David Parker “Love By Satellite”

David Parker had a lot of videos funded in the early years of NZOA funding, but they’re almost impossible to find online. So it’s very exciting to discover the space adventure of “Love By Satellite” is now available.

Directed by Jonathan King, the video takes its inspiration from 1950s sci-fi serial adventures, with David Parker playing a space hero, looking like a Thunderbird team member with snipped wires. Most of the video is shot in black and white, with period authentic papier mache planets and wobbly rocket ships. The few colours shot are David Parker outside of the space context, rocking with his guitar.

Our hero is marooned on a planet and is trying to broadcast a message to his space sweetie. The signal goes out over a good old-school style satellite (like Sputnik’s disco cousin), bounces of transmission towers and is picked up by the television at his girlfriend’s space house. Only she’s too wrapped up in reading a science fiction magazine and doesn’t notice his celestial greeting.

So what will happen? Will Astro Dave get the message through to his lady? Will she look up from her magazine? Well, as this is a serial, the video ends with the promise that the story will be “continued next week”. But that’s probably space weeks, much longer than earth weeks.

“Love By Satellite” is a sweet, country-tinged song and I like that the video has gone with a slightly unexpected treatment. But it seems to work really well, probably because both the song and the video have themes of Americana, and tales of love always have a place in science fiction.

Best bit: the quality range of model spacecraft.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a frame-up.

Strawpeople “Under the Milky Way”

1994-strawpeople-under-the-milkywayWikipedia lists 20 artists who’ve covered “Under the Milky Way”. But you know who got their first? Strawpeople, that’s who. Go, New Zealand!

Their version take away the ’80s post-punk sound of the original and gives it some smooth ’90s dance sounds. The video sticks with this vibe, making a sophisticated experience.

Stephanie Tauevihi is the star of the video, in an elegant black suit, big hair and bold make-up. When we see the other Strawpeople – Mark Tierney and Paul Casserly – they’re both playing guitars. This doesn’t normally happen in Strawpeople vids – they tend to lurk in the background, looking all mysterious. Here it’s like, oh, they’re just musicians. How disappointing.

But there’s plenty of oddness to make up for it. We see scenes of a nerdy woman hunched over a typewriter (like what I am doing *right now*, only with a laptop), a reprise of those fabulous Ioasa cheekbones, and a small boy with a globe of the world.

A lot of the footage is out of focus, as if we’re not quite allowed to see everything that’s going on. The rapidly panning camera isn’t going to show us everything. It feels like being a casual observer, with only a connection to Stephanie. Everything else that’s happening doesn’t quite concern us.

Strawpeople videos intrigue me. They simultaneously manage to seem very superficial and shallow, and yet also genuinely deep and meaningful. And I reckon that’s a perfect match for their music.

Best bit: the astronaut hugs nerd girl. Baby, he’ll take u 2 the milky way.

Directors: Mark Tierney and Paul Casserly
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the finest lady.

Cinema “Kuru”

1994-cinema-kuruThe “Kuru” video is like a tourist in Tokyo, fresh off the plane, wandering about in awe at all the amazing things they’re seeing and experiencing.

The video hangs out in a train station. Even the ordinary sight of trains rolling into the station and passengers walking along the platform takes on new depth. The video takes the ordinary busy experience of a Tokyo train station, films it in black and white and slows it right down. It’s not the experience of a local, but it’s very much that of a visiting New Zealander.

Even the local television is wondrous. We catch glimpses of ads for music videos, television drama and the ubiquitous canned coffee drinks. Filmed off a flickering CRT television screen, it again takes something commonplace and turns it into the exotic. (Just imagine a Japanese video maker using clips of Shortland Street in a vid).

Kuru is a Japanese word meaning “come”, making it very seductive, beckoning video. Here’s someone who’s in love with Tokyo and wants to share the very particular things that have made the city so appealing.

Best bit: racially awkward coffee ad.

Director: Kane Massey
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a treat between meals.

