June 2006: Goodnight Nurse, Greg Johnson, Hinewehi Mohi & Joel Haines, Ill Semantics, Katchafire

’06 Bonnie and Clyde, Greg’s Americana, angry graffiti, and the children (who are the future).
Continue reading June 2006: Goodnight Nurse, Greg Johnson, Hinewehi Mohi & Joel Haines, Ill Semantics, Katchafire

Found videos from 2000

A cowgirl workout, Manhattan sightseeing, poets, kitchens, cafes and that cinema in Auckland where the carpet always feels like it’s going to peel off.

Continue reading Found videos from 2000

Found videos from 1997

A fluffy bra, nightclub, a prison, a derelict swimming pool, three lifts and an escalator.
Continue reading Found videos from 1997

Bic Runga “Listening for the Weather”

2002-bic-runga-listening-for-the-weatherWith “Get Some Sleep”, Bic had a song about life as a touring musician, but the video was about the whimsical adventures of Bic’s mobile radio station. “Listening for the Weather” is another song about live on the road (and the relationships left behind), but this time the video is all about Bic’s life as a jobbing musician.

We find her on stage, cheerfully performing the song with a harmonica wired around her neck. The video makes the process of a live gig seem very workmanlike, but also satisfyingly artful. Outside of the live venues, there’s footage taken from the windows of cars and aeroplanes, scenic New Zealand, scenes from provincial streets and urban scenes. Every moment of life on the road seems glorious and cool.

The tour stops by the Opera House in Wellington and the Civic theatre in Auckland, but the old Southland Country Music Association building in Invercargill also makes an appearance. There are also quite a few shots of the different shoes Bic wears throughout her travels, but they are quite cool shoes.

“Listening for the Weather” is a pretty sedate song, and the video goes with that feeling. It seems to be a good reflection of where Bic was at the time of her Beautiful Collision songs, finding an more mature, slightly weary voice.

Note: Director Paul Casserly says the video was shot mostly on DV cam and Super 8, but that DJ Stipson “did all the really nice shots on a 16mm”.

Best bit: the glamorous old lady revelling at the Christmas parade.

Director: Paul Casserly

Next… entertaining the westies.

Strawpeople “Crying”

1994-strawpeople-cryingThe Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision describes this video as “Elaborate split screens video monitors”, which isn’t quite accurate. It’s a collection of eight boxes that play footage. To me it looks more like a digital composite rather than eight actual video monitors (and flat screen technology wasn’t that advance back then).

The video is directed by Mark Tierney and Paul Casserly, and it was a style that both would later use in videos they directed for other artists – Casserly for Greg Johnson’s “If I Swagger” and Tierney for Jan Hellriegel’s “Pure Pleasure”. And Matt Palmer used a similar style in his 1994 video for Maree Sheehan’s “Kia Tu Mahua”.

But the “Crying” video throws in an extra element. One of the boxes features Fiona McDonald singing the song straight to the camera and it’s almost totally unedited. Just a few flash cuts along the way.

The other boxes show scenes of urban Auckland. The tank farm features, back in the days when the tanks had utilitarian numbers painted on them, rather than poetic murals. Numbers feature a lot, with mysterious dates flickering across the screen and appearing on a television set in an empty room. There’s also a young women who walks around taking photos, and generally looks cool with her matt lipstick.

I like this video. I like that it’s a bit mysterious and doesn’t try to explain everything. A bit like that song.

Best bit: the giant camera the woman uses.

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

Next… a loving walk.

Tim Finn “I’ll Never Know”

2002-tim-finn-ill-never-knowThis video has a great opening – a Sanyo radio plays the end of the Radio New Zealand long-range weather forecast for the districts, wrapping up with the Chatham Islands. We find Tim Finn alone in a dressing room, getting ready for a show. I’ve always thought that the RNZ long-range forecast is just as soothing as the BBC’s shipping forecast. Blur used to listen to the shipping forecast on tour, to remind them of England. Perhaps Tim Finn is doing the same for memories of Aotearoa.

