The D4 “What I Want”

2004-the-d4-what-i-wantWell, this is impressive. One-take wonder videos are cool and all, but when there’s a lot of stuff happening that involves very specific timing, it takes a lot of effort to get it right. Directed by Wade Shotter, the “What I Want” video puts the D4 in one place and changes the scenery around them.

In just over three minutes, the D4 go on an adventure involving a bed, a suburban living room, a blood-red rock backdrop, cheerleaders, strongmen, glitter and a disco floor, a Japanese backdrop, a political press conference, an office cubical, and back to bed.

The description at NZ On Screen notes that the shoot took one and a half days of rehearsals, was shot on film and used the 10th take. And nothing was added – what you see in the video is exactly what was filmed.

Unlike other one-take wonder videos where the novelty of the video overwhelms the song, “What I Want” seems to work well because it puts the band’s performance at the heart of video. While all this crazy business is happening around them, the D4 still get to rock out.

Best bit: the cheerleader outfits, emblazoned with the name of the NSFW opening track of the D4’s previous album, 6twenty.

Director: Wade Shotter
Nga Taonga

Next… more holiday pics.

The D4 “Sake Bomb”

2004-the-d4-sake-bombJapan loved the D4 and the D4 loved Japan so they wrote a song about one of their favourite social beverages, the sake bomb. There’s even a version with Japanese lyrics.

The 105-second song is basically about going out and getting pissed in Tokyo, but the video avoids a Japanese setting and just puts the band in a small room, whereupon they rock out. The video had various layers of animation, dripping paint, scribbles, Japanese characters, and a cartoon D4 enjoying a drink.

There have been various music videos shot in Japan, but they tend to consist of footage taken out on the streets, like a wide-eyed tourist amazed at how busy and cool Tokyo is. While “Sake Bomb” was (probably) filmed in New Zealand, it has the energy of a dumb-arse night out in Tokyo.

Best bit: the poster of the Virgin Mary, just keeping an eye over things.

Director: Wade Shotter
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… inside the anechoic chamber.

The Mint Chicks “Opium of the People”

2004-the-mint-chicks-opium-of-the-peopleThere’s something very reassuring about the Mint Chicks videos. They don’t feel like a relic of the mid ’00s. There’s still a certain freshness to them.

“Opium of the People” takes place in a studio with the backdrop decorated with an orange and white vulvic swirl. The band are sharply dressed in black and bring a twitchy but confident energy to their performance.

This is cut with a menagerie of weirdness – a topless woman (with a black bar protecting her modesty) wearing a paper mache lemon head, a person covered in green balloons, other citrus-headed person with long arms and a boombox around his neck.

In a lesser video, this would just be a mess of weirdness, but the direction of Wade Shotter (someone who knows how to have fun with the outré) and the central performance of frontman Ruban Nielson means the video is stylish and consolidated.

Best bit: the 1980s U-Matic video interference waves.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… more men in suits.

Goodshirt “Lucy”

2004-goodshirt-lucyGoodshirt’s “Lucy” video takes the form of a television current affairs story, with real-life TV journalist Amanda Miller playing the part of the reporter. She talks to three men, all of whom are obsessed with Lucy, a pretty model.

Nerdy Derek has known Lucy since primary school, is mates with Goodshirt, but somehow that’s not enough to win her over. Glen, a tattooed and pierced badboy, is obsessed with a skincare ad Lucy has done, inspiring him to get her face tattooed on his back. He seems pretty aggro, and there’s even a shot of a restraining order Lucy has taken against him. The third Lucy obsessive is Ryan, who’s in hospital with serious injuries sustained after falling off the harbour bridge while attempting to hang a banner declaring his love.

Goodshirt themselves are virtually absent from the video, appearing in a few photos with Derek and possibly as one of Glen’s tattoo clients. The video sticks so strictly to the conventions of a television current affairs story that there could easily be another version using the actual interview recordings instead of the song. There’s so much going on with the visuals (it’s the sort of video that gets better with repeat viewings) that the song tends to sink into the background, like a random track chosen by the story’s video editor.

