Aw yeah, the Feelers are back with the title track from their second album. Since their previous album, things had changed. The band were a couple of years older, but seem to have ditched the rock star trappings of their previous videos. In fact, this video marks the moment when James Feelers adopted the more casual look that would see him compared to political one-hit wonder Aaron Gilmore a decade later.
The video begins with a bleak hazy orange landscape, struck by sinister bolts of lightning. And I’m thinking, ok, is the video going to be set on Mars? But no. It’s earth and here comes James Feelers walking towards the camera in a t-shirt, baggy jeans and a cap, like someone who’s heading back to the car after making a pee stop on the Desert Road.
The video then alternates between James walking around some sand dunes and the rest of the band putting in a low-energy performance of the song. How low energy? The bass player is sitting down.
Finally James stumbles across a door in the middle of the sand dunes, opens it and discovers his lazy-arse band set up in a makeshift room. Crazy! Surreal! Etc! There is a TV in the room. And – get this – it has a pot plant on top. And just in case things didn’t seem weird enough, it then starts raining.
It’s like because the Feelers have ditched the eyeliner, silver trousers and giant killer punks, the music video has to pick up the slack. But I suspect that the Feelers are actually more comfortable with this casual look. After all, the chorus proudly asserts, “We communicate without any style.”
Best bit: the slow-mo O-face of James Feelers in the rain.
How did Tadpole end up making such bleak videos? Their earlier ones were lively, cool works that showcased the band’s pop-rock talents. But it seems that in later years the band got very very serious, like a teenager dying their hair black.
Yet “Nothing New” is a very stylish video, with Renee dressed as an ice princess of sorts, queen of a winter wonderland, elaborately decorated with flamingos, a bird not usually found in cold climates.
The rest of the band is arranged behind her – guitarist to the left, bassist to the right, drummer directly behind her. And here’s the thing – they barely move. All the band members stand as still as possible, moving only for the slightly effort required to play their instrument or sing. The contrast is noticeable in the chorus where it’s clearly audible that the band are rocking real hard as, yet they’re only shown doing their little twitching movements.
It results in a tension. The song is about a relationship breakdown and the video does help portray that stress, so good on the video makers for achieving that.
But there’s another part of me that is annoyed with the video. “Nothing New” is a good single, but the video shuts down a lot of the energy the song has. The visuals manage to suppress the wilder rock side and make it feel like a ballad. And, ok, Renee looks fabulous dressed as the ice queen, but I remember when she used to jump around a lot. I want Tadpole to party like it’s 1999.
Best bit: the bass player’s flick of the head, the one concession to the lure of the rhythm.
So, 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.
A while ago I was speculating that Salmonella Dub’s “Push On Thru” journey to a ski slope could be the first half of the adventure Wham continue in their “Last Christmas” video. But here’s a much more interesting second half of a winter wonderland video scenario.
“This is a Urale clan production,” declares Kapisi at the beginning, and indeed it is, a lively, fun romp in the snow directed by the man himself, produced by his sister and edited by his cousin.
The “Conversate” video is set at the Cardrona skifield (“from Krush Groove to crushed ice”), with Kapisi taking his place on a throne made of packed snow while violinist Sam Konise stands next to him, playing along. Dammit, I want an ice throne and a violinist to punctuation my rhymes. There’s also action shots of snowboarders, clips of a ski simulator video game, and DJ CXL on the cut. So already the video manages to be more amazing in the first 20 seconds than Salmonella Dub managed in the whole video.
“Conversate” is a lyrical smackdown, a declaration from Kapisi, asserting his steez as a top MC. “Standing firm in a river of blood, killing you and your homies,” he alarmingly brags. The cliche would be to set this video in an urban setting, deep in a mean-as world of tough guys.
Instead Kapisi has hit the slopes, mainly alone with his violinist and his ice throne, otherwise surrounded by fellow snowboarders. So what does this say? Is his message so powerful that it can travel from Central Otago skifields to the urban streets? Or has he come to the skifield to assert himself there, a message of warning to any wack MCs snowboarders? Or maybe he’s been exiled to the snow, driving away from the city by an MC with greater steez, leaving Kapisi to attempt to create a new life at Cardrona. I get the feeling it wouldn’t take much to be the best MC at a ski resort. But hey – only King Kapisi has a throne of ice. Super cool.
After a previous attempt at the world of music with the duo Before Friday, Dean Chandler went solo and reached 42 in the charts with debut single “Waiting”. He has a light voice, like Robbie Williams on his more playful tracks.
The video was shot in Dean’s hometown of Wellington and we him Dean sitting at a bar. He’s sitting with a beer (label turned away from camera) and has something in front of him that might be a notebook, a fancy cocktail menu or maybe even the lyrics to the song.
Dean spends most of the video sitting at the bar, alone, earnestly singing to the camera. But this is cut with scenes of him walking the rainy city streets, being all moody. There’s no excuse for it, really. In reality, he can take advantage of Wellington’s excellent public transport system and catch a bus to somewhere warm and dry.
He’s shown walking outside the Wakefield Hotel in Maginnity Street. A friend once told me this is the only street in Wellington that doesn’t feel like “Wellington”. You can’t see the hills or the sea from there, and that’s probably why it’s a popular location for film shoots. Most of the other outdoor shots are like this – locations that look cool and urban and aren’t iconic Wellington scenes.
