Evolver “Stars”

2004-evolver-starsNot to be confused with Revolver, Evolver were a four-piece indie rock band from Dunedin. “Stars” is a twee pop tune. It was the band’s only funded video (they split up soon after) but it’s very ambitious.

The video opens with black and white footage of an elegant lady riding in a towncar at night, and she’s soon joined by three men in fedoras. I think this is supposed to present the 1920s, but they end up in a very modern lift where the elegant lady pushes a mysterious button with a spiral insignia. (Actually, it just looks like someone put a sticker over the emergency stop button, but let’s ignore that.)

With a flash, this transports the quartet to a diner in the 1950s and/or 1960s. It’s very obviously been filmed at a Burger King, with the extras seemingly kitted out in the “1950s – 1960s” rack of the local costume hire place. This is an alternate reality where a greaser from the mid-1950s, a go-go dancer from the mid-1960s and a long-haired hippy from the late ’60s all hang out together, at Burger King. This can only mean there must be a rip in the delicate fabric of the space-time continuum.

The quartet enter the lift again and this time they have ended up in a punk/goth/new wave world. The lead singer Emmanuelle looks far too cheerful to really pull of the angry punk/miserable goth hybrid style she’s got going. But hey, everyone’s having a good time dancing in the punk/goth/new wave club!

So what’s the next step? A journey forward in time to the strange future world of 2014? No, they’re going into space, to a strange world of Easter Island statues, conveyor belts, shimmery lipstick for men, and a triangular speaker stack that looks like a minimalist Christmas tree.

Up to this point, the video was a fairly ordinary low-budget music video. But the crazy future space world is so over the top and the band look so awkward that it transcends everything and just becomes a camp pleasure. Thank you, Evolver, for giving us this futuristic gift.

Best bit: the sleazy greaser, macking on all the ladies.

Director: Neil Bond

Definite & Bling “Jump Up”

2004-definite-and-bling-jump-upDespite sounding like the name of a small Grey Lynn fashion label, Definite & Bling were a hip hop duo and “Jump Up” was the first of their two NZ On Air-funded videos.

The video is pretty lacklustre. It’s animated, but done very basically. So there are lots of repeated shots and really simple scenes that look like the result of first-year polytech assignment work.

The song itself is pretty lively with a good groove to it, but the video ignores the potential in that and sets the action in a TV game show. There’s little entertainment value in frequent shots of a flashing “APPLAUSE” sign or looking at a TV camera filming the show. The muddy brown palette of the animation just further sucks the life out of it. It’s like he 1980s never happened.

The game show appears to involve the contestants answering questions, yet not only can we not hear what they’re saying, the animation isn’t advanced enough to having moving mouths. It ends up being a succession of heads nodding. So boring.

Ultimately there’s only one test: is this video more interesting than a random game show video from YouTube? Well, I can definitely say that the Japanese human Tetris game show is way more entertaining. Zero points to Definite & Bling. They get one more chance with their second video. Let’s hope they raise their game.

Also of note: this video was one of the first to receive the additional $1500 grant from Positively Wellington Business’s Made In Wellington scheme, which required the video to be produced in Wellington.

Best bit: the unveiling of the low-rider prize, a break from the tedium.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Dead End Beat “Ain’t Got You”

2004-dead-end-beat-aint-got-youThe hard rockin’ “Ain’t Got You” was the final of Dead End Beat’s four funded videos. And this one starts with something truly terrifying: ’90s style tattoos. I thought I’d successfully blocked out all those Celtic insignias, barbed wire motifs, marijuana leaf art, and “tribal” expressions. But in mere seconds this video has brought back the full horrors of the era.

The animated video starts with this showcase of ink, revealing that a tattooed spider has come to life and sets about wrecking havoc around town. There’s also something that looks like a cyber praying mantis, that obviously has issues with the spider.

After a bit of chasing around town, the cyber mantis strikes down the spider, as well as the Sky Tower. A black substance (tattoo ink? spider goo?) oozes all around the city. And from this goo springs a whole lot of new spiders who set about building a giant web to trap the mantis. But instead being devoured by the spiders, the cyber mantis just flies away.

The video is all bad-ass attitude. With the song being such a full-on rock experience, it would have benefitted from having the band actually performing in the vid. But for whatever reason instead we had this “when good tattoos go bad” situation. Perhaps the crazy spider serves as a cautionary tale against the dangers of getting bad tattoos that seem cool.