But what’s missing from the video? Lucy herself. She exists only as photos. It’s understandable that a harassed model wouldn’t want to be part of a television story profiling three losers who are obsessed with her. But if this were a real story, there’d be some sort of behavioural expert commenting on the obsessive behaviour. And as entertaining as the three obsessives are, the video leaves me wanting to know all about Lucy.

Best bit: the blank “get wall” card some uncaring person has sent Ryan.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Goodshirt “Fiji Baby”

2004-goodshirt-fiji-baby“Fiji Baby” is a sweet song looking at relationship troubles. The title is explained in the first verse – a trip to Hamilton is made sweeter by pretending they’re heading to Fiji, baby.

The video is set in the claustrophobic world of an old-fashioned hotel room – one without the luxury of an en suite bathroom, but with the most exquisite Rococo decor. Rodney checks in, turns on the jug, stares at the wallpaper, plays his portable keyboard, goes out for a wee, makes a cup of tea and takes a nap. He evidently has a very short attention span.

While he’s asleep, he dreams of the rest of Goodshirt. They’re sitting around a table enjoying a meal while wearing animal masks. Two of them are wearing horse masks, predating the horse mask meme by several years.

Rodney wakes up and very quickly leaves the room. What did the animal head dream/nightmare reveal to him? As he power walks down the hallway, his phone rings. The video thoughtfully subtitles his quiet conversation. “Hello…? Yeah, nah, yeah.”

The video has a slightly uneasy feeling, a little bit Twin Peaks in style, which seems to symbolise the relationship stress rather than literally depict a holiday in Hammo.

And by avoiding the literal meaning of the lyrics, the song touches more people. I was interested to find a couple of heartbreaking comments on YouTube:

This is such a sad, sad, video – it makes me remember being young and poor, and the family only being able to afford to go to Hamilton 🙁

I grew up in Wairoa, Napier was a trip to the big city. Auckland seemed like a foreign land you only saw on telly.

Well, the video might sing of Hamilton, but you wouldn’t get that sort of room in the Fountain City Motor Lodge.

Best bit: the suitcase essentials – clothes, a Rubik’s cube, a knitted rabbit, and a photo of his sweetie.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a big clean-up.

The Mint Chicks “Blue Team Go”

2003-the-mint-chicks-blue-team-goHey, it’s the Mint Chicks! This is where it feels like the last remains of the ’90s have dried up and fallen off and the richness of the ’00s can begin. And yes, let these Auckland art-school hooligans lead the way.

“Blue Team Go” is a mere 77 seconds long, but that’s as long as it needs to be. (I think this actually makes it the shortest NZOA-funded video so far, beating Betchadupa’s 90 second “Bits”). And the video packs more into that 77 seconds that most videos manage in three minutes.

There’s the band playing the song in a black studio. It’s the sort of thing that’s been seen in dozens of other music videos. But suddenly Ruban yells “GO!” and the scene explodes with colour. It’s like 12 years of videos mucking around with green screen and chroma key techniques and this is the first time someone has actually done something amazing with it.

The band’s manic performance energy combined with the equally crazy graphics seem like there’s a mighty gang fight going on, the Mint Chicks versus post-production video editing techniques. The video is directed by Wade Shotter, and I’m reminded of his Augustino video “Into the Grain” where the video itself seemed on the point of disintegration.

Like Supergroove and Goodshirt, the Mint Chicks were one of those bands who made really interesting videos. It seems the philosophy these bands have is if you’re going to make a music video, you might as well do something really epic.

Best bit: the introductory title card that seems to get shaken apart by the intensity of the video.

Note: the video was on MySpace, but it’s since been removed. To watch the video, go to Ziln.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… you’re the one that I want.