Emma Paki “Greenstone”

1994-emma-paki-greenstoneCliff Curtis stars in the follow-up to “System Virtue” (after Bully in “Once Were Warriors, before Pablo Escobar in “Blow”). Cliff plays a trouble young Maori and we first discover him sleeping in his beat-up old car. This is filmed in black and white, but a burst of colour comes in the form of Emma, who gorgeously appears in full colour, decorated in the splendours of nature (ferns and stuff).

Back in the real world, Cliff is at work on a road crew. It’s hot work and he takes a break in the shade of a tree. There, next to a stop/go sign, Emma appears in front of him, which strangely reminds me of Edward appearing before Bella in “Twlight: New Moon”.

Cliff is caught slacking off but dramatically quits and goes into town to hang out with his pals – and consciously rejects a beer. There’s some good footage around the popular music video location of Karangahape Road.

Cliff is caught mackin’ on to someone else’s girl outside the McDonald’s, and after a light scuffle he storms off, eating his feelings at the White Lady food caravan. Mid cheeseburger, Emma appears again, and this time he understands.

Because this is a New Zealand story, nothing good can ever happen in the city, and redemption can only be found in the bush. Cliff makes his way to a waterfall, where Emma appears to him for a third time, turning his black and white world into colour. She presents him with a pounamu pendant, which is just what he needs. Together they are happy.

It’s a lovely video. I also like that it’s a video that isn’t afraid to have a serious plot. Director Kerry Brown has told the story well, but includes plenty of shots of Emma Paki on her own, looking amazing.

Best bit: The brief glimpse of a Playboy cover in the dodgy second-hand bookshop in St Kevin’s Arcade.

Director: Kerry Brown
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the sound of the underground.

Fuemana “Seasons”

1994-fuemana-seasonssons”Seasons” is a tale of changed emotions, featuring brother and sister Phil and Christina Fuemana, from their influential 1994 album “New Urban Polynesian”.

The video is shot in gorgeous golden tones, simply focusing on Christina and other members of the Fuemana posse. There’s a bit of animation on screen, something that was fashionable in the early ’90s. Simple leaf animations illustrate the passing of time. In other shots, a border with the names of the seasons surrounds Christina, sometimes in English, other times in Nuiean.

While the song is sung from the perspective of a woman, the subject matter involves a man. About halfway through there’s a little spoken interlude between Christina and the man, where he tragically reveals, “I do love you, but I’m not in love with you.” I’m not totally sure, but I think the man is voiced by a pre-OMC Pauly Fuemana.

“Seasons” seems like a really good example of of kind of sound that Fuemana developed. It’s cool, contemporary dance pop but with an unmistakable South Pacific vibe. And the video is even more so.

Best bit: the tambourine with a pair of praying hands on the skin.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a career change.

Dead Flowers “Home”

1994-dead-flowers-homeIn their previous music videos, Dead Flowers have disguised their long-haired metal origins with visual trickery (grape-eating gothesses, sinister science labs!). But “Home” is taken from genuine live performance and there’s hair galore.

But that’s good. The band are enjoying themselves, the crowd is too, with the video ending on a slow-motion stage diver. It’s rare to see an actual proper live crowd in a New Zealand music videos. Not that bands aren’t capable of drawing real crowds, but lots of videos are made with fans of the band gathered to move enthusiastically on cue, shot low to disguise the lack of a large audience.

I think by this stage the Dead Flowers had gathered enough of a fan base that they could just release a music video of themselves without mucking around with any art concepts.

Also noteworthy – the video starts and ends with the band’s logo, like the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ star, but with Maori koru features and a face.

Best bit: the rotating logo, as branding is important.

Director: Kerry Brown
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the early adventures of Don.

Supergroove “Sitting Inside My Head”

1994-supergroove-sitting-inside-my-headSupergroove, average age 19, get soulful. “I walk around this town. There’s buildings closed, the windows are boarded,” Che Fu murmurs, while the band struts around a very lively looking Queen Street. Irony?