Best bit: the fall of the Sky Tower, the most original use of the landmark in a music video.

Next… a muddy game show.

Che Fu “2D”

2004-che-fu-2dChe Fu returned with his third album, Beneath the Radar, and “2D” was the lead single from that. But something had changed. While most of Che’s previous singles were top 10 hits, “2D” didn’t even chart. It doesn’t especially sound like a single, more like an undeveloped demo, devoid of any essential hooks.

The video is a bit more interesting than the song. It sets Che and his band in mysterious dark room surrounded by visualisations of sound waves and radar. There’s also something that looks like a flight deck of a Star Wars spacecraft, where a two-dimensional Che jumps around on a chair. The sci-fi references continue with Che also appearing as a grainy hologram, straight outta Star Wars.

This all sorts of fun special effects, but nothing much happens. The video concludes by breaking free from the green screen environment and moving to the outdoors. Che and the band perform atop a seaside cliff at sunset, while he sings “Am I lazy?” Well yeah, the song and the video both actually feel lazy.

Best bit: the hologram, wherein Mr Fu channels in inner Princess Leia.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… attack of the ’90s tattoos.

Betchadupa “Who’s Coming Through The Window”

2004-betachadupa-whos-coming-through-the-window“Who’s Coming Through The Window” was Betchadupa’s 11th NZOA-funded video, with the band soon coming to the organic end of its life. The video saw the band team up with Joe Lonie, and it’s like a technologically advanced version of his earlier one-take wonder videos with Goodshirt.

The video uses one continuous, stationary shot of a grimy looking dressing room. Shot in moody black and white, there’a a window, a door, a mirror that reflects that other half of the room, a shelf stack with the band’s boozy rider, and enough room for one member of Betchadupa to play.

We see different members of the band performing in the one spot, sometimes with others playing in the mirror’s reflection. While this happens, a succession of gig-goers climb in the window, steal a beer or two or three, and head out the door. There wouldn’t be any of this trouble if Betchadupa had requested a fruit platter.

The song is a slightly offbeat pop track (with hints of the Mint Chicks’ skewed sound) and the video plays with that not-quite-normal feeling. All the different layers of the video, with the window-climbers and band members sharing the same space, remind me of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, but the less said about that, the better.

Like many Joe Lonie videos, it’s a gimmick-based video with no deep meaning behind it all. But that’s fine – let the song do the talking.

Best bit: a poster advertising a band (or album?) called Deafblindness.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… something a bit sci-fi.

Missing videos from 2004

February 2004

The Have “What You Owe”

“What You Owe” was the third single by Rockquest winners The Have. The group were one of five New Zealand acts to perform at South by Southwest in 2004, with “What You Owe” being included in a best of SXSW CD included with UK music industry publication Music Week.

Director: Adam Jones

February 2004

Falter “Fear Of Heights”

Christchurch punk-pop band Falter, the 2003 Rockquest winners, have their second single “Fear of Heights”. The single was recorded at York Street Studios as part of their Rockquest prize package.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

June 2004

Crumb “Got It All”

The saga of the missing video for Crumb’s song “Got It All” has the best story. Basically, the band had agreed to work with a director who was planning an ambitious semi-animated video. It involved something like the lead singer performing at a gig, seeing a mysterious girl who zaps him and he’s sucked into a cartoon world. The production was all going well until the band saw the finished product. It was terrible. No one was happy. The label refused to pay and the video never saw the light of day. No known copy of it exists, just some raw footage and a few stills. One can only hope that some day “Got It All” will surface in all its glory.

Dimmer “Case”

2004-dimmer-case“Case” is the final video from Dimmer’s second album “You’ve Got to Hear the Music”. It’s one of those great Dimmer tracks that sounds like the soundtrack to the best/worst weekend. The video used to be hosted at Amplifier and a lone screenshot is all that remains.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Gramsci “Recovery”

Gramsci get gruntier with the very röck “Recovery”. 2004 feels like the tail end of the early ’00s rock revival. It will be interesting to see how much rock there is in the years to come.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Lucid 3 “Pitch Jumping”

Lucid 3’s song “Pitch Jumping” is their most popular track on Spotify, so it’s sad the video isn’t available anywhere. It’s a typically laid-back Lucid 3 track, with some cool organ playing.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

The Have “Monday Through Friday”

The Have’s song “Monday Through Friday” is another track that might not have actually had a video made, but the Rockquest winners were keeping busy and have more funding to come.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

August 2004

Heavy Jones Trio “Free”

The Heavy Jones Trio song “Free” was their second funded video and the first single off their debut album. Director Ivan Slavov vaguely but intriguingly noted that the band “gave us freedom of expression which lets us do our job.”

