Director and photographer Kerry Brown's extended résumé of images began when he was a teenage skateboarder, snapping shots of skater culture. Having directed iconic music videos for many legendary Kiwi bands, including Crowded House (Four Seasons in One Day) and The Exponents (Why Does Love Do This To Me?), he now works as a stills photographer on movie sets across the globe.
There's two sides to what I do — I can do the big studio film, and I'm just a photographer. They're spending a $100 million plus on a movie; they want somebody there every day, to shoot the shit out of everything ... but then I do the smaller films like Brooklyn, and I do all the behind the scenes as well. Kerry Brown, in a March 2016 video interview with Brian Kassler
Ralph Hotere (Te Aupōuri) is regarded as one of New Zealand's greatest artists. This documentary by Merata Mita provides a perspective on his world, largely by way of framing his extensive body of work. Hotere remains famously tight-lipped throughout, but there are interviews with artists, friends and commentators, alongside scenes of Hotere working and of his contemporary home context. Mita's impressionistic film is set to a Hirini Melbourne-directed score of jazz, māori and pop songs, and poetry reading by Hotere's first wife Cilla McQueen.
This ambitious video for Head Like a Hole's cowpunk Bruce Springsteen cover was shot by commercials company Flying Fish — at vastly more expense than the low budget recording which supplies the soundtrack. There's more than a cursory nod to U2's LA rooftop video for 'Where The Streets Have No Name' (including fake radio coverage from Channel Z). But HLAH get a higher building, and, unlike U2's guerrilla effort, the apparent blessing of the city fathers (with Mayor Mark Blumsky on site). The video marked one of the last appearances of drummer Mark 'Hidee Beast' Hamill.
Amidst a tale of despair in the city, a staunch 'no nukes' message is delivered with aplomb by Che Fu in this performance-based promo for his collaboration with hip hop legend DLT. "Come test me like a bomb straight from Murda-roa / How comes I got cyclops fish in my water / A Nation of Pacific lambs to the slaughter / Three eyes for my son and an extra foot for my daughter". Acclaimed music video director Kerry Brown uses bold urban Pacific imagery to accompany this chart-topping track with its deceptively catchy chorus: "Living in the city ain't so bad ..."
'Land of Plenty' is a love letter to Aotearoa, featuring another take on the conversational vocal stylings heard on global smash 'How Bizarre'. Channelling his Niuean father's love of NZ, Pauly Fuemana namechecks favourite streets, Mt Ruapehu, white water and "open caves that glow supreme". Taisha Khutze (now in The Lady Killers) supplies some impressive vocal stylings of her own. In 2013 co-writer Alan Jansson joined Fuemana's widow in criticising what they saw as "noticeable similarities" between this top five hit, and the song for a 'Land of Plenty, Land of Quattro' car ad.
The lyrics to this Jan Hellriegel single unveil a strange and cryptic vision of a woman who has gone very high, and possibly lost her mind en route. Kerry Brown's video takes a similiar path. Shot largely in Auckland's St Kevin's Arcade, it begins like many other music videos, although a couple of passersby appear to have wandered into the wrong scene. Then halfway through everyone transforms, and the clip bursts into a vision of fire, red lipstick, feather boas and circus performers. 'Geraldine' was the first single off Hellriegel's second album, the Australian-recorded Tremble.
This clip for Dave Dobbyn's lament about the difficulty of expressing love is a moody mix of colour, black and white, and a blue wash. Directed by Kiwi music video veteran Kerry Brown it cuts together various examples of disconnected and connected folk with a passionate performance from Dobbyn. Robyn Gallagher in her 5000 Ways blog piece on the video muses on the early 90s goatee and wonders: "[but] why dress Dave Dobbyn like a bogan dad?"
Dave Dobbyn in Concert is weighed strongly towards songs from Twist, the 1994 album that NZ Herald writer Graham Reid described as "breathtaking in its daring, ambition and reach". Dobbyn performs alongside a band which includes Twist producer Neil Finn. Although the offkilter soundscapes of the album are necessarily cut back on stage, Twist's strong musical bones remain clear. 'It Dawned on Me' showcases the curly-haired one in especially fine voice, while hit single 'Language' works wonders when stripped back to Dobbyn, Finn and twin acoustic guitars.
Released as the follow-up to Emma Paki’s acclaimed debut (‘System Virtue’) this song was produced by Neil Finn. It made it to five on the local charts. Prolific music video director Kerry Brown (Four Seasons in One Day, AEIOU) helms the redemption story. Paki — in full-colour and fern headdress — sings about the power of pounamu, while actor Cliff Curtis (Once Were Warriors, Fear the Living Dead) plays a roadie adrift in the city in black and white. When things go awry on K Road outside McDonalds, Curtis heads to the bush for spiritual succour from Paki in a waterfall.
In 2006 photographer Greg Semu was offered the first residency at indigenous museum Quai Branly in Paris. Just over a decade earlier his debut exhibition was on at Auckland Art Gallery — and he was making an award-nominated music video for the Sisters Underground, with veteran video director Kerry Brown. Set around Mangere Bridge, their clip exudes a palpable warmth, even if the lyrical references to MAC-10s and a hot and cruel June morning are nods to MC Hassanah’s Nigerian origins, rather than the South Auckland suburb. The song got to number six on the Kiwi charts.
