August 2009: Anna Coddington, Annah Mac, Batucada Sound Machine, Bic Runga, Black River Drive, Come To Dolly

An enchanted forest, fatherly advice, arguing over coffee, a travelling zebra salesman, a relentless onslaught, and a night at the museum.

Continue reading August 2009: Anna Coddington, Annah Mac, Batucada Sound Machine, Bic Runga, Black River Drive, Come To Dolly

February 2006: 5Star Fallout, Aaradhna, Adeaze, Anika Moa, Bic Runga

Aaradhna shakes it, Bic is an elusive chanteuse, Adeaze get romantic, Anika gets hopeful and, hey, whatever happened to guy who came second on Idol?
Continue reading February 2006: 5Star Fallout, Aaradhna, Adeaze, Anika Moa, Bic Runga

August 2005: Amber Claire, Anika Moa, Bic Runga, Breaks Co-Op, Chong Nee, Dave Yetton, Dukes

Naked Samoans go bowling, Bic’s all-star band, a dating disaster, tranquil gardens, net curtain twitching and a walk up a hill.
Continue reading August 2005: Amber Claire, Anika Moa, Bic Runga, Breaks Co-Op, Chong Nee, Dave Yetton, Dukes

Found videos from 1998

A high street strip, a gothic seductress, a cultural lesson, a bomb threat, a photo booth, a photo shoot, a cruise down the main street, a broadcast from outer space, a floaty necklace, a Harajuku girl and a mysterious staircase.
Continue reading Found videos from 1998

Bic Runga “Listening for the Weather”

2002-bic-runga-listening-for-the-weatherWith “Get Some Sleep”, Bic had a song about life as a touring musician, but the video was about the whimsical adventures of Bic’s mobile radio station. “Listening for the Weather” is another song about live on the road (and the relationships left behind), but this time the video is all about Bic’s life as a jobbing musician.

We find her on stage, cheerfully performing the song with a harmonica wired around her neck. The video makes the process of a live gig seem very workmanlike, but also satisfyingly artful. Outside of the live venues, there’s footage taken from the windows of cars and aeroplanes, scenic New Zealand, scenes from provincial streets and urban scenes. Every moment of life on the road seems glorious and cool.

The tour stops by the Opera House in Wellington and the Civic theatre in Auckland, but the old Southland Country Music Association building in Invercargill also makes an appearance. There are also quite a few shots of the different shoes Bic wears throughout her travels, but they are quite cool shoes.

“Listening for the Weather” is a pretty sedate song, and the video goes with that feeling. It seems to be a good reflection of where Bic was at the time of her Beautiful Collision songs, finding an more mature, slightly weary voice.

Note: Director Paul Casserly says the video was shot mostly on DV cam and Super 8, but that DJ Stipson “did all the really nice shots on a 16mm”.

Best bit: the glamorous old lady revelling at the Christmas parade.

Director: Paul Casserly

Next… entertaining the westies.

Bic Runga “Something Good”

2002-bic-runga-something-goodFirst, two comments from YouTube –

The uploader’s description: “Enjoyable video from 2002 which should be seen more often.”
The top-rated comment: “She comes from the lil country that could…NEW ZEALAND!”

And they both say it all, ready. It is indeed an enjoyable video, and its full of feelgood New Zealandness that goes down a treat with whatever sports-related national pride is setting the country on fire.

The video sees Bic on Cuba Street in Wellington, which had been dressed to make it look even more groovy and boho than it normally does. When the Bucket Fountain goes, it’s not a wet, messy splashstravaganza, but a joyful, light-catching water display. The video was directed by Chris Graham and was nominated for Best Video at the 2003 New Zealand Music Awards. It has a really sweet, warm Wellington-on-a-good-day feel to it, and Bic looks lovely.

But in this pleasant setting, Bic makes an alarming discovery: she’s invisible. For a professional performer, this must be an absolute nightmare. The nicely dressed businessman ignores her. The elegantly dressed kuia ignores her. The hipsters on bikes ignore her. All the stylish people of Wellington are ignoring Bic. Not even her NOM*D belt will render her visible.

What does it is the innocence of a child. A little girl happily accepts Bic’s offer of flowers that she apparently steals from a street vendor. This awesome moment inspires Bic to lift off into the air, causing all the people on the street to finally notice her. And it’s just as well that she’s wearing shorts under her dress.

But Bic’s not quite one of us. She can be seen, but is still semi-solid, as a taxi driver discovers. He seems quite upset by having driven his car through a pop singer, but Bic is on hand to comfort him. She then sets off on foot (best to stay off the road), and is followed by a group of smiling women. This leads her to being given a bunch of flowers by a young boy, at a weird pedestrian crossing where people queue in single file as they wait for the green man.

But we never find out if Bic becomes a solid, visible human, or if she just learns to live with her etherial state. Ah, such is the enchanting world of “Something Good”

Best bit: The Christophers for Crystals shop, a surely a case of nominative determinism.