So basically Dean waits at this bar and sings “I’m sick of waiting”. And the “you” of the song never shows up so he leaves, and from there he wanders around in the rain.
It’s a nice, inoffensive song, but the video drags it down and makes it more of a bummer than it needs to be. Like, dude, go and buy that other girl in a bar a drink and stop being such a miserable c-word.
Best bit: the Elvis sneer, a little moment of freedom.
The more mature sounding Betchadupa have the second single off their second album “The Alphabetchadupa” and another video directed by Greg Page. It has a strong guitar pop sound with crunchy garage tones. I like a good crunchy garage.
The video sees the ‘Dupa performing in front of a wall painted in vertical green-grey stripes, looking like a depressed test pattern. There are points of brighter colour from the band – Liam’s maroon trousers, Matt’s red t-shirt, Chris’ red guitar, and the orange Orange amp. With the band neatly arranged along the stage and the camera mainly shooting straight on, it’s a very pleasing rock tableau.
As the band power through their pop pleaser, there’s plenty of rock posing. And this is where the video gets a little interesting. Suddenly part of the screen will freeze. Chris will strike a particularly epic rock pose and he’s paused like that, leaving the rest of the band to play on. I’m guessing the striped background was necessitated by the need to have places to disguise the border of the frozen video. Or Liam and Joe make epic leaps while Joe and Matt coolly play on.
Capturing a band’s live energy is something that Greg Page does really well, but there’s something missing here. Maybe it’s Betchadupa themselves. They seem to be playing their instruments with the energy and concentration of someone having a gym workout. That’s all good, but where is the fun?
The video sets the scene in ordinary New Zealand. A car rolls down a leafy street, the wind blows a suburban washingline, a seagull squawks, and sheep nibble pasture. Despite the international cliches, you don’t normally see sheep in New Zealand music videos.
And we also meet Anika walking past a wall with an elaborate graffiti mural. She’s wearing a beige duffle coat over a red t-shirt, and as the scene changes (to the rural setting, to the beach) she wears the same clothes, eventually ditching the jacket on the sunny beach.
There’s clever editing between the different locations. A sip from a water bottle carries from suburbia to the West Lynn shops to the beach; a kicked can transforms into a kick into the sandy beach.
And with the exception of the few people seen in the background down at the shops, other people don’t feature in the video. This is a world where Anika Moa is the lone inhabitant.
It’s not a particularly high-concept video, and mainly seems to serve as a pleasant setting to showcase the song. It’s attractive, it’s scenic and works nicely with the song.
Best bit: the busy postie seen reflected in a shop window.
Putting a band in a car is a pretty ordinary music video trick, but with “Exit to the City”, Greg Page takes things to a whole nother level, mercilessly shoving the D4 into the back of a van.
For a start there’s no green screen or trailer involved. It’s a real van driving through the streets of Auckland. And there’s no attempt to romanticise it as a road trip. There’s the band hunched over in the van, attempting to play the song while they’re hurled about as the vans takes corners. The outside – fairly ordinary looking streets of suburban Auckland – passively passes by the background windscreen.
The van is covered with egg cartons, presumedly to offer a bit of padding as the group is bumped around. But the pulpy protection starts to fall off, with large bits of the van’s bare metal interior exposed in some shots. This band suffers for their art.
The video is amusing, but it never goes for gags, rather letting the focus be the physical comedy of a band desperately trying to stay upright and rock out in a moving vehicle.
As well as the driver and the band, Greg Page is the sixth person in the band, crouched down below the camera, with his hand popping up to adjust a rogue microphone stand, hold up a pedal and finish with an “APPLAUSE” sign. I’m going to randomly declare this to be the most legendary of Greg Page’s videos.
Best bit: the disappearing and reappearing album cover.
Wellington’s finest purveyors of barbecue reggae have the first of their many NZOA-funded videos, after debuting with the self-funded “Keep on Pushing“. “Hey Son” is a fun one, of the “dressing up in crazy costumes and doing crazy things” type that Blerta pioneered back in the 1970s, or like an above-average 48Hours entry.
So, the Black Seeds have been charged with the offence of “civil unobedience” and have gone down to the office of The Man to sort out this problem. Only the long queues and unhelpful staff mean the only way things will get sorted is with a little comedic violence.
There’s running, jumping, firing soda cans from a vending machine, and use of a rubber stamp as a weapon. There’s also proper martial arts and the use of staple guns like pistols. And amid all this chaos, band member and future Grammy winner Bret McKenzie has a FIGWIT moment as a long-haired fellow in a Michael Jackson-style military jacket.
Meanwhile, Barnaby Weir has gone from smashing up a computer monitor to getting the band to smash up the mainframe. It’s not quite as epic as Dave killing HAL in “2001”, but it’s a lot more entertaining.
Back in the main office, a tardy courier has finally turned up with an official letter cancelling the infringement notice. “We hope this reaches you before you do anything drastic,” it says. I can’t help wonder if this crazy-arse bureaucracy actually wanted the Black Seeds to come and smash up its stuff.
While their later videos were more straight-up music videos, it’s cool to have this goofy adventure as the introduction to the Seeds.
Best bit: the furious rubber-stamp action – DENIED!