Che is given a pebbly beach to walk along, and also joins the band on a quarry, as a digger digs. The quarry scenes are filmed by a swooping helicopter. Yeah, why not? All this is cut with shots of a long-haired girl washing her hair and legs in a bowl. Doesn’t she have a bathtub? Is Che’s girlfriend a Depression-era street urchin?

Wait – the city street, the beach, the quarry, the waif – “Sitting Inside My Head” is like a drinking game of music video cliches. And yet, again, Supergroove pull it off because they totally believe in it. They are young and all they know is how to absolutely throw themselves into their work.

Best bit: the faceless hairwashing girl, like a hipster Cousin Itt.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… getting in touch with one’s metal roots.

The Mutton Birds “Anchor Me”

1994-the-mutton-birds-anchor-me“Anchor Me” was released two months after “Ngaire” but they were funding-round buddies. And like “Dominion Road”, there was also a UK version of “Anchor Me”.

The UK video sees a leather jacketed Don with his golden curls hair tamed back into a solid rock barnet. He gives the camera video sex-face while the Mutton Birds do their best to break into the lucrative UK music scene. In the foreground, goldfish swim.

Meanwhile, back in 1994, the New Zealand version is totally Don-centric, with the rest of the band absent. Don is dressed as a salty seadog, but then the nautical theme goes overboard (ha!), with blobbing lava lamp action, a boat, a rained upon car, before Don gets totally wet for the chorus.

There’s also a naked swimming lady, with visible nipples. I don’t remember there being any controversy around this video. Perhaps because no one expects there to be boobs in a Mutton Birds video, no one sees it when it happens.

I don’t quite find this video to be satisfying. The UK video make it feel like a Stereosonic song, while the original seems like a student film project.

Best bit: the faux rainy car driving.

Director: Fane Flaws
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a hard day’s work down at the quarry.

Grace “Black Sand Shore”

The Ioasa brothers return, and this time they’re spending a night at the museum. Using the grand marble halls of Auckland Museum as a dramatic backdrop, the trio pose and generally look awesome as they stand in a variety of symmetrical formations. The only other people in the museum are two very glamorous-looking women, who are probably security guards trying to track down the source of the smooth Pacifica soul they can hear wafting from the top floor.

Much of the band’s intense posing takes place outside the entrance to the exhibit formerly known as Centennial Street (later Auckland 1866, later demolished). The exhibition included replicas of ye olde Auckland business premises, and – frankly – would have made a brilliant setting for a music video. I wonder if Grace had a look around it when they were shooting the video.

The “Black Sand Shore” video is filmed in sepia tone, with a stylish and respectful feeling. I bet they were all absolutely on their best behaviour, and probably had a stern museum director saying that if anything was broken, the museum would be closed to all musicians forever.

It’s a really successful video (and probably relatively low budget) and I like to think it marks a turning point for New Zealand music videos. Don’t need no green screen.

Best bit: how incredibly amazing Auckland Museum looks.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Captain Don’s nautical adventure.

Sulata “Never”

1994-sulata-neverThere was something odd with this video and I couldn’t work out what. Then suddenly I realised – there are only two close-ups of Sulata. Most of the video is a wide shot of Suluta and her band – a double-bassist, drummer and oboe player. And it’s an awkward wide shot. The oboe player doesn’t have a lot to do and jigs about, at one stage raising the oboe to his lips, before realising there’s still a few more bars left until the oboe kicks in.

I can see what the director was trying to achieve with this video – basically, a video as cool as the very cool song. But it comes across more like CCTV footage of a band rehearsing, suddenly interrupted by a guy in a bar doing a rap.

What I’m coming to learn though the 5000 Ways project is that while it is possible to make a music video for only $5000, it takes skill to make a really good music video on that budget.

Best bit: the sudden change of setting for the rap.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a night at the museum.