More: This old-school Bic Runga fansite has a little bit about the video’s production.

Bonus: The single’s B-side was a remix of the song by Submariner, feat Tha Feelstyle. Peter McLennan has made a video for the track, using footage from the original video and clips of Tha Feelstyle from the “Hibiscus Milk” video.

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… home, work and the third place.

Love Soup “You”

1994-love-soup-youWell, this is an interesting video. Love Soup was Bic Runga’s high school band, a duo with Kelly Horgan, later of the Heavy Jones Trio. The Cashmere High pair came in third place in the 1993 Smokefreerockquest and part of the prize was a single and video to be released through Pagan Records. Only at around the same time, Sony had began to take an interest in Bic, signed her and bought her recordings from Pagan.

This left the tricky question of what to do with the “You” video. It had been funded and produced and therefore had to be broadcast. This was the old Bic and it wasn’t what she or Sony wanted to present as her New Zealand debut. So in order to tick the boxes, the video screened once, on a lazy afternoon, as a between-programme filler. No one noticed. But when it came time for Bic to properly launch her solo career later in 1995, plenty of people noticed.

The video itself focuses solely on Bic. Kelly doesn’t feature in the video at all, other than his guitar playing on the track. Bic dances around an empty house and on a rocky beach, while wearing long dresses and a garland of flowers. It’s different from the more stylish urban look she took for her solo videos. Because of this, while it’s a great song and Bic is already a skilled performer, it doesn’t quite feel like Bic Runga.

Bic is sometimes joined by a spooky figure, like a CGI shop mannequin. This CGI creature manages to make the video feel really weird. It ends with the figure attached to a wooden frame, in a crucifixion-like pose, floating off into the sky. This might actually be the most unsettling scene I’ve seen in all these videos.

The “You” video is an interesting glimpse into the early days of Bic Runga’s career. And it makes me glad that Sony were prepared to put a bit more money into her later videos.

Best bit: the weird winged creature that swoops past Bic as she emotes on the rocky shore.

Bonus: Watch the 1993 Canterbury final of the Smokefreerockquest. Love Soup start at 5:45.



Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… some yuletide beats.

Bic Runga “Get Some Sleep”

2002-bic-runga-get-some-sleepThere’s the old maxim “write what you know”, which comes with a caution in the world of pop. As soon as an artist becomes successful, their ordinary life becomes that of a constantly travelling entertainer and soon bands start writing epic songs about “the road”.

With the first single off her second album, Bic Runga had also reached that point, with this ode to the tiring routine of a promo tour. Thankfully the video avoids the temptation of showing Bic having Groundhog Day moments in record shops around America. Instead the video sees her driving around New Zealand in a mobile radio station van. And radio is so much more romantic than sleep deprivation.

As she travels through picturesque New Zealand towns, picturesque young people listen to her broadcast. It makes everyone happy. It inspires people to dance. Life is sweet.

The mobile studio’s technology is interesting. Bic plays a CD, but there’s also an LP spinning (that van must have serious shock absorbers). And occasionally we see a tiny grainy, digital shot of Bic broadcasting, which I’m guessing is a webcam shot, back when webcams were tiny and grainy.

With the chorus wondering if Bic is having fun (she believes she might be), the video gives a more definitive answer. Yes, she is. She’s hooning around the country with a dog and a dude, playing records, meeting fans and enjoying herself. And the final shot of Bic finally taking the wheel of the van makes it clear that she’s in charge.

Best bit: the appearance of dudes with stretched earlobes.

Note: There’s an alternate version of the video, which I assume was made for international audiences. It takes a more literal and more glamorous angle, with Bic rolling around on a hotel bed, before running off into a limousine. It was directed by UK director Alexander Hemming, who around the same time had directed the slick-as “Just a Little” video for UK Popstars rejects Liberty X.

Directors: Ann Kim, Graham Sinclair
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… caught on camera.

Bic Runga “Roll Into One”

1997-bic-runga-roll-into-oneThis was the fifth single off Bic’s mega successful album “Drive”. The video, directed by Paul Casserly, doesn’t stray too far from the style of previous Bic videos. The focus is on Bic, with a twist of quirk.

Much of the video is shot in a very bold, high-contrast black and white with elegantly framed shots of Bic being cool – tossing and turning in bed and playing her guitar. But this is mixed with footage shot in other styles – grainy black and white, sophisticated high-contrast colour (highlighting Bic’s cheekbones) and casual handheld video. The formal shots of Bic are mixed with a mosaic of the more casual footage.

And then there’s the clown. Just when things were feeling normal-ish, a clown shows up wearing a white and red suit, a fur collar, googles and a flashing light on his head. And, being a clown in a video music, he takes Polaroid pics of Bic sleeping.

I kind of like videos like this. It’s not especially ambitious, just content to showcase Bic and the song. And the clown.

Best bit: At 0:56 Bic overpronounces “one” as “Juan”, making “let the days all roll into Juan”.

Director: Paul Casserly
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… A neighbourhood serenade.