The title track from Moana and the Moahunters’ gold-selling first album celebrates wahine and Māori cultural pride, via what singer Moana Maniapoto called “haka house music”. The fusion of traditional Māori sounds with contemporary grooves got to number nine in the charts. It was co-written with Andrew McNaughton and features vocalist Hareruia Aperahama (‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’). Kerry Brown's video cuts the group singing together with kapa haka (the acclaimed Te Waka Huia) and whānau playing. Brown also directed the video for the group’s groundbreaking ‘AEIOU’.
Supergroove's 'Scorpio Girls' hit number three on the NZ charts in 1993 and was the band's first single to attain gold record status. It was also included as the opening track on their 1994 debut album Traction. The video, directed by Supergroove bass player Joe Lonie, translates the band's sense of fun and boundless energy to the small screen, combining live performance clips with footage of the band members, armed with torches and running through the old tunnels at North Head on Auckland's North Shore.
Sam Neill narrates this documentary plotting the career of one of Aotearoa's most successful bands: from formation by Mike Chunn, Phil Judd and Tim Finn at Auckland University in 1971 to their demise in 1984, when Neil Finn walked away. The major players talk freely about good times and bad — art rock, the wayward genius of Judd (including a rare interview), Noel Crombie’s spoon playing and costume design, hard times in England and the punk backlash, the big pop hits after Neil joined, Tim’s solo album, an obsession with paper darts, and the pre-gig ritual of One For One.
This 1993 award-winner was the first Crowded House video made in New Zealand. Director Kerry Brown and producer Bruce Sheridan wanted to emphasise the surreal, fantasy elements of the song, using distinctly Kiwi imagery. Locations included beaches and dense bush on the West Coast, the plains of Central Otago and the Victorian architecture of Oamaru. Scenes of an Anzac Day ceremony and marching girls also highlight the homeland setting. Brown took inspiration from Salvador Dali paintings for the psychedelic effects that were added in post-production.
After efforts to crack the UK market in the late 80s, The Dance Exponents returned to New Zealand, rebranded themselves as The Exponents and released chart-topping 1992 album Something Beginning with C. This song was one of a series of hook-laden follow-ups to the first single — top five hit ‘Why Does Love Do this to Me?’. The Kerry Brown-directed video sees the band playing the tune in front of a kaleidoscope of cosmopolitan backdrops (New York, fairgrounds, religious icons) which loosely echo the song's lyrics. Singer Jordon Luck is in dapper Mad Hatter mode.
This was the first music video funded by New Zealand on Air. The song is a colourful plea for Māori youth to preserve their culture by learning the reo — it also doubles as a handy guide to Māori pronunciation. Director Kerry Brown created vibrant animated backgrounds to match the song’s hip-hop beats. The cameo appearances include Moana Maniapoto’s father, MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave, Mika and various crew members. The Moahunters were Mina Ripia (who went on to her own act Wai) and Teremoana Rapley (from Upper Hutt Posse, who went on to manage King Kapisi).
This infectious song about the heartache of love took Jordan Luck roughly five minutes to write in an east London squat. It was the band's first release after a brief name change to Amplifier, then a shortening to The Exponents. Despite its unlikely origins and subject matter, the song has become an enduring Kiiwi sports stadium sing-along — rivalling Dave Dobbyn's 'Loyal' for unofficial national anthem status. The song's simplicity is matched by director Kerry Brown's video, which allows the band to do what they do best, in scenic spots including Waiotapu hot springs.
Flying Nun supremo Roger Shepherd says this 1991 single release saw the Jean-Paul Sartre Experience further develop its sound and push it to a poppier place. And the sweeping melody of the chorus supports that. Largely shot in a derelict pub in central Auckland (that was subsequently demolished to make way for a high rise building), the video uses a constantly moving camera and primary colours to back up the lush sound. By now the band had shortened its name to JPS Experience and added keyboard player Russell Baillie.
This big, bright cover of British act Blue Mink's plea for multi-racial harmony and a world of "coffee coloured people" was a chart-topper for all female vocal group When the Cat's Away in November 1988. The self-produced video is heavy on 80s fluoro colours and overexposed whites, while the placement of the Cats around a single mic affords them plenty of chances to interact and enjoy each other's company (they're also seen out and about on Karangahape Road, and at a rugby league test). This cat video before cat videos overran the internet includes an actual cat.
The video for this 1986 synth-pop song sees Everything that Flies singer Dianne Swann – seen in a changing palette of colour tones – striding on the waterfront past a Greenpeace ship; intense in a restaurant, after hours; and singing in a studio with the band. An early credit for music video director Kerry Brown, the clip won Best Video at the 1986 NZ Music Awards. Song trivia: the single’s sleeve won Best Cover, and was designed by future Oscar-winning costume designer Ngila Dickson. Swann would soon join female Kiwi supergroup When the Cats Away.