This 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.
Part of the Dawn Raid family, Ill Semantics were a hip hop trio who had some pretty good singles. “Watching You” was based around a sample of Ardijah’s 1988 single “Watchin’ U”. (It tickles me that Ill Semantics ironed out the Princely spelling for the remake.)
The Ill Semantics video seems to take a little inspiration from Ardijah’s original, which saw the band playing in a smoky bar. But director Sophie Findlay take things further into a film noir world, with celeb cameos galore.
The video starts with a femme fatale (played by K’Lee!) hiring a private investigator Patriarch to find something in a safety deposit box. At the club, the detective’s partner, Nemesis, is on the case, as Betty-Anne is introduced on stage by Oscar Kightley.
And there begins a world of sideways glances, gunshots, fainting, car chases, tussles, snogs, and an undercover cop played by Robbie Magasiva.
In the end, K’Lee is arrested, Nemesis goes home with the hot cop leaving bar man DJ CXL and detective Patriarch at the bar. It’s way too much of a happy ending to make a satisfying ending, but for a music video, it’s ok.
Best bit: the role of the safety deposit box is played by a post office box.