August 2007: The Brain Slaves, The Exiles, The New Freedom, The Valves, These Four Walls, Tiki Taane, Tim Finn

Colonial oppression, a walk around Auckland, DIY CGI, fireworks night, frustration, and a very physically expressive style.
Continue reading August 2007: The Brain Slaves, The Exiles, The New Freedom, The Valves, These Four Walls, Tiki Taane, Tim Finn

Found videos from 1999

Resting bitch face, actual cows, a red room, Catholic guilt, a scenic boat trip, forecourt drama, romantic Venice, an outdoor TV and and pre-millennium tension.
Continue reading Found videos from 1999

Fast Crew “I Got”

2003-fast-crew-i-gotOh hey, it’s Fast Crew! We’re introduced to their fast and furious world as the group and their posse are hanging out in the brand new Britomart Transport Centre. That area has previous been seen in Dei Hamo’s “We Gon’ Ride” video, and even earlier Semi Lemon Kola were running around the old bus depot that was demolished to make way for the new. But for the first time, the Fast Crew ventured inside, all the way down to the train platforms.

Dane Rumble kicks of the song with a performance style that reveals he has a very very wide mouth and a piece of chewing gum in it. At this stage he was using the name Kid Deft, which I don’t fully understand because Dane Rumble – his real name – is the most perfect pop star name ever. He’s easily the most charismatic of the group’s three MCs, with the other two almost blending in with the posse.

After Britomart, the group do a bit of breakdancing down a cool looking brick alley, then move on to that Housing New Zealand housing on Great North Road on Grey Lynn – before the posh apartment block was built next door. The one thing that unites the different locations in the video is some black and white check vinyl, laid down for the Crew and friends to bust a move. Things are going well, until a limo full of the Crews rivals turn up, blasting their next single, “The Incredible”. “To be continued”, a graphic threatens.

This is the second Fast Crew video (the first was for “Mr Radio”), but in a way this feels more like their debut. This song was the first of the group’s run of three top 10 hits, and it established them as a goofy yet street, nerdy but hot hip hop/pop crew that had some business to do.

Best bit: the manic face-in-camera style for the rapped bits.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a dark light.

Savant “Distance”

2003-savant-distance“Distance” is the final of Savant’s three funded videos. And like the other two (“Solitary” and “Underground”) it’s a well made video. It looks good and I’d guess Savant were very happy with it.

We find the band sitting around in a dark room, noodling on their instruments, having some lolz. The blinds in the room are pulled, but there’s a light dramatically shining outside. So goth.

One of the band members suggests calling it a day and they’re all about to pack up and leave when suddenly the lead singer says, “Hang on, boys. Just one more time.” This may have something to do with his notebook, full of scribbled lyrics and “I WILL” in thick lettering.

The band kick into it, but because the video has drawn attention to it, my focus is on the lyrics. “She said, show me all your human nature, just how deep it goes.” Whoa.

And that’s pretty much the video – the band playing in a dark room. Director Greg Riwai and DOP Geoff Andrew have done a good job playing with light. Candles and the outdoor light are used to create dramatic silhouettes, until finally the head singer notices it’s getting light outside, and the video ends with him peeking through the blinds at the outside world.

Well, yay. Savant may not have had the most original sound (this song is very reminiscent of Incubus), but their music videos were good quality.

Best bit: the notebook, a masterclass of cinema serial killer penmanship.

Director: Greg Riwai

Next… looking back and forward.

The Have “Right On”

2002-the-have-right-onStraight outta Wanganui High School, the Have were the 2002 winners of the Smokefreerockquest, appearing at just the right time to ride the wave of the rock ‘n’ roll revival. Singer Brodie and guitarist Peter appeared as almost fully formed rock stars – rugged and hairy vs skinny and enigmatic. The pair are still playing today, in the Berlin-based psychedelic band the Sun and the Wolf. And they both look exactly the name.

But back in the early ’00s, the Have were ready to rock out. Their video, part of the SFRQ prize package, sees them playing in a most unexpected location – a warehouse filled with a mountain of golden sand.

The sand’s purpose soon becomes apparent – it’s there to crumble and quiver with the sheer magnitude of the band’s rockingness, helped out by the giant speakers suspended over the band, feeling a bit like a sword of Damocles. And of course the band get to run around a bit in it, kicking up dusty clouds. I bet they were finding sand everywhere for weeks after.

This is a really confident band. It’s one thing for a teen band to have a song with lyrics like “You should be kissing my ass!”. It’s another thing for its delivery to sound so self-assured that you forget all about the teen/rockquest thing. And when a band is playing on a giant mountain of sand, it takes presence to not be outshone by the epic location.

Directed by Greg Riwai (whose name has been popping up a lot in 2002), the video was a finalist in the Breakthrough Artist category at the 2003 Juice TV Awards.

Best bit: the remote control, a gift from the sands.

To watch the video, head over to Amplifier.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… outrageous damage to a Category I historic building.

Detour “She Walked In”

2002-detour-she-walked-inDetour are a Christian rock band, signed to Parachute Records. They have since changed their name to Detour180 to make it clear that they aren’t just veering off to the side – it’s a total 180 degree detour.

