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."
Chris Knox mines his immediate, 1981-era surroundings for this elaborate stop-motion clip. Record players go crazy, sleeping bags swallow people, and hardly anyone on screen seems to have a face. On the telly are Springboks and protests, plus the Ready to Roll top 20 countdown. And all this unravels a full two decades before editing programme Final Cut Pro made homespun hip again, and directors like Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep) started popularising the craft aesthetic.
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.
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.
"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 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.
The Great Unwashed were an eclectic spin-off of legendary band The Clean. 'Neck of the Woods' comes from the later, louder period of their short existence. The accompanying video has a touch of experimental film to it. Alongside trademark Flying Nun primitive animation, and stand-in guitarist Stuart Page wearing a loopy mask, the lyrical mentions of sun and moon are imbued by psychedelic lightshow effects, ala 2001: A Space Odyssey (although on a somewhat tighter budget). The video was allegedly shot at TVNZ Christchurch’s studios, on the Miss New Zealand set.
"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.
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.
A triumph of imagination and creativity over budget, this now classic Jonathan Ogilvie clip cost just $250 to make, and the song is probably their best known. Coloured cellophane and a projector created the far out psychedelic look on the band members’ underwater heads; the performance shots capture the Fits 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.
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 imagery of motion, fluid camerawork tracks the band performing in front of a DIY Jackson Pollock-esque backdrop. Alister Parker (Gordons, Bailterspace), John Chrisstoffels, and Paul Kean (The Bats) are the directorial team. The song featured in Harry Sinclair movie Topless Women Talk About Their Lives.
‘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.
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.
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!
Named after the German word for a type of gas chamber used in Nazi concentration camps, 'Gaskrankinstation' was the first single off Headless Chickens' second album Body Blow. Actor Peter Tait (Bogans, Kitchen Sink) stars as gas station attendant Ivan, whose desperate monologue drives the track, while the band play some comically tortured-looking instruments in the parking lot. Anita McNaught also makes a cameo appearance as the "lady newsreader" of Ivan's affections.
This Able Tasmans single starts with a piano intro from Graeme Humphreys (aka Graeme Hill ) — the so-called baroque popsters really loved their keyboards. The clip goes on to showcase the instrumental prowess of a band who weren't afraid to throw horns, bagpipes, and strings into the mix. The first vocal doesn't arrive until almost two minutes in! Director Phillipa Anderton captures the energy of the playing by weaving the camera above and around the musicians. The clip's use of colour is also distinctive: most obviously in a set which is revealed to be yellow and deep blue.
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?
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.
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
Band in the forest rock conventions rule, in this music promo from British video director Gina Birch (of post-punk outfit The Raincoats). Band parks their tour van in the forest; band gets out instruments, and plays song in and around (and on top of) van, and on nearby tree stumps; band clowns around and runs through the trees. It's all good natural fun, in the Flying Nun tradition of simple but effective music videos.
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.
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.