August 2006: Spacifix, Starlett, Steriogram, Ted Brown, The Black Seeds

Gandalf rocks the caravan, opshop finery, enchantment, a whole lot of lamps and a very long answer to an unasked question.

Spacifix “Make Things Right”

Spacifix were a cross between a vast Rockquest band (nine members, including five vocalists!), an enthusiastic Christian youth band, and a young New Zealand band like Supergroove or Nesian Mystik. They won Pasifika Beats in 2003 and had a No.11 hit with their debut single “Sunshine Day” (a reworking of the 1976 Afro-pop hippy jam by Obisida). They were huge and there was enormous hype and excitement around them. They even had their own TV series, Henderson To Hollywood, which followed the group’s attempt to make it in America (though it’s not so encouraging when the band’s biggest moment in the trailer is learning that they have a UB40 support gig in Tonga).

Their first two singles (“Sunshine Day” and “Gotta Get Like This“) weren’t funded, but their third single was. “Make Things Right” is a funky track and the video is based around the band giving an evening performance in some sort of garden bar setting. We also see shots of various band members out in Ponsonby. It’s a bit hard to keep track of everyone, even harder when they’re throwing in evil twins. (Large democratic bands are tricky to make videos around.) Weirdest part of the video – the band’s Christian roots are revealed when one of Spacifix snarls, “Oh! Who shall witness when Babylon falls?”

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Spacifix “All You Can Do”

And then weirdly enough, there’s another Spacifix track in this funding round – but it’s from 2009 (probably a song switch) which I think makes it the final Spacifix video to be funded. This is Spacifix three years after their initial burst of fame, when Hollywood didn’t happen.

The video starts with a director telling them to keep the “same energy”, suggesting that the youthful zip of earlier performances now has to be put on for the camera. The video shows Spacifix in their opshop finery performing the song in a red studio while surrounded by friends, and also out in a vintage car. The song is nothing special. This is the curse of debuting with a cover version – unless they could have hired Obisida to co-write all their songs, none of their other songs were ever going to live up to the glory of “Sunshine Day”.

Starlett “Let It Go”

Starlett are found rocking out in a loft decorated with various lamps. And this isn’t just a random design choice – it’s a plot point. An emo dude is asleep on a couch. He wakes up, barely notices the band and heads out on his bike, stopping off on the way for a Primo. This is an authentic detail of New Zealand teen dude life. What’s his mission? He picks up a lamp and brings it back to the loft. Is this adding to Starlett’s ambience? No, it’s so he can read his comic book on the couch without moving. Darn New Zealand teen dude.

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Steriogram “Just Like You”

The last time we got a good look at the hair of Tyson from Steriogram, it was shoulder-length in the “Go” video from 2004. Two years later he suddenly shows up looking like Gandalf, really long grey hair and a whispy beard. It also comes as no surprise that the band have a different sound for their second album, losing the quirk of their older stuff and going for a harder rock sound. The video has the band performing in a caravan, which seems to have the motto “If the ‘van’s a rockin, do come a-knockin'”.

Ted Brown “I Bet Myself”

In the early ’90s, Ted Brown received funding for five videos, but I’ve sadly only been able to find one of them online. But there’s better luck with his later work. Like a lot of videos from this era, the version that’s online is the one that was uploaded to the artist’s YouTube account a decade ago. The “I Bet Myself” video has elaborately staged scenes, using carnival imagery and stylish European settings. It is, as one YouTube commenter said, “enchanting”. There’s so much going on that I really wish there was a better quality version that the 240p upload from 2008.

Director: Matthew Palmer

The Black Seeds “The Answer”

There’s a lot happening in this mostly animated video. It starts off with an elaborate sandcastle of a burning war scene, then a dystopian society, symbolic dominoes, a pregnant woman, the cutting of a baby’s umbilical cord, and finally the mother cradling her baby by an apple tree. Is that the answer? By the way, this song needs to be acknowledged as having the most full-on New Zealand-accented singer of all the funded songs so far.

Director: Ed Davis
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

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