“She Walked In” sounds influenced by Creed, aiming for spiritual grandness. It seems like a love song, but then with talk of a “beautiful vessel”, maybe they’re talking about Mary. Or maybe it’s just a polite way to describe a vadge.

The video is only available on the band’s website and it’s in a tiny little Flash player that can’t be expanded to full screen. So I’m left looking at wee figures rocking out in a dark warehouse while a sad African orphan looks up from a World Vision ad underneath.

So, the band are playing in front of an audience that are doing a really good job of looking like an actual audience and not friends of the band roped into helping the video. But like most music video fake audiences, everyone has their hands in the air, waving like they just don’t care. This is what I imagine Parachute was like in the early years.

At one point there’s a shot of a blonde woman standing at the back of the audience. She doesn’t really seem to be into the band. That would suck – if the subject of your love song didn’t really like your band. But as it’s so hard to see what’s going on in the video, maybe the woman does end up down by the stage, waving her hands in air.

Best bit: the “Detour” road sign leading the way to the concert.

Note: the video was previously only available in a tiny format on the band’s website, but it’s now available on the Christian video site God Tube. Thanks, God Tube!

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… basketball in the museum car park.

Craig McKenzie “Funky Little Hip Hop Angel”

2002-craig-mckenzie-funky-little-hip-hop-angelChristian musician Craig McKenzie last showed up as part of the hip hop duo Sumix, who had a funded video for their song “Jump House”. That video isn’t around, but you should go and listen to “Jump House” right now. It has the most incredibly high-energy verses, and a chorus that sounds so intensely Christian, like it ought to be headlining at Parachute ’96.

“Funky Little Hip Hop Angel” has a similar energy, but this time it’s a love song, a tale of unrequited love, when Craig spies a hot chick down at the shops.

The video follows Craig as he walks down the street, sometimes observing his Jandal-clad feet, other times revealing that he’s carrying a rabbit in a cage. As well as this, Craig’s love dilemma is illustrated by stick figures and really cheesy computer graphics.

After wandering town with his rabbit and lusting after a couple of ladies, Craig arrives at the pet store where he works (oh, so that’s why he was carrying the rabbit), and there he gives the rabbit to a little girl who’s excited to get her new pet. Well, that’s cute.

The most interesting thing about the video is that all the main players get an on-screen name caption – there’s Craig, the rabbit, the pet shop boss, but also the two chicks – Jo Price and Joy Ramirez. I like really that. Rather than just being music video hotties, they are allowed to be actual people with names.

This was Craig McKenzie’s one and only solo video to be funded, which is a kind of a pity. I will miss the crazy energy of his music and videos.

Best bit: the quadruple split-screen effect on the rabbit.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Director: Greg Riwai

Next… men of every Creed.

Katchafire “Giddy Up”

2002-katchafire-giddy-upOh, Katchafire. Previously the only Hamilton bands that had made a national impact were bogan rockers like Knightshade and Blackjack. But along came Katchafire, a roots reggae band who not only had three top-10 singles but had 18 NZ On Air-funded music video. And this is a band who has survived despite line-up changes due to what its Wikipedia entry describes as “commitments with other bands, family and religion”.

The “Giddy Up” video begins with a manifesto of sorts. They are here to bring messages of “peace and love and purity”. And that’s musical purity. “We got no DJs, no samplers. We just got some pure musicians on stage, people.” Are they talking about technology – if so, why do they not have an issue with using electric amplification? Or is it some sort of moral purity of the musicians themselves? If so, dicks.

Combined with visuals of bikers arriving at a concert, it all comes across as macho posturing. So then it’s a big surprise when the song itself starts and it’s a sweet, romantic reggae number.

There’s a bit of Katachafire performing at this concert of purity, but most of it is the band playing in a smaller room, surrounded by friends. And that comes across as a lot more enjoyable and friendly.

The song is also notable for its saxophone solo. These were a staple of pop in the ’90s, but had well died out by the ’90s. It’s like Katchafire had a saxophonist and they wanted to put a sax solo in the video and cool kids be damned. And, well, the song made it to number four in the charts.

That’s where the strength of this video seems to lie. Katchafire have this song that people love and they have their band identity and they’re absolutely sticking to that, keeping it pure. Whatever their definition of purity is.

Best bit: the giant Bob Marley poster looking down over them all.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Missing videos from 2002

February 2002

Tadpole “Now Today Forever”

The lone missing video for the February funding round is “Now Today Forever”, the second single from Tadpole’s second album, and a rather driving rock number.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

April 2002

Che Fu “Top Floor”

There’s also only one video missing from April, Che Fu’s uplifting number “Top Floor”. As it happens, I wrote a summary of this video in 2002. It sounds amazing:

Che Fu and his posse are hanging out on the front porch of a large wooden lodge. A young lady hands out pieces of chocolate cake and MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave pass out cups of instant coffee. With a very laid-back vibe, Che Fu spends most of the video sitting in a rocking chair, knitting. But just in case you think he’s turning into an old gran, in the middle of a song he turns into a robot and does a rap. But then it’s back to the porch. At the end of the song he’s finished knitting. He admires the, er, long red thing he’s made, tosses the ball of wool up in the air and it magically transforms into a snow ball and then Che’s snowboarding off into the sunset.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

June 2002

Fast Crew “Mr Radio”

Along came the Fast Crew, which included Kid Deft who later reverted to his maiden name, Dane Rumble. “Mr Radio” was their debut single, a rant about the difficulty of getting play-listed – something that would soon cease to be a problem for the Crew. The single reached #15 on the Independent NZ chart.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Fuce “Restless”

Christchurch band Fuce have their final NZOA-funded video “Restless”. The group had plans to relocate to Auckland in 2003, but I don’t know what (if anything) happened next.

