The Flying Nun Collection

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."


Nothing's Going To Happen

Tall Dwarfs, Music Video, 1981

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


Adults and Children

Gordons, Music Video, 1981

Bold lighting and caterwauling guitars push this largely black and white performance clip above others of the era. Silhouette and strobing make for a mesmerising video that deserves a consumer health warning for those affected by flashing lights. After line-up changes and much remembered live gigs, the Christchurch noise-meisters ultimately morphed into Bailterspace.    


Anything Could Happen

The Clean, Music Video, 1981

Was there a cooler band in the world than The Clean in 1982? Skinny suits, round sunglasses, video performances aping the great old Monkees' moves but tuned to the "deadpan" setting. Rubbish dump. Derelict building. Cemetery. Check. TVNZ's Andrew Shaw travelled south to Christchurch to direct this one, but he kept the clip faithful to the band's style for this now iconic tribute to indie nihilism.


Death and the Maiden

The Verlaines, Music Video, 1982

"Shall we have our photo taken?" This lo-fi classic offers up a time capsule to a long ago day down south, with The Verlaines performing in a Dunedin flat in the company of various Flying Nun friends, and a wandering pet bunny. Director/cameraman Peter Janes recalls that the clip was shot "in a beautiful old house on Stuart Street", before everyone "took off to Cargill's Castle and made it up as we went along." Vocalist Graeme Downes' 18 mentions in the chorus of a word starting with 'V' are a namecheck not only for his band, but for infamous French poet Paul Verlaine. 


The Brain that Wouldn't Die

Tall Dwarfs, Music Video, 1984

The video for this track from the Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster EP features expressionist shadows, odd science experiments in the basement, Frankenstein-like freaks, a flickering TV set, and an amateur brain transplant — demonstrating clearly that grunge-master Chris Knox is a major horror fan.


Neck of the Woods

The Great Unwashed, Music Video, 1984

The Great Unwashed were an eclectic spin-off of Flying Nun's legendary The Clean. 'Neck of the Woods' comes from the later, louder period of their short career. The accompanying video has a touch of experimental film to it. Alongside trademark Flying Nun primitive animation and stand-in guitarist Stuart Page in a loopy mask, the lyrical mentions of sun and moon are imbued by psychedelic lightshow effects, ala 2001: A Space Odyssey (undoubtably on a somewhat tighter budget). Allegedly shot at TVNZ Christchurch’s studios on the Miss New Zealand set


Husband House

Sneaky Feelings , Music Video, 1985

"The season's old and the leaves have turned to gold / And the wind blows cold from the south ..." The song is mournful, dreamy and elegiac, and so is the music video, from Steve Young. The clip features amiably laidback performances by the band members, hanging out in various Dunedin locations — including synchronised guitar dancing (a la the Shadows) on a wintry-looking beach: grey clouds, pale blue sky and a charming "out now on Flying Nun" drawn in the sand as the closing shot. The orange $50 note in the busking bowl is a notable 80s relic.


Cactus Cat

Look Blue Go Purple, Music Video, 1986

In this charming clip Look Blue Go Purple show they know how to do video clip clowning around as well as the Flying Nun menfolk. It features the Nun trademark grainy imagery, and a touch of Len Lye-style film scratching. Not surprisingly for a song called 'Cactus Cat', there are lots of shots of cactuses and cats, both real and animated. Assorted early Flying Nun luminaries make guest appearances, including a young Robert Scott. Watch out for the so-not-LA Dunedin take on the handbag dog.


She Speeds

Straitjacket Fits, Music Video, 1987

A triumph of imagination and creativity over budget, this now classic Jonathan Ogilvie clip cost just $250 to make. Coloured cellophane and a projector created the far out psychedelic look on the band members’ under-water heads, and the performance shots were done on the back of a truck going through the Lyttelton tunnel. The ever-cool Shayne Carter snarl is supported by an almost-mullet - apparently self-styled.


