Gramsci & Anika Moa “Don’t”

2003-gramsci-anika-moa-dontNeither Paul McLaney (aka Gramsci) nor Anika Moa feature in this video. Instead it’s a partially animated adventure involve a woman walking on a tightrope, a man holding the rope tight, and a sweeping panorama.

According the profile at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, the “Don’t” video was filmed in an old church, using blue tarpaulins for a DIY chroma-key background (that didn’t even work properly), with the actress playing the showgirl doing all her tightrope walking on the floor.

The background is an animated fantasy version of Wellington, tall buildings, the wide harbour but also unfamiliar snow-capped peaks. As the camera swoops around the tightrope walker, the landscape changes. NZ On Screen also notes that the background was created from still images taken by director Ed Davis.

The background and highwire drama changes and intensifies with the song, an uneasy duet. The tightrope walker does flips and tricks which – even though it’s all fake – still create a splendid tension.

And with all that tension set up, it seems inevitable that the tightrope walker would fall. She does, whooshing through an ever-changing landscape, into the arms of the man who was holding her rope. Well, that’s a happy ending.

“Don’t” won best video at the 2003 New Zealand Music Video Awards.

Best bit: the artistic balancing, impressive even on the flat.

Director: Ed Davis
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… wake up, sheep and people.

Anika Moa “Mother”

2002-anika-moa-motherThe “Mother” video takes the familiar path of the close-up lip-sync, made most famous by Sinead O’Connor in “Nothing Compares 2 U” (though without anything that would prompt an open letter from Ms O’Connor). But Anika is not alone in this. A few seconds into the song she’s joined by another version of herself. Not an evil twin, just another Anika.

While Left Anika sings most of the song, Right Anika joins in to harmonise and has a few verses of her own. Left Anika is more thoughtful and serious, but Right Anika is full of energy, unable to keep still. I like to think that this is what the Breeders were like, back when it was just the teenaged Deal sisters duetting on country songs at biker bars.

Both halves seem to have no edits in them, which means Anika was able to two different lip-syncs playing two different characters. Even though Ms Moa is known for her jolly character, she’s able to knuckle down and give a serious performance (twice!).

The song itself is an ode to Anika’s mum, so it’s nice to think that such is her feeling of aroha for her mum that took two Anikas to really convey the emotion. Awww…

Best bit: Right Anika’s moves during the dance break.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Director: Justin Pemberton

Next… life on the road.

Anika Moa “Falling In Love Again”

2002-anika-moa-falling-in-love“Falling in Love Again” is Anika Moa’s highest-equal charting single, with both it and debut “Youthful” reaching number five. It’s not hard to see why. It’s a sweet romantic song about falling in love with an old boyfriend (or indeed a girlfriend)… after having previously been a bit of a ho. The song was cowritten with James Reid of the Feelers, and was included on the soundtrack of the John Cusack/Catherine Zeta Jones romantic comedy “America’s Sweethearts”.

The video sets Anika in a world populated with lots of cute boys. Everywhere she goes, even in remote coastal New Zealand, eventually there’s a model-like boy giving her the gladeye, and she him. There’s a taxi driver (as sharp-eyed reader Lisa points out, he’s played by Antony Starr), a fisherman, an outrigger canoeist, a cyclist, and a guy who just popped down to the shops for some milk.

And weirdly enough, this doesn’t seem too unrealistic. With the exception of the taxi driver, these occupations and pastimes are not uncommon in the lives of fit young dudes. In every case, there are slow glances and flirty smiles, with the milk boy also getting a kiss on the cheek.

While the taxi driver seems to be driving around a city street (and in a left-hand-drive car), most of the video takes place well away from urban areas, on a sun-drenched beach, a green river, a pleasingly damp rugby field and a small town. I feel like this is a trope in New Zealand music videos – the video as a travelogue, highlighting the parts of New Zealand that may appeal to tourists. But where, I wonder, would tourists find the part of New Zealand occupied by flirty girls and cute boys?

Note: In 2005 Anika talked about the making of this video in a C4 Homegrown profile. She says the American label was heavily involved and flew over a director to keep an eye on things, ensuring the video was full of the aforementioned hot guys. The American also demanded that Anika be filmed from angles to make her look as skinny as possible. Ugh. Watch it here, in part three. Cheers to to Vicky for finding this clip.

Best bit: the classic New Zealand dairy, complete with a wall of red post office boxes.

Director: Justin Pemberton
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… giz a chip.

Anika Moa “Good In My Head”

2001-anika-moa-good-in-my-headThe 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.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Director: Justin Pemberton

Next… freeze frame.

Anika Moa “Youthful”

2001-anika-moa-youthfulSo here’s Anika Moa. She’s had a lot of videos funded – at least 16, but possible more. “Youthful” was her first single of her poppy, New York-recorded debut album. Legend has it that her record company were trying to push her further down the pop route, but she went “nah” and took a step back to Aotearoa. It was a good move. “Youthful” was a hit for Anika, charting at #5 and getting the 2002 APRA award as the most performed work on New Zealand radio and television.

We meet the young Ms Moa (she was only 21) standing in the hallway of an ordinary looking house. She’s dressed very casually (denim jacket and bootled trousers) with scraggly Kim Deal-style hair and no noticeable make up. Hey, it’s Anika.

But from this ordinary scene she steps into a side room and is suddenly in a winter wonderland. It’s snowing and stands wearing an ice princess version of her streetwear casual style.

Off to the other side is an autumnal themed room, with the warm colours of deciduous leaves. And this time it’s dead leaves that are falling everywhere. A house with a tree in the middle of it seems a bit weird, until you consider that Korean restaurant on Queen Street that actually has a giant tree growing up in the middle of it.

But those seasonal rooms aren’t even the strangest. No, that belongs to the room with shelves full of mason jars with sheets of A4 flapping over each jar. With preserves being rather fashionable at the moment, it all looks like some sort of cool concept restaurant.

The song, with its themes of dominion and exploitation, has a sinister edge to it and the Paul Casserly-directed video goes with that uneasy vibe. I almost don’t want Anika to venture into the weird rooms, staying in the safety of the hallways, away from the mason jars and A4.

Best bit: the leaf that hits Anika on the side of the face.

Note: In one of C4’s Homegrown profiles from 2005, Anika talks about the making of this video. She chose the treatment out of several submitted, but felt that the lower budget of the video didn’t let it look as good as was originally intended. And people told her that she looked like Beth Heke. See more here, in part two.

Director: Paul Casserley
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the caravan of love.