Polly Prior “Got Me On My Knees”

2004-polly-prior-got-me-on-my-kneesPolly Prior was a Wellington-based singer-songwriter and the video for “Got Me On My Knees” was another recipient of the $1500 from Positively Wellington Business for producing the video in the Wellington region.

The video starts with an intriguing premise. Polly is sitting on the roof of an old closed-down rural petrol station. She sees something coming and springs into action with her team, quickly transforming the petrol station into an open, inviting business offering “half price gas”. It’s surely a trap, like something from The Twilight Zone – but who is being trapped, and why?

It’s a middle-aged man in a fancy car. Who is he? A dad? A former lover? A boss? He’s lured into the servo’s ladies’ loos and locked in, giving Polly the chance to get in his car and go for a hoon.

And that’s it. She safely brings the car back, the man is freed from the toilet, and Polly and her gang walk away. It seems like a lot of effort to go to in order to have a ride in a fancy car.

Other videos with the $1500 Wellington grant have gone to great effort to not feature Wellington in their videos, but this is the first one where it is recognisably set in the Wellington region. Perhaps the elaborate carjacking was just done to enjoy Wellington’s coastal scenery.

Best bit: when the man is lured to the women’s toilet because plot.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… highs and lows.

Nephew “Starshingle”

2004-nephew-starshingleFormerly of the band Jester, Johnny Barker was a few years away from his debut as Shortland Street nurse Joey Henderson, who would turn out to be the evil Ferndale Strangler. When he wasn’t strangling, Barker was the frontman of Nephew. This was their only song to have NZOA funding.

The song “Starshingle” (that’s “star shingle”, not “stars hingle”) is has an indie ’90s Pixies inspired sound. The video puts the trio in the middle of something like a community hall. The camera never really engages with the band. Nephew are either shot in extreme close-up or from a distance, with the camera swirling around. It looks more like they let their made film a rehearsal, than a planned music video shoot.

The video that’s been uploaded to YouTube looks like it’s been filmed off a laptop screen – that old trick from the 48Hours film competition that teams use when they can’t export the completed laptop. Understandable in a furious film-making competition, but most unexpected to see on a band’s video.

“Starshingle” is a strong song, but the video seems to exist outside it. There’s the band and there’s the song but neither really feel connected.

In the end, the song wins and the video loses. Or like YouTube commenter Melted Ice Cream says:

love this band,
wicked album,
they should reform,
90s are cool again.

Best bit: the polished wooden floor of the hall.

Next… it’s a trap!

Heavy Jones Trio “Good to See You Again”

2004-heavy-jones-trio-good-to-see-you-againFirst, a description from the video’s director, Ivan Slavov, over at Amplifier:

“You know what it really is? It’s an anti-video. It’s a non-performance performance video. It’s Elvis Presley, lounge, Pink Flamingos. It’s Vegas. It’s nearly reality TV, but a music video. Honesty is something that New Zealand can sell to the world and this song has honesty in bucket loads.”

I read that and I thought, wow, that video sounds amazing. And then I watched it. This is what happens: the group play the song in a black studio. And that’s about it. The only other things of note: a film of an earlier performance is projected on the band, and sometimes graphics of song lyrics song float across the screen. There is no Elvisness.

The thing is, “Good to See You Again” is a really sweet folky love song. There is no loungey swagger to it, so it gets a bit lost amongst the attempted sophistication and swagger of the video.

To me, a song like this is about daylight and outdoors, not a shadowy Vegas world. The honesty might be there in the performance, but the setting is keeping it hidden.

Best bit: lead singer Kelly Horgan photographs rather well.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the old laptop trick.

Friends From Sweden “So Beautiful”

2004-friends-from-sweden-so-beautifulFriends From Sweden was the secret solo project of Mareea Paterson, who’s previously popped up in music videos as a serial session bass player for Tim Finn, Amber Claire and Jordan Luck, not to mention as part of Delta.

Friends From Sweden was Mareea’s way of having a solo project but not being the focus of it. As she told the Herald in 2006, “I’ve just got no desire to be at the front of a band. I like being the bass player.”

But along comes the “So Beautiful” video and she’s right there at the front. She’s not even competing for attention with the friends who played on the song – the rest of the band are played by mannequins, dressed in white suits and sporting Beatles haircuts. Note: this is actually more stylish than a lot of human bands manage in their videos.