North by North

The Bats , Music Video, 1987

Flaming torches and streaming ribbons hanging off the front of the car are not your usual Kiwi road-trip accessories but they're perfect visuals for this classic Bats song. Not to mention the iconic whirling burning guitar on the roadside. Alongside the moving imagery, fluid camerawork tracks the band performing in front of a DIY Jackson Pollock-esque backdrop. Alister Parker (Gordons, Bailterspace), John Christoffels, and Paul Kean (The Bats) are the directorial team. The song featured in the film Topless Women Talk About Their Lives.



Snapper, Music Video, 1988

‘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, grungy, great.


Heavenly Pop Hit

The Chills, Music Video, 1990

This one is the big shiny internationally-produced Chills video, but it’s still in keeping with the band’s low-key indie style. In majestic cliff-top scenery (Ireland stands in for New Zealand) 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. Apparently Phillipps was nearly swept away by a rogue wave whilst singing furiously along to a non-existent backing-tape. The rocks were made of polystyrene.


The Face of Fashion

Chris Knox, Music Video, 1990

Indie legend Chris Knox puts the posturing of Movember to shame in this animated single-frame clip. Knox goes from long hair to no hair, hairless to hirsute, bald to bearded, and every style in between. Has there ever been a more effective choreographing of one’s own personal style and grooming? A DIY high concept masterclass of Knox's directing talents. Brilliant!



Headless Chickens, Music Video, 1990

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

Able Tasmans, Music Video, 1990

Little surprise that this Able Tasmans single starts with an extended Graeme Humphreys piano intro - the band loved keyboards. The performance-based clip goes on to showcase 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, and most of the colours of the spectrum, amidst a set of purple and yellow chequered squares.



The 3Ds, Music Video, 1993

Spooky. Indeed. In this 3Ds clip a psychedelic kaleidoscope of distorted images collapse in on each other. It feels something akin to a video recording of an experiment to capture dreams ... being played out on your eyelids: astronauts, staircases, kung fu, beards, lolling tongues, guitars being smashed with an axe ... a therapist would have a field day. But then again it's the 3Ds. And what's with the gurgling water sound at the end?



Bailterspace, Music Video, 1995

Julie Hermelin's (Sarah McLachlan, Luscious Jackson, Moby, Ben Folds Five) 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. Extraordinary processing and grainy contrast further enhance this one take time-space wonder. Note the man "reconstructing" an apple with his mouth.


Papa People

Bressa Creeting Cake, Music Video, 1997

The original concept involved a girl in love with a weta. Sadly the weta has an affair with a horse. Consequently the girl tries to metamorphosise into an insect to be with her love... of course.   "In the end I don't think anyone really gets the story. But there is a great feeling to the video. My favourite scene is where she walks around a room shutting doors, with a projection of maggots and crawlies all over the walls - it's so spooky and sad and threatening." Band member, Geoff Maddock - Feb 09


Come Back

Garageland, Music Video, 1998

Gina Birch (of Brit post-punk outfit The Raincoats) directs this clip. Forest clearing rock conventions rule: band parks tour van in forest; band gets out instruments and plays song in and around (and on top of) van, and on nearby tree stumps, laying on leaf litter; band clowns around - it's all good natural fun in the Flying Nun tradition of simple but effective music videos. 


Crystal Chain

The Subliminals, Music Video, 1999

Director Marc Swadel says he made this clip with "300 bucks and one re-used 100 foot reel of 16mm film" - but it's a triumph of style over budget. It's grungy and spacey, with a spinning glitter ball, scratched-in stars, spilt milk, and a dreamy slacker/stoner 'dance' performance from this short-lived but acclaimed Flying Nun combo.



HDU, Music Video, 2001

In this performance-based High Dependency Unit (HDU) music video, directed by Dunedin musician and visual artist Nigel Bunn, a roving fisheye camera lens provides a suitably edgy vibe. The jittery black and white visuals evoke paranoia films like Repulsion, Eraserhead, and local classic Kitchen Sink. The clip builds up a broiling intensity, through judicious use of sped-up motion, original povs, and flash cuts that match the sonic boom tempo of HDU's trademark wall of sound.