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Niki Ahu “Nobody Knows”

Niki Ahu won a Mai FM talent quest and had her single “Nobody Knows” produced by UK producer Colin Emmanuel. The Kiwi Hit Disk quoted Niki describing the song as “deep, grunty and heartfelt.”

Strawpeople “Love My Way”

“Love My Way” was the Strawpeople’s penultimate NZ On Air funded video, another track fro their final studio album Count Backwards from 10. The song had vocals from Leza Corban.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Visions

October 2004

No Artificial Flavours “Homeland”

“Homeland” was the follow-up single from No Artificial Flavours, but also their final NZ On Air funded video – though I’m not actually sure if a video was made. There was talk of an album, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. But I found a 2009 profile of frontman Taaz where there’s mention of new music.

Salisha Taylor “I Saw An Angel”

Young singer Salisha Taylor had her debut single “I Saw An Angel”. There’s little trace of her online, but I found a post on the soc.culture.new-zealand newsgroup where an enthusiastic member of her team described her as “a real diva but she still replies to all her fan mail.” This prompted someone to cruelly reply: “It’s good to see New Zealand music in the international spotlight. It’s a shame its shit New Zealand music.”

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

December 2004

48May “Spinning Around”

48May had funding for their song “Spinning Around”. There’s no sign of the video, but instead here’s “Into the Sun”. It seems to have been made around the same time and includes outtakes from “Home By 2”, as well as ever reliable live footage.

Red Drum “Resurrect Jim”

Red Drum was a rock band fronted by Garageland frontman Jeremy Eade and “Resurrect Jim” was their funded song. A 2003 blog from Arch Hill Recordings mentions the production of a Red Drum song called “No Cross in the Crossroads”, but there’s no sign of that either.

Director: Paul Taylor
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Rhian Sheehan feat. Gramsci, Bevan Smith & Matthew Mitchell “Miles Away”

Rhian Sheehan teamed up with Gramsci and friends for “Miles Away”.

Director: Age Pryor
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision


This month’s consolation video is Steriogram’s lively “Walkie Talkie Man”, directed by the perpetually creative French director Michel Gondry, far removed from the world of NZOA. By the mid 2000s Monsieur Gondry was well established as one of the cool-dude video directors, so he was the go-to guy for Capitol Records when they needed an impressive music video to attempt to launch Steriogram in America. The stop-motion-animated woolly world was created by production designer Lauri Faggioni and her team of knitters. (This is also a good enough place to link to Gondry’s enigmatic video for “Sugar Water” by Cibo Matto, one of my favourite videos ever.) Seeing a big budget video like this makes all the New Zealand videos set on beaches seem like roughly made home movies (and in some cases that’s just what they were). Sometimes it’s just nice to revel in the world of the fancy international music video in all its glory. (Director: Michel Gondry; Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Hey, this is the halfway point!

In almost three years, I’ve reviewed 777 videos, which is quite a lot, really. There are also 350 videos that aren’t currently available online (like the ones above), though there are definitely more videos available from the mid 2000s than there were from the early ’90s. And 57 previously awol videos have since turned up online, which is splendid. I just need to get around to catching up with those ones.

When I started 5000 Ways, I didn’t have a specific end date in mind, but I realised that I don’t want to do it forever (oh God). So I’ve decided that a good enough end goal is June 2011, the final funding round of $5000 grants before that was replaced with the current Making Tracks scheme. I’ve roughly calculated how long it’s going to take to complete it and I will reveal this: it’s going to take a bit longer than three years. It’s ok. It’s not like I have anything better to do.

The one thing this project has done is completely kill the joy of nostalgia for me. When I look at a video from the olden times, it’s like I’m seeing it how I saw it back then. And when I’m not watching old music videos, I only listen to contemporary music. Anything older than five years just makes me feel depressed. Yay.

Anyway. This is still loads of fun. Most videos are a pleasure to watch and there’s a lot of good stuff out there. The only ones I have trouble with are ones that are just really boring – because no one deliberately sets out to make a boring video. But at least now when I come across a difficult video, I can at least console myself that I’m over the hump.

Ok, on we go. Here’s a video right from the beginning, “The Beautiful Things” by the Front Lawn one of the first three to be funded.