Despite having a great look, the video doesn’t quite come together. Perhaps it’s because “So Beautiful” is such a lively rock song that it really needs a full band to make the some come alive. A bunch of mannequins, no matter how stylishly dressed, just aren’t rockin’.

Best bit: one of the mannequins is left-handed.


Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Elvisness (or lack thereof).

Foamy Ed “Exhale”

2004-foamy-ed-exhaleFrom memory, I’ve only comes across two other all-female bands – the sweet melodic pop of Mary and the sneering grunge of Snort. And now here’s Foamy Ed, a bold punk-pop group, with Lani of Elemeno P on bass.

Given how few all-female bands they are (though the ratio of “acts with at least one female performer” to all-male lineups is about 1:2), it’s just really refreshing to watch a video that fully embraces that all-girl world.

“Exhale” is a fierce, angry song, performed by Foamy Ed on stage at a club. But the audience aren’t all that interested in the band – there’s a fight going on. Two fans are scrapping on the dancefloor.

There’s so much energy in this video. One thing that has become apparent from watching tons of videos is there are some bands who – for whatever reason – just come across as really boring in music videos. Director Briar March has done a brilliant job in capturing Foamy Ed’s punk-arse mania.

Best bit: lead singer Fleur wears glasses and looks super cool.

Director: Briar March
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… no dummy.

Duchess “You Buried Me Alive”

2004-duchess-you-buried-me-aliveBefore there was Duchess, there was Handsome Geoffrey, a trio from Hamilton Girls’ High School who won the Smokefree Rockquest in 1998. They added Jon Corker (formerly of Rubicon) on drums, dropped the Rockquest theatrics, and emerged as Duchess, still with Anna Coddington’s melodious songwriting at the heart.

The “You Buried Me Alive” video is a simple performance video, with the band set up in a black room. Anna and Aidee have really sweet vocals, but the song has slightly dark lyrics. The video goes even darker, shot in a shadowy, gothic palette. Against this gloomy setting, Anna’s vocals sound even sweeter and more innocent, which in turn adds tension when the crunch ’90s-style guitar riffs come along.

The footage is also interrupted by animated plant roots, a dark weed twisting around the scenes. This actually seems unnecessary, like an attempt to underscore how dark and gothic things are, in case Aidee’s chipper blonde style was too distracting.

But all up, it’s a good introduction to Duchess. Sweet, girly, but a lot darker and stronger than first appearances might suggest.

Best bit: Jon’s fedora, sitting at a jaunty angle.

Director: Stephen Tolfrey

Next… girl fight.

Del Rey System “NZ to the BK”

2004-del-rey-system-nz-to-the-bkThis is my test for a music video attempting a period setting: is the hair authentic? Costumes are easy; hair is hard. “NZ to the BK” is ostensibly set at a pool party in the 1980s but does it deliver hair with vintage ’80s boofiness? Yeah, pretty much. Not everyone has it, but there are a few key performers who have sufficiently giant hair.

The pool party setting seems to have been inspired by REM’s “Imitation of Life” video, which involves a poolside scene depicted with a few seconds of the same looped and reversed footage. But “NZ to the BK” isn’t as clever as “Imitation of Life”. It’s literally just a bunch of people hanging out by a pool.

There’s a vague plot involving a bit of thuggery and a man with a pistol. Going against the law of Chekhov’s Gun, the pistol is never fired, but someone does get pushed into the pool, which is close enough.

But despite all the ’80s party antics, it doesn’t actually feel like a fun party. It is more like a group of people who have been gathered together and told to look like they’re having fun at a pool party. Which is exactly what has happened.

Best bit: one of the pool chicks casually holds a confiscated pistol as she dances.

Director: Dave Garbett
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the man with the hat.

Definite & Bling “Like That”

2004-definite-and-bling-like-thatThe Sky Tower has featured in music videos since Rikki Morris performed in front of the under-construction concrete pillar in 1995. It mainly shows up in the background of an Auckland cityscape shot, but never before has it been such a major part of the music video like it is in “Like This”.

The video opens with Base FM DJ Jason Eli giving a cool introduction to the song, then we find Definite & Bling on the streets of Auckland central at night.