He puts on his stage clothes, a neat suit, and sings the song as he tucks in and buttons up. We also get a look at the set list. It seems to be all Split Enz songs, and if this represents a real concert, it might have been something to do with one of Split Enz 30th anniversary shows in 2002.

The video sometimes focuses on the mundane details of the dressing room – the curves of the coat rack, a shirt button, the dust on the carpet, the painting on the wall. Tim nervous paces the room, as if he’s working himself up into the state required to be Tim Finn, pop legend.

Then the song fades down, Tim pours himself a glass of wine (which he doesn’t drink), casts an eye over the set list, and then there’s a knock at the door with “Two minutes, Tim!” Hey, Mr Stage Manager. Don’t you know that the concert’s already started in Tim’s dressing room?

Maybe that’s the problem. If he’s going to be singing Split Enz songs on stage, the dressing room might be the only outlet to perform his solo material. And once the Split Enz concert is over, maybe he will return for some alone time with the wine and the weather forecast.

Best bit: Tim’s stripy socks.

Director: Paul Casserly
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… punching above his weight.

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.

Greg Johnson Set “Sun Beat Down”

The more Greg Johnson videos I see, the more appreciation I have for his video oeuvre. There are are some rippers in there and “Sun Beat Down” is one of them.

Directed by Mark Tierney and Paul Casserly, it has a slick, ’90s western feel to it, probably influenced by the work of Robert Rodriguez.

Shot with a hazy orange filter, the video is set in a dusty yard between a warehouse and a railway track and a big ol’ Cadillac pulls up. So cinematic is the setting that I was even wondering if it was shot in New Zealand, but the car’s number plate and registration sticker reveal its Aotearoan origins.

Greg gets out of the car and he is a troubled man. As he swelters under the hot noon sun, he experiences flashbacks (shot in black and white) of himself getting up to no good with an attractive young woman and another man.

Back to the orange present and we discover the woman’s body in the boot of the car. Greg grabs a spade and wanders off, presumedly to bury her. So how did she die? Well, through flashback we see Greg and the woman in bed, having a good old pash. Then he’s on top of her, thrusting away and suddenly she’s dead, making him a certified dud root. (Before I saw this video I originally predicted he’d do a sex-face in the video. I didn’t realise how accurate that would be.)

It’s a stylish world full of sharp suits and big cars. There aren’t many bands that can get away with such a bold video, but the directors ensure everything in the film looks good. And it helps that Greg Johnson plays a perfect oily crim. Just don’t end up in bed with him.

Update: Director Paul Casserly tweeted some behind-the-scenes details of the shoot. The exterior was shot at “the old AFFCO works out the back of Onehunga” and the interior was shot at Hotel DeBrett (a popular video location due to its photogenic men’s toilets that feature in other videos). Paul’s nieces play the two dancing children and the playwright Linda Chanwai-Earle is the lady in the “weird devil costume”. Richard Long was the DOP.

Best bit: the little girl doing and Irish jig by the side of the train tracks. Fiddly-dee-dee, Riverdance!

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

Next… an attempt at excitement.

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.

Bic Runga “Roll Into One”

1997-bic-runga-roll-into-oneThis was the fifth single off Bic’s mega successful album “Drive”. The video, directed by Paul Casserly, doesn’t stray too far from the style of previous Bic videos. The focus is on Bic, with a twist of quirk.

Much of the video is shot in a very bold, high-contrast black and white with elegantly framed shots of Bic being cool – tossing and turning in bed and playing her guitar. But this is mixed with footage shot in other styles – grainy black and white, sophisticated high-contrast colour (highlighting Bic’s cheekbones) and casual handheld video. The formal shots of Bic are mixed with a mosaic of the more casual footage.

And then there’s the clown. Just when things were feeling normal-ish, a clown shows up wearing a white and red suit, a fur collar, googles and a flashing light on his head. And, being a clown in a video music, he takes Polaroid pics of Bic sleeping.

I kind of like videos like this. It’s not especially ambitious, just content to showcase Bic and the song. And the clown.

Best bit: At 0:56 Bic overpronounces “one” as “Juan”, making “let the days all roll into Juan”.

Director: Paul Casserly
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… A neighbourhood serenade.