Missing videos from 2003

February 2003

Dead End Beat “Nervous Bag”

Dead End Beat were basically a slightly older and wiser Breathe with a new drummer. “Nervous Bag” was their debut single.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Donald Reid “The Return”

Donald Reid is the brother of James from the Feelers. “The Return” was his debut single, though I can’t find any evidence of there having been a video made for it, though Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has an entry for the album track “No Ordinary Day”, which isn’t on the NZOA funding list.

Evermore “Pick Yourself Up”

“Pick Yourself Up” was another track from Evermore’s “Oil & Water” EP. I’m not sure if there was actually a video made, but it’s on the list.

Hendrix Warren “Empty”

I wasn’t sure if the video for Hendrix Warren’s song “Empty” existed, but I found the online CV of a camera operator, who lists the video production amongst his work history. Well, that’s good.

Director: Ivan Slavov

Pluto “On Your Own”

Pluto have “On Your Own”, another track from their album “Pipeline Under The Ocean”.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Soda “Falling Faster Now”

According to the band’s description on Amplifier, Soda’s “Falling Faster Now” video “explores the depths of Karaoke booth kitsch”. More than Rufus Wainwright’s “California” video?

The Brunettes “Boy Racer”

A few months ago The Brunettes’ “Boy Racer” video was on YouTube, but it’s since been taken down. I watched it once back then and I remember it involved the band performing at an empty theatre, as well as their backstage preparations. I mourn the loss.

Director: Daniel Monaghan
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

April 2003

50Hz “Smooth Rhodes”

More relaxing beats from 50Hz. “Smooth Rhodes” has guest vocals from Miss La.

P-Money “Go With The Flow”

There’s a P-Money track listed called “Go with the Flow”, but I can’t find any other mention of a song by that name. As far as I can tell, there were no more videos made for tracks from P-Money’s debut album Big Things.

June 2003

Brett Sawyer “Save Me Now”

“Save Me Now” was the sixth funded video that Brett Sawyer had and – surprise, surprise – it’s also the sixth of his videos to not be online. I’m very intrigued by him now. I’d love to see just one of his videos.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Carly Binding “This Is It”

Carly Binding’s single “This Is It” reached No.12 in the charts. It’s not online, but you can see her performing the song live with Donald Reid in 2006.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Dead End Beat “Tonite We Ride”

Dead End Beat have “Tonight We Ride” – not to be confused with “We Ride Tonight” by D-Super. It’s a fairly ordinary early 2000s rock ‘n’ roll number.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Emcee Lucia “All This Time”

Emcee Lucia was the first New Zealand female MC to release a solo album. “All This Time” was the first track. She’s one of those artists who had a lot of buzz at the time, but I haven’t been able to figure out if she’s done anything lately.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

August 2003

The Bads “Don’t Go Losing”

In one database this track was listed as being by Diane Swann, one half of the Bads. “Don’t Go Losing” was the duo’s first single. I’m not actually sure if a video was made for this track. A profile at NZ Musician mentions that The Bads parted ways with their record company “after several videos had been shot and were poised for release”, so that might explain it.

Evermore “Hold On”

“Hold On” was a track from Evermore’s EP “My Own Way”, their last release before their debut album “Dreams” kicked off their success in Australia.

Taisha “I’ll Go”

After appearing in OMC’s video for”Land of Plenty”, R&B songstress Taisha had the country-tinged “I’ll Go”. She’s now part of the all-star cover band the Lady Killers.

Director: Ivan Slavov

October 2003

Brooke Fraser “Lifeline”

The original version of Brooke Fraser’s “Lifeline” video is not online. From memory, it involved Brooke and her band, dressed in overalls, playing a board game called Lifeline that administered electric shocks for losing moves – like a low-budget version of the Domination game from “Never Say Never Again”. And I have this idea that it ended up Brooke winning the game and her opponents being reduced to a smouldering pile of overalls.