Wherever they are, the Sky Tower is somewhere in the shot. Sometimes its a distant speck of light, other times they’re standing right at its base. There’s no clue in the lyrics why the Sky Tower should play such a big part in the video (it’s a generic good-time hip hop song). Given that no other humans can be seen on the empty streets of Auckland where Definite & Bling roam, maybe it’s just a declaration that they, along with the Sky Tower, own the town.

At the end of the video they leave the Sky Tower and venture indoors to a hip hop club where they rock the house. Proof, perhaps, that the lords of the Sky Tower can also mingle with the masses.

Best bit: the girl in the club who has a very concerned look on her face.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… pool party!

Autozamm “Sweet Love”

2004-autozamm-sweet-loveThis is like a low-budget James Bond title sequence. Much of the video involves a young woman wearing a bikini, sensually writing in a bathtub. But just to mix things up, all the footage of her is shot in negative.

It’s a strange world. Who takes a bath wearing a bikini? Er, contestants on Big Brother and girls in music videos. The film negative makes the footage seem less pervy and more psychedelic, but then there’s the undeniable fact that most of the footage focuses on her boobs and bum.

Autozamm haven’t performed as a band in their previous two videos, but “Sweet Love” actually sees them rocking out. Sort of. Footage of the band is layered with the bath girl so we only get tiny glimpses of them.

In positive - a girl in her undies in the bath.
In positive – a girl in her undies in the bath.

While the bath scenes do have that somewhat elegant, Bond-style feeling, that’s largely down to the effect of the film negative. Viewing the footage in positive and it’s just a girl in her togs sloshing around in a shallow bath. But maybe that would have made for a more interesting video.

The video was another recipient of the additional $1500 grant from Positively Wellington Business’s Made In Wellington scheme for producing the music video in Wellington.

Best bit: the random wide shot that reveals the girl alone in a suburban bathroom.

Director: Sam Buys
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… an icon of Auckland.

Missing videos from 2004

February 2004

The Have “What You Owe”

“What You Owe” was the third single by Rockquest winners The Have. The group were one of five New Zealand acts to perform at South by Southwest in 2004, with “What You Owe” being included in a best of SXSW CD included with UK music industry publication Music Week.

Director: Adam Jones

February 2004

Falter “Fear Of Heights”

Christchurch punk-pop band Falter, the 2003 Rockquest winners, have their second single “Fear of Heights”. The single was recorded at York Street Studios as part of their Rockquest prize package.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

June 2004

Crumb “Got It All”

The saga of the missing video for Crumb’s song “Got It All” has the best story. Basically, the band had agreed to work with a director who was planning an ambitious semi-animated video. It involved something like the lead singer performing at a gig, seeing a mysterious girl who zaps him and he’s sucked into a cartoon world. The production was all going well until the band saw the finished product. It was terrible. No one was happy. The label refused to pay and the video never saw the light of day. No known copy of it exists, just some raw footage and a few stills. One can only hope that some day “Got It All” will surface in all its glory.

Dimmer “Case”

2004-dimmer-case“Case” is the final video from Dimmer’s second album “You’ve Got to Hear the Music”. It’s one of those great Dimmer tracks that sounds like the soundtrack to the best/worst weekend. The video used to be hosted at Amplifier and a lone screenshot is all that remains.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Gramsci “Recovery”

Gramsci get gruntier with the very röck “Recovery”. 2004 feels like the tail end of the early ’00s rock revival. It will be interesting to see how much rock there is in the years to come.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Lucid 3 “Pitch Jumping”

Lucid 3’s song “Pitch Jumping” is their most popular track on Spotify, so it’s sad the video isn’t available anywhere. It’s a typically laid-back Lucid 3 track, with some cool organ playing.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

The Have “Monday Through Friday”

The Have’s song “Monday Through Friday” is another track that might not have actually had a video made, but the Rockquest winners were keeping busy and have more funding to come.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

August 2004

Heavy Jones Trio “Free”

The Heavy Jones Trio song “Free” was their second funded video and the first single off their debut album. Director Ivan Slavov vaguely but intriguingly noted that the band “gave us freedom of expression which lets us do our job.”