In 2002 I wrote this about the “Restless” video: This video uses two visual clichés, one old, one getting old. The first is where the camera jerks about as if it’s trying to find something to focus on. The second is when the camera moves as if the power of the music is making the camera shake. Yeah, it’s a low-budget NzonAir video, but it’s looking ok. It just could have looked better if it had just shown the band playing the song, instead of all the dumb camera tricks.

Director: Aaron Hogg
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Splitter “You’re Right To Rock”

Splitter got in on the rock ‘n’ roll revival with “You’re Right To Rock” an ode to you-know-what. Sample lyrics: “Power chords are ringing like a bell!”. Aw yeah.

Subware “Into”

Subware’s final funded video was the lush “Into”, with vocals from Sandy Mills.

Theo Va’a “Little Angel”

Theo Va’a was an 10-year-old singer (dancer, entertainer, songwriter and professional model) from Palmerston North who later wowed the 2003 Christmas in the Park crowd. “Little Angel” featured Atilla Va’a, who I assume grew up to be the 130kg rugby prop asserting himself here.

August 2002

Mace & The Woodcut Crew “Shake ‘m”

“Shake ‘m” is a collaboration between rapper Mace and Auckland producers the Woodcut Crew producers. I’m going to assume it’s an instructional song about making protein shakes.

Pluto “Perfectly Evil”

Pluto have the dark and synthy “Perfectly Evil”. It’s been entertainingly used as the soundtrack for an almost wordless short film made by some year 13 students for their media studies assignment.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

October 2002

Lavina Williams featuring Emily Williams “Higher Lovin'”

Ex-Ma-V-Elle singer Lavina Williams teams up with her younger sister (and future Australian Idol star) Emily for the soul jam “Higher Lovin'”. Their sisterly harmonies sound fabulous.

December 2002

Crystal Fitisemanu “Sunny Summer’s Day”

I’m not sure if the video for Crystal Fitisemanu’s song “Sunny Summer’s Day” was made. There’s no mention of it online, but there is a brief mention of a $3000 grant in 2001 from Creative New Zealand for Crystal to record five songs.

P-Money featuring 4 Corners “The Xpedition”

“The Xpedition” is another track from P-Money’s debut album, this time featuring 4 Corners on vocals.

Rhombus “Tour Of Outer Space”

Well, Rhombus go on a “Tour of Outer Space”.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Tadpole “Always Be Mine”

“Always Be Mine” was the penultimate single released off Tadpole’s second album.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Instead…

This month’s consolation video is “Verbally Decapitating” by DJ Logikal. It was the winner of a competition that TVNZ’s after-hours music show M2 held, with the prize being a $10,000 fancy music video made for the winning track. This is a throw-back to how things were in the days before NZOA, where TVNZ (and its predecessors) made music videos for bands. Though in this case, it was a heavily promoted contest with an alcohol sponsor. The video – which is a really is a proper fancy video – sees DJ Logikal infecting downtown Auckland with his scratched-up beats, and it features pre-development Britomart for some gritty urban decay. It visually name-checks P-Money, and incorporates the song’s samples by having people on the street lip-syncing the words. The video rightly won Best Editor for James Anderson at the 2003 Kodak Music Clip Awards.

Director: James Anderson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Salmonella Dub “Tha Bromley East Roller”

2001-salmonella-dub-tha-bromley-east-rollerSalmonella Dub get all cyberpunk with their drum and bass track “Tha Bromley East Roller”. It feels like the offspring of the Headless Chickens “Donde Esta La Pollo” video, a nocturnal meeting of freaky friends.

It’s all set in a car wrecker’s yard, a quick and easy set for a music video. Among all the heaving masses, we find a sinister preacher man, a cyberpunk Tiki Taane and a Maori warrior doing some mau rakau with a taiaha.

The video also features a performer in a metal bikini, shooting sparks off herself with an angle grinder. It’s all feeling a bit like a Lollapalooza side show, circa 1992. But, ok, trends take longer to reach New Zealand. Or maybe this takes place in a postapocalyptic distant future where young women must wear spark-shooting metal bikinis for practical reasons.

For a group like Salmonella Dub that’s all very outdoorsy, these Mad Max styles actually seem like the logical way to depict the group’s adventures in D&B. There’s the drummer bashing out some tribal beats amid scrap metal, and some tight bass next to a flaming column. There we go – it’s organic…ish.

Best bit: the raver extras, recalling their favourite moments at the Gathering.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… squiggles and wiggles.