Stellar “What You Do (Bastard)”

1998-stellar-what-you-doWe last saw Stellar in 1995 with the song “Ride”. Back then they looked like a fairly ordinary rock band. Three years later they showed up with a rejigged line-up and a striking new look.

We meet the new Stellar decked out in blue and red, done to direct the eye in particular directions. Specifically, the drummer, bassist and lead guitarist are in regressive black and blue, with the guitarist using a bright red guitar. But the total focal point of the video is Boh Runga, with bright red hair, a red gown (no jeans for this rock chick) and a blue guitar and blue eye make-up.

I remember reading at the time that Boh had dyed her hair so she’d look as unlike her famous sister as she could. Well, not only does she not look not look like Bic Runga, she looks more like a fierce rock alien. It’s like she’s forgone a traditionally ‘pretty’ look and just gone for as much impact as possible. And it works.

It’s a very bold, confident video. It makes the previous incarnation of Stellar feel like some kids mucking around. This Stellar has figured out who they are and aren’t afraid to show everyone what they’re capable of.

Oh, you know what? When this song was first released, I could never work out why it had ‘bastard’ in the title. I’ve now realised this is because the chorus goes “Show the bastards what you do.” Not bouncers, buzzers, bandsaws or whatever it was I thought Boh was singing back in the day.

Best bit: Boh’s devilish double-bun hair action.

Director: Julian Boshier
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… tall, upside-down and fragile.

3 thoughts on “Stellar “What You Do (Bastard)””

  1. I had the album from which this came – and listened to it over and over (including on the rail journey from Wellington to Auckland, which was cloudy all the way) – but was never struck then by what seems obvious now: the resemblance in sound and styling to Garbage. I think this was probably part of a wider culture of music and style in which our collective imaginations featured Shirley Manson rather a lot, but it’s hard to believe it didn’t stand out at the time!

    1. I know what you mean! Perhaps back then that’s just what cool modern pop-rock sounded like, and it didn’t occur to the average listener that it had mainly come from Garbage.

  2. I sort of recall making the Garbage comparison at the time, but then and now put it down to a wider cultural thing rather than deliberate lifting. It was easy (and unfair) to say “oh they’re just ripping off Garbage”, but I don’t think it was true; coincidence rather than design.

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