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Niki Ahu “Nobody Knows”

Niki Ahu won a Mai FM talent quest and had her single “Nobody Knows” produced by UK producer Colin Emmanuel. The Kiwi Hit Disk quoted Niki describing the song as “deep, grunty and heartfelt.”

Strawpeople “Love My Way”

“Love My Way” was the Strawpeople’s penultimate NZ On Air funded video, another track fro their final studio album Count Backwards from 10. The song had vocals from Leza Corban.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Visions

October 2004

No Artificial Flavours “Homeland”

“Homeland” was the follow-up single from No Artificial Flavours, but also their final NZ On Air funded video – though I’m not actually sure if a video was made. There was talk of an album, but that doesn’t seem to have happened. But I found a 2009 profile of frontman Taaz where there’s mention of new music.

Salisha Taylor “I Saw An Angel”

Young singer Salisha Taylor had her debut single “I Saw An Angel”. There’s little trace of her online, but I found a post on the soc.culture.new-zealand newsgroup where an enthusiastic member of her team described her as “a real diva but she still replies to all her fan mail.” This prompted someone to cruelly reply: “It’s good to see New Zealand music in the international spotlight. It’s a shame its shit New Zealand music.”

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

December 2004

48May “Spinning Around”

48May had funding for their song “Spinning Around”. There’s no sign of the video, but instead here’s “Into the Sun”. It seems to have been made around the same time and includes outtakes from “Home By 2”, as well as ever reliable live footage.

Red Drum “Resurrect Jim”

Red Drum was a rock band fronted by Garageland frontman Jeremy Eade and “Resurrect Jim” was their funded song. A 2003 blog from Arch Hill Recordings mentions the production of a Red Drum song called “No Cross in the Crossroads”, but there’s no sign of that either.

Director: Paul Taylor
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Rhian Sheehan feat. Gramsci, Bevan Smith & Matthew Mitchell “Miles Away”

Rhian Sheehan teamed up with Gramsci and friends for “Miles Away”.

Director: Age Pryor
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision


This month’s consolation video is Steriogram’s lively “Walkie Talkie Man”, directed by the perpetually creative French director Michel Gondry, far removed from the world of NZOA. By the mid 2000s Monsieur Gondry was well established as one of the cool-dude video directors, so he was the go-to guy for Capitol Records when they needed an impressive music video to attempt to launch Steriogram in America. The stop-motion-animated woolly world was created by production designer Lauri Faggioni and her team of knitters. (This is also a good enough place to link to Gondry’s enigmatic video for “Sugar Water” by Cibo Matto, one of my favourite videos ever.) Seeing a big budget video like this makes all the New Zealand videos set on beaches seem like roughly made home movies (and in some cases that’s just what they were). Sometimes it’s just nice to revel in the world of the fancy international music video in all its glory. (Director: Michel Gondry; Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Hey, this is the halfway point!

In almost three years, I’ve reviewed 777 videos, which is quite a lot, really. There are also 350 videos that aren’t currently available online (like the ones above), though there are definitely more videos available from the mid 2000s than there were from the early ’90s. And 57 previously awol videos have since turned up online, which is splendid. I just need to get around to catching up with those ones.

When I started 5000 Ways, I didn’t have a specific end date in mind, but I realised that I don’t want to do it forever (oh God). So I’ve decided that a good enough end goal is June 2011, the final funding round of $5000 grants before that was replaced with the current Making Tracks scheme. I’ve roughly calculated how long it’s going to take to complete it and I will reveal this: it’s going to take a bit longer than three years. It’s ok. It’s not like I have anything better to do.

The one thing this project has done is completely kill the joy of nostalgia for me. When I look at a video from the olden times, it’s like I’m seeing it how I saw it back then. And when I’m not watching old music videos, I only listen to contemporary music. Anything older than five years just makes me feel depressed. Yay.

Anyway. This is still loads of fun. Most videos are a pleasure to watch and there’s a lot of good stuff out there. The only ones I have trouble with are ones that are just really boring – because no one deliberately sets out to make a boring video. But at least now when I come across a difficult video, I can at least console myself that I’m over the hump.

Ok, on we go. Here’s a video right from the beginning, “The Beautiful Things” by the Front Lawn one of the first three to be funded.