The video was a bit darker and yet goofier than the song required, so director Joe Lonie filmed a new video, this time with Brooke walking through scenic landscapes (with a typical Lonie twist).

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision – New Zealand version
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision – international version

Paselode “C’Mon Hallelujah”

Paselode were a rock band from Wellington. I saw them live few times in 2003 and they were always entertaining. Their songs were always about a minute too long and had one person too many playing on the track (they were a five-piece band but felt like an unwieldy ska band). “C’Mon Hallelujah” was their lone NZ On Air funded single. The band broke up shortly after, but not before the Simmonds Brothers told the band’s tumultuous story in the animated short film “The Paselode Story”.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

December 2003

There are no missing videos from December 2003!

Instead…

This month’s consolation video is the super chill “Dawnskate-88” by The Video Kid, a side project by Black Seeds and Flight of the Conchords dude Bret McKenzie. This non-NZOA-funded video shows Bret and pals having a skate down the streets of Mt Victoria, then along a deserted Lambton Quay. It’s so Wellington.

Tadpole “Rock ‘n’ Roll”

2002-tadpole-just-not-rock-n-roll“I like the girly things, I like to feel pretty” sings Renee, in this rage against stereotypes. With the last few Tadpole videos having been for pretty sedate songs, it’s nice to experience Tadpole embracing their rockier side. But because of the subject matter, this song feels like a bit of pastiche. The band being as rock-rock-rock as they can be to show that while Renee might be a bit of a nana who likes an early night, the band can still rock out when required.

So the video follows this path, showing the band at a live gig. It’s all looking pretty grunty, and Renee swaggers about the stage like a boss. But if you look close, she has these funny little white mesh puffy things atop her black singlet, which seems like something out of Astar’s craft segment on Good Morning.

This rockstravaganza progresses for about two-thirds of the video. But then suddenly things get very interesting. The band jumps on a plane and flies to East Timor to provide entertainment for New Zealand defence force personnel stationed there.

There’s a bit of footage of island life, a welcoming haka by the troops and the chance to hang out with some tanks. Then the band hit the stage. There are no fairy wings this time. Renee is sensibly dressed in a singlet and cargo pants.

All the East Timor footage is a million times more interesting than the generic Tadpole concert footage at the beginning. I’d much rather the video had taken spent more time there, rather than tacking it on the end like a postscript.

Best bit: the travel map, tracking the band’s north-western journey.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… nightmare on Alma Street.

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

P-Money feat. Scribe and 4 Corners “Synchronize Thoughts”

2001-p-money-synchronize-thoughtsSo, one afternoon in 2002 I was visiting my friend Dylan who worked in an office off Karangahape Road, sharing space with a TV production company and various other industry folk. Walking past one office, Dylz showed me a guy hard at work editing a music video. Giant orange letters floated around the screen, accompanied with the sound of Eastern European music mixed with hip hop stylings. I didn’t know what I was looking at, but there was something most intriguing about this video.

It turned out that the guy hard at work was director Wade Shotter and the video was P-Money’s second single “Synchronize Thoughts”, featuring Scribe and hip hop trio 4 Corners. It was another track that proved P-Money’s remarkable skills as a DJ and a producer, and further established Scribe as a hot young MC. Though, like previous single “Scribe 2001”, people tend to remember your name when it’s repeated throughout the chorus.

The video seems to have a somewhat higher budget than the DIY effort of “Scribe 2001”, but while it’s a simple set-up, the video has a slick, stylish look to it. The verses focus on the particular MC on vocal duty. They’re shot in the corner of a dark, shadowy room, and the minimal setting lets the lyrics stand out.

And it’s everyone in when the chorus comes along. Scribe takes the lead, with 4 Corners and P-Money backing him up. It’s a supremely confident video for a bunch of newcomers. But it’s pitched perfectly – it ain’t bragging if it’s true.

Best bit: the don’t-give-a-damn ending with just P-Money scratching.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… ice ice baby.