The Phoenix Foundation rose from the ashes of Wellington's late-90s high school music circuit to become one of the country's most acclaimed bands. Like MacGyver (the TV show the band name references) the six-piece have brought an eclectic DIY approach to six albums of accomplished alt-pop, plus some quirky soundtracks (Boy). The Herald rated Happy Ending "one of the best examples of pop music to come out of New Zealand"; Following 2013 double album Fandango, the band's sixth long player was 2015's Give Up Your Dreams.
Taika Waititi's 80s extravaganza wouldn't have been complete without the man himself arriving on set in a DeLorean — the time-travelling car from Back to the Future. The clip for The Phoenix Foundation is another homage-packed example of lo-fi genius from the Oscar nominated director. Note how Eastern European-derived keyboardist Luke Buda is playing a 'Poland' synthesizer. Said Waititi: "I spotted the DeLorean parked near our flat in Mt Cook, and left a note under the wiper saying 'what year are you from?' Turns it was one of two owned by a local doctor."
The video for this Phoenix Foundation single features Bret McKenzie excavating a deep hole, in a landscape that evokes the work of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (although Loren Taylor's video was actually shot in a clearing close to Wellington's wind turbine). The band turns up to watch, and the man finds eye-opening liberation from his toil. Vocalist Samuel Flynn Scott credited inspiration for the song to musician Lawrence Arabia’s recipe for satisfaction: ditching dreams of success, in order to enjoy making music. The result was a finalist for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll.
From The Phoenix Foundation’s second album Pegasus, ‘Hitchcock’ is an eerie “electro noir” instrumental tribute to the great film director. Reuben Sutherland’s remarkable clip (which he shot, directed, animated and edited) features a choreographed army of Russian Lada cars — created out of images shot with a stills camera and layered 90 times. What follows is a surreal, conservation-themed revisiting of the Cold War as the electric powered Ladas of the ‘Petrol Crimes Bureau’ are pitted against a gas guzzling 4x4 (bedecked with the Stars and Stripes).
In this promo for the title track from the Phoenix Foundation's 2010 album a boy practises holding his breath, to better himself for meeting a sea nymph. It's a suitably giddy concept for a song that builds from its simple two-note intro onwards to a surging crescendo. "I'm on the sea floor / I am the mammal you adore / I'm on the sea floor, closer to the planet's core". A submarine South Coast swim and a glide through the pine trees of Wellington's Town Belt later, and our hero is united with his maiden. Directed by Nathan Hickey aka drummer for Beastwars.
This Kiwi neighbours at war ‘dramedy’ pitted the Rush family — newly arrived in Ponsonby —against the Shorts, who are long-time renters next door. Arthur Short (Patrick Wilson) is a Kiwi battler solo Dad, with two teenage daughters; Dimity Rush (Danielle Cormack) the right wing HR manager whose partner is an anaesthetist, with two teen sons. In this first episode, Dimity aspires to climb the property ladder by scheming to get the Shorts’ house as an investment doer-upper. The satire of gentrification screened on TV One on Friday nights. The cast includes Rose McIvor (iZombie).
Fly My Pretties is a musical collaboration put together by Barnaby Weir of the Black Seeds. The all-star outfit - who come together for live performances - has included members of the Phoenix Foundation, Fat Freddys Drop and Paselode. The group began as a one-off project - a sellout multimedia show performed, filmed and recorded over four nights at Bats Theatre in Wellington in 2004, which was released as a live album and DVD. The one-off nature of the project has expanded nationwide to equally well-received shows.
Christchurch born musician James Milne took Lawrence Arabia as his stage name because he wanted an outrageous persona to front his own band The Reduction Agents, after playing with The Brunettes from 2002 to 2005. He has recorded two albums as Lawrence Arabia — playing most of the instruments on both of them. In 2009, his second album ‘Chant Darling’ was the inaugural winner of the Taite Music Prize for best independently released album of the year; and his song ‘Apple Pie Bed’ (co-written with the Phoenix Foundation’s Luke Buda) won the APRA Silver Scroll.
Each episode of this TVNZ show takes a well-known Kiwi and invites them to introduce their neighbourhood. In this episode Lukasz Buda (aka Luke Buda from band The Phoenix Foundation) showcases the people who make up the central Wellington suburb of Te Aro. Holocaust survivor Clare Galambos Winter talks about finding a home in Wellington after World War II. Also interviewed are Bari Chin, then running breakdancing group Juvenate, Armenian screenprinting artist George Hajian, and Tee Phee and Keith Cheah, founders of Wellington restaurant Little Penang.
Approached to be part of a TV3 fundraising event for health research charity Cure Kids, Flight of the Conchords duo Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement volunteered to write a song. The result was ‘Feel Inside’, one of NZ’s biggest singles of 2012. The roster of talents on the track crosses the gamut: from Dave Dobbyn and Peter Ulrich to Brooke Fraser and Ruby Frost, to rappers Savage and PNC — plus sometimes classical vocalist Elizabeth Marvelly, and two bearded men from The Phoenix Foundation.