Artist

Strawpeople

Strawpeople emerged from the corridors of student radio, where founders Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney met in 1985 after swapping academia for jobs at what is now bFM. The studio-based recording outfit utilised an impressive line-up of vocalists, including Stephanie Tauevihi, Fiona McDonald (Headless Chickens) and Bic Runga. Strawpeople released six albums beginning with 1991's Hemisphere, plus distinctive covers of John Hiatt's 'Have a Little Faith in Me' and The Church's 'Under the Milky Way'. After the departure of Tierney in 1996, the final three albums were led by Casserly alone.  

Under the Milky Way

Strawpeople, Music Video, 1994

Stephanie Tauevihi (Shortland Street) was vocalist of choice on this cover of Australian band The Church's biggest hit. Strawpeople founders Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney cast themselves in unlikely roles as guitarists, and share the directing duties on this typically stylish video. It captures the song’s sense of emptiness and disconnection in its tale of an astronaut’s love (although the song’s original inspiration was an Amsterdam club, not the astral Milky Way). The woman in spectacles with the mysterious office machine is played by DJ/actor Phoebe Falconer.

Sweet Disorder

Strawpeople, Music Video, 1995

Strawpeople Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney took themselves to Hong Kong (with guest vocalist Leza Corban) for this video. Corban's jazzy vocal and the chilled beats contrast with the hustle and bustle of the cityscape (still under the flight path of Kai Tak airport at the time). The trumpet is courtesy of Greg Johnson and the sampled voice is Richard Nixon talking to the Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon. Co-written by Tierney and Casserly with Anthony Ioasa, Sweet Disorder won the 1995 APRA Silver Scroll for songwriting, plus the songwriting gong at the 1996 NZ Music Awards.

Trick with a Knife

Strawpeople, Music Video, 1994

This black and white video is certainly not the first to adopt the patented 'are these images connected, or is it all a trick' approach. A woman crouches in a nightgown; a man waits in an expensive looking chair; a confident woman in a distinctive dress enters the room, possibly for the cash. Taken from 1994's Broadcast, probably Strawpeople's most successful album, 'Trick with a Knife' features vocals by Fiona McDonald. Strawpeople founders Mark Tierney and Paul Casserly make fleeting appearances.

Beautiful Skin

Strawpeople, Music Video, 1995

Vocalist Victoria Kelly is very much the focus of this moody Strawpeople video. Singing enigmatically of dreams, knives and possible obsession— and magically changing outfits off camera, in patented music vid style  she performs in a shadowy, red-lit dive for an audience that consists of Strawpeople founders Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney. Tierney left the group in 1996. Plans for Victoria Kelly to take on a bigger role in Strawpeople would be derailed by her increasingly busy career as a film composer. ‘Beautiful Skin’ was composed by Strawpeople collaborator Greg Johnson.

Taller Than God

Strawpeople, Music Video, 1996

Director Justin Pemberton takes this love song by Paul Casserly and Fiona McDonald (from fourth Strawpeople album Vicarious) and transforms it into an exercise in noir influenced, brooding unease. His video takes place over a night at a rural motel (with McDonald as a receptionist, and Casserly up to no good with a range of medical equipment). A tarot card-reading, yoga-practising new-ager, a traveller with unexplained cages, and random appearances from stringed instrument-playing senior citizens contribute to the growing sense of disquiet.

One Good Reason

The Swingers, Music Video, 1979

The Swingers have long been umbilically tied to one composition: 1981 chart-topper 'Counting the Beat’. But the band's debut single makes clear that their gift for percussive pop was there from the start. The accompanying video sees the trio getting down to it in their union jack-emblazoned shirts; the lyrics channel the same kind of sexual frustration as Stones classic ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. The result is arguably in the same realm of catchy. After reaching number 19 in NZ, ‘One Good Reason’ featured in Aussie film Starstruck. Strawpeople later released a funked up version.

Juice

Headless Chickens, Music Video, 1994

Co-written by lead singer Fiona McDonald, 'Juice' celebrates the days when she watched morning music shows as a child. Alongside scenes of children playing outside, things take a more sinister turn indoors, with one particularly nightmarish sequence showing her younger self restrained in a dentist’s chair. 'Juice' was released paired with Chickens song 'Choppers', and won Single of the Year at the 1994 NZ Music Awards. It was originally recorded by McDonald’s other band, Strawpeople, under the title 'Dreamchild'. It featured on 1994 Strawpeople album Broadcast.

A Bit After Ten - Series One, Episode 11

Television, 1993 (Full Length)

It's the first semi-final in the first series of this stand-up comedy talent quest presented by Jeremy and Nigel Corbett (who assert their edgy, early 90s credentials with a running gag about Nirvana). Judges Ian Harcourt, Theresa Healey and Strawpeople's Mark Tierney preside over a line-up comprising a very composed Michele A'Court, mildcore rappers Hip Hips, The Back Garden, Jo Randerson (in angry-ish feminist mode), a particularly hirsute Jon Bridges and eventual winner Late Night Mike (with Harcourt generating as many laughs as the contestants).

Tonight

TrueBliss, Music Video, 1999

This dance pop anthem was a number one for the reality TV series-generated act TrueBliss — and the biggest selling single by a New Zealand artist in 1999. It was written (like most of the TrueBliss album) by Anthony Ioasa, an APRA Silver Scroll winning co-writer for Strawpeople's 'Sweet Disorder'. The video features a girls' night in slumber party, complete with