into the girl’s bedroom and discovers a pair of novelty fur-lined handcuffs. Well, that’s something. The band play some more, then enjoy an instant coffee and sandwiches in the kitchen.

Then suddenly – uh oh! – the goth chick is at the door. Will she discover the four pop-punk intruders who have been enjoying her Nescafe? Nah. She opens the door and finds the room empty, with just an open window to suggest something might be astray. The goth chick seems to sigh a little, as if she was expecting a punk-pop party at her house, with the empty room instead reminding her of the emptiness of her life. Bummer.

Despite the drama around the song, the video is ok. It captures 48May’s energy and even though it has a very American sound, there’s no mistaking the very New Zealand setting of the video.

Best bit: the slow-motion food-in-mouth throw, perfect caught.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a good fry-up.