Found videos from the 1990s

Windswept beachiness, urban Balkan, Christchurch in the before time, racial unity, straight down, a ’90s fashion parade, tattoos, Auckland cool, velvet painting, getting seductive, and a bad lip sync.
Continue reading Found videos from the 1990s

Found videos from 1995

Let it rain 1995! There’s Supergroove on bikes, funk at the Civic, Lionel’s disappearing act, mean streets, tropical lolz, music with a message, wide lapels and an Auckland story.
Continue reading Found videos from 1995

Joint Force “Burntime”

1995-joint-force-burntimeMC OJ, Rhythm Slave and DLT return with the dub-influenced “Burntime”. Rather than the ambitiously cinematic “Static” video, “Burntime” keeps it much simpler with basic hip hop culture.

The video Ross Cunningham-directed video focuses on graffiti and breaking, letting Joint Force’s MCing and DJing take a back seat. And there’s graffiti art galore, with Otis and Mark rapping in front of giant murals, no green screen required.

Vinyl offcuts are laid down on the studio floor for some B-boy moves from the Megazoid crew. You know, there’s something very pleasing about seeing some classic breakdance moves.

There’s also good timelapse photography of a giant piece being painted by OJ, DLT and DT (aka Dan Tippett). A mural of scenic New Zealand is covered up with a new work proclaiming “BURN TIME”. It’s all very symbolic, with the great outdoors covered up with some fresh urban style.

The whole video serves as a valentine to New Zealand hip hop culture without forcing it like Scribe’s “Stand Up”. Here were a bunch of guys doing what they did and doing it well. And it worked – they’re still all part of New Zealand hip hop culture today.

Best bit: the headspin.

Director: Ross Cunningham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Greg Johnson “If I Swagger”

1995-greg-johnson-if-i-swaggerRemember the blizzard of ’96? A crapload of snow was dumped all over the eastern United States. Greg Johnson remembers it too, for it was during the snowfest that the video for “If I Swagger” was shot in New York City.

Directed by Strawpeople person Paul Casserly, the video is an elegant black and white work, filmed in the aforementioned blizzardville and grey old London. Using what looks like an old film camera, the video uses a collage of images, like memories from an old photo album.

There’s no doubt at all that the video was shot in New York and London. The two locations are boldly featured. Well, if you’re shooting a video on the other side of the world, you don’t want it to be mistaken for Wellington.

There are also glimpses of aeroplanes. This is the life of Greg Johnson, international musician of mystery. It wasn’t just for show – he’s currently based in Los Angeles, making a living from his music.

The NZOA logo gets some special treatment in this video. Rather than just sitting in the usual bottom-right corner, the logo is carefully positioned to fit with the composition of the video. That way, it doesn’t distract from the video, and nicely complements the visuals.

With so few of Greg Johnson’s many NZOA funded videos being available online, it’s nice to find a good quality version of a lovely video.

Best bit: a lone figure walks on railway tracks. It’s a music video, man.

Director: Paul Casserly
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Matty J Ruys “Cruisin'”

1995-matty-j-ruys-cruisingSome New Zealand music videos will cleverly make an ordinary bit of downtown Auckland look like Paris, London, New York or Apia. But sometimes clever camera angles aren’t just enough and a proper location shoot is needed. This time Matty J went to Miami.

Again directed by Mark Tierney, Matty J takes his cover of the smooth Smokey Robinson track to sunny Florida. Matty J hangs out in the back of a convertible, cruising with the top down. As he drives around the streets of Miami, we catch glimpses of the street life, lots of ordinary people going about their business, including girls in short shorts. This is, after all, a music video.

The video is high contast and has a strong orange filter, like a really bad Instagram filter. I assume this is meant to create a golden, sunny feeling, but it’s more like a strange post-apocalyptic sci-fi world. It would not be out of place for the tri-bosomed hooker from “Total Recall” to suddenly show up.

I remember at the time this video was released there were mutterings about the Miami location. But despite the exotic locale, it’s obvious that the video shoot itself was not expensive. It literally looks like they just drove around one afternoon and shot some stuff from the car. A video shoot in Miami? Why not.

Best bit: all the rollerbladers, cruising along.

Director: Mark Tierney
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Teremoana “Four Women”

Teremoana covers Nina Simone’s “Four Women”. Unlike the original, Teremoana omits the final lines of each verse which would name the woman being sung about. Instead of the song closing with the killer line “My name is Peaches!”, it meanders off with Teremoana murmuring “What do they call me?”

Teremoana’s vocals are laiden with trilling, which has the strange effect of making the lyrics hard to understand in places, as if she’s trying to disguise the fact that it’s actually quite an angry, political song.

The video sees Teremoana dressing as the four women. There’s Aunt Sarah with big hair and a floral dress, Saffronia with smooth hair and a stylish waistcoat, Sweet Thing with a 1960s updo, and tomboy Peaches with her hair in Bjork-style mini buns. All four women have long, talonous fingernails.

