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The Flying Nun Collection

Curated by Roger Shepherd
12th March 2010

 The Flying Nun Collection

The Flying Nun Collection

 Roger Shepherd

Curated by Roger Shepherd

 

Music Video Magic

Record label Flying Nun is synonymous with Kiwi indie music, and with autonomous DIY, bottom-of-the-world creativity. This collection celebrates the label's ethos as manifested in the music videos. Selected by label founder Roger Shepherd: "A general style may have loosely evolved ... but it was simply due to limited budgets and correspondingly unlimited imaginations."

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The Flying Nun Collection

 Nothing's Going To Happen

Chris Knox mines his 1981 surroundings for this stop-motion clip, including setting fire to his lounge. On the telly are the Springboks, Tom Bradley and a Stars on 45 countdown. Two decades before Final Cut Pro, or when directors like Michel Gondry started popularising the craft aesthetic. Legend.

 Adults and Children

Bold lighting and caterwauling guitar energy make this mostly black and white performance clip rise above others of the era; strobe and silhouette make for a mesmerising collection of punk stances and shouting on the mic. Epileptics be warned.

 Anything Could Happen

An iconic tribute to slacker nihilism. Rubbish dump. Derelict building. Cemetery. Check. Skinny suits, round sunglasses; performances aping old Monkees clips but tuned to the “deadpan” setting. Was there a cooler band in the world than The Clean in 1982?

 Death and the Maiden

The high studs and bay window of a Dunedin flat frame a band performance in this Peter Janes’ clip. The band are joined by their friends, and a rabbit, who is later joined by its friends. The result is a classic video for a classic song. Includes dancing, beer and bouncing in macrocarpa.

 The Brain that Wouldn't Die

A video for a track from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP. Expressionist shadows, science experiments in the basement, Frankenstein-like freaks, a flickering TV set, and a brain transplant, feature in this mini horror movie from grunge-master Knox.

 Neck of the Woods

The Great Unwashed were an eclectic spin-off of Flying Nun's legendary The Clean. This video has a touch of experimental film to it. Alongside trademark FN primitive animation and Stuart Page in a loopy mask, are DIY 2001: A Space Odyssey light-show effects.

 Husband House

The song is mournful, dreamy and elegiac, and so is the music video - with the band hanging out in various Dunedin locations. The clip features great performances by the band, including synchronised guitar dancing a la the Shadows (in duffle coats on a grey beach).

 Cactus Cat

In this charming clip the band show they know how to do video clip clowning around as well as the Flying Nun menfolk. It features the Nun trademark grainy imagery, Len Lye-esque film scratching, lots of cactuses and cats, and a so-not-LA Dunedin take on the handbag dog.

 She Speeds

A triumph of imagination and creativity over budget, this now classic Jonathan Ogilvie clip cost just $250. Coloured cellophane and a projector created the psychedelic look on the band members’ submarine heads, and the performance shots were done on the back of a truck in Lyttelton tunnel.

 North by North

Flaming torches and streaming ribbons hanging off the car are not your usual road-trip accessories but they're perfect visuals for this classic song. Not to mention the whirling burning guitar on the roadside. Plus the band performs in front of a low rent Jackson Pollock-esque backdrop.

 Buddy

‘Buddy’ is a mean and distorted classic, and director Stuart Page’s video matches the menacing mood with imagery that includes bad-arse motorbikes, underwater sea creatures, and skulls. Grainy, grunty and great.

 Heavenly Pop Hit

The big shiny internationally-produced Chills video: in cliff-top scenery (Ireland stands in for NZ) Martin Phillipps looks like he is at the top of the world, and large rocks bounce across the screen like karaoke cues; perfect imagery to match the soaring sound of this classic pop song.

 The Face of Fashion

Knox puts Movember to shame in this animated single-frame clip. Chris Knox goes from hairless to hirsute, bald to bearded ... has there ever been a more effective choreographing of one’s own personal grooming? A DIY high concept masterclass of Knox's directing talents. Brilliant!

 Gaskrankinstation

Less Taxi Driver, more petrol pusher, this song reflects on the sometimes mundane futility of life. The clip illustrates the gaskrankin ennui, as a station attendant tells us his life story to an incessant beat. “Lady newsreader” of the day Anita McNaught makes a cameo appearance.

 Hold Me

The performance-based clip showcases the instrumental prowess of a band who were not afraid to throw in strings, horns and bagpipes, into the mix. Director Pip Anderton makes classy use of a constantly roaming camera amidst a set of purple and yellow chequered squares.

 Spooky

This 3Ds clip feels something akin to a video recording of an experiment to capture dreams being played out inside your eyelids. There’s a kaleidoscope of distorted images: astronauts, staircases, kung fu, beards, lolling tongues, guitars being axed = a therapist’s field day.

 Splat

Julie Hermelin's mesmerising video shows the band playing while NYC streetlife passes by in reverse. A clever if not confounding concept when considering the band's performance, which appears to be forwards. Note the man "reconstructing" an apple with his mouth in this one-take time-space wonder.

 Papa People

The concept involved a girl in love with a weta. Sadly the weta has an affair with a horse. Consequently the girl metamorphosises into an insect to be with her love ... “In the end I don't think anyone really gets the story. But there is a great feeling to the video.” Band member, Geoff Maddock.

 Come Back

Forest clearing rock conventions rule here: band plays song around and on van, and clowns around on tree stumps and in leaf litter etc - it's all good natural fun in the Nun tradition of simple but effective music videos. Gina Birch (of Brit post-punk outfit The Raincoats) directs.

 Crystal Chain

Marc Swadel says he made this clip with “300 bucks and one re-used 100 foot reel of 16mm film”. Features a spinning glitter ball, scratched-in stars, spilt milk, and a spaced-out 'dance' performance from this short-lived but acclaimed combo.

 Schallblüte

In this performance-based video, directed by Nigel Bunn, a roving fisheye camera lens provides a suitably edgy vibe. The broiling intensity of the clip builds through judicious use of sped-up motion, filmic black and white visuals and flash cuts that match HDU's trademark wall of sound.

Anything Could Happen

Anything Could Happen

Words from Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd, and tributes from ex-MTV Europe chief Brent Hansen and broadcaster Russell Brown.

Flying Nun on NZ On Screen

Flying Nun on NZ On Screen

Click here for the full 55 track list of Flying Nun music videos on NZ On Screen. All Nun clips are available to be embedded. Watch and share!

Heavenly Pop Hits

Heavenly Pop Hits

A documentary made to celebrate 21 years of Flying Nun; features interviews with key players, the spats and the dark-but-breezy glory.

North and South

North and South

Flying Nun provided the film soundtrack to Auckland tale Topless Women Talk About Their Lives and Dunedin-set Scarfies.

“New Zealand’s Rough Trade, Factory and Mute in one”

“New Zealand’s Rough Trade, Factory and Mute in one”

2009 Guardian article on Flying Nun: "[it's] as if being on the other side of the world meant the music was played upside down".

Shepherd and Knox

Shepherd and Knox

In ScreenTalk Roger Shepherd talks with Chris Knox, about his career, Invercargill, car-surfing and music-video-making.