It’s filmed in black and white in a stylish cabaret setting with dramatic lighting. Teremoana performs with four quite distinct characters – Aunt Sarah is stressed and shy, Saffronia is confident, Sweet Thing is seductive, and Peaches is bold and twitchy.

The YouTube uploader notes that the song suffered from lack of radio airplay due to its lyrical themes, but says, “Thank goodness a dope ass music video was created which gave it longer television air play.” And indeed the dope assness continues online.

Best bit: Teremoana’s loooong fingernails.

Director: Ross Cunningham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a dirty old game of cards.

Pumpkinhead “Nark”

1995-pumpkinhead-narknarkPumpkinhead stick it to John Banks, who was Minister of Police at the time. Set in a claustrophobic suburban living room, the video alternates between regular footage of the band performing the song and fake-up security camera video. Because, you know, police surveillance.

The song is an extreme mash-up of styles, with a bit of Kris Kross, some Red Hot Chili Peppers, a slice of Suicidal Tendencies, a Nirvana growl and, strangely enough, some of the nu metal sound that didn’t really happen until the late ’90s.

As the band use their funk-pop-rap styles to deal with their snooping neighbours, I can’t help feel that, yeah, they were quite sincere when they made this. They really felt that they were doing something for the good of the country. And with John Banks now the loneliest MP in Parliament, perhaps Pumpkinhead did leave a bit of a legacy.

Best bit: the shocking twist ending.

Next… a four-for-one deal.

King Loser “76 Comeback”

1995-king-loser-76-comebackThe “76 Comeback” video is another one showing the influence of Quentin Tarantino. It’s styled like a 1970s exploitation film, including bold opening titles. It’s goofy but it works because King Loser are so cool. They don’t even have to try to be cool; they just are.

We follow a deadly assassin played by bassist Celia Mancini, clad in a black cat suit, complete with claws. But it’s no disguise. Because it’s the middle of the day, she sticks out, a black silhouette against the grimy grey alleys of pre-fancy Britomart.

While the wailing instrumental of “76 Comback” makes everything sound even cooler, Celia runs around, climbs, drives, shoots, kungfu kicks, explodes and wipes out her bandmates. And, just to prove she’s still on top, she finishes her busy day by changing into an evening gown and taking off on a motorcycle with a mysterious stranger.

This video could have come from no other era than the mid ’90s, but it still works as a fun, low-budget, action extravaganza.

Best bit: Celia’s stylish leap off of a street-level window ledge for no apparent reason.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Banksie is watching you.

Headless Chickens “Super Trouper”

1995-headless-chickens-super-trouperI once knew a goth guy who loved this song. He wasn’t a Headless Chickens fan or an Abba aficionado, but the power combo of the Chickens covering Abba was what did it for him. That and the “Su-pa-pa trou-pa-pa” chorus.

It’s a song about the loneliness of being a touring pop star, but it’s a situation that could apply just as much to a New Zealand indie industrial rock band. This was the first post-Fiona Chickens recording, so it makes sense that of all the songs the Headless Chickens could have chosen for Flying Nun’s “Abbasalutely” tribute album, they picked the one about the difficulties of being in a band.

The video is shot in black and white, with the band performing on an airport tarmac, including plenty of shots on top of and around planes. It’s a clever setting, a hint at the reality of life on tour: lots of aeroplanes, lots of airports.

The band are all wearing sunglasses. I’m willing to accept that it may have been a very overcast, glary day, but it also makes the Chickens look reluctant. They don’t quite want to connect with their audience, again fitting with the lyrics.

There’s something just not quite right with this. While the video looks great, it all feels a bit like a lazy effort.

Best bit: when the lively backing singer jostles her way into shot.

Director: Jonathan Ogilvie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a killer catsuit.

Dam Native “Behold My Kool Style”

1995-dam-native-behold-my-kool-styleThis video could be described as a bunch of guys sitting around a table, playing poker, smoking and drinking. And it would sound like a typical mid-’90s Tarantino-inspired music video. But no. “Behold My Kool Style” is far beyond that. It is confident, stylish and kool.

It’s not just any old guys sitting around that table; it’s Dam Native in Edwardian suits. The poker table scene alternates with shots of the group posing like early 20th century well dressed Maori gents having their portrait taken at the town photographer. Teremoana Rapley isn’t dressed from the same era, instead she’s wearing a slinky gown. It’s this little touch that firmly keeps the video routed at the other end of the 20th century.

The Jonathan King-directed and NZ Music Award-winning video is shot with sepia tone and scratchy old film effects. This makes it feel suggestive of lost footage from an alternate history, a different route the 20th century could have taken.

It takes skill to not only make a video that perfectly works with a song all about cool style, but for that video to still hold up over 15 years later. Behold its cool style.

Best bit: the group portrait. So cool.

Director: Jonathan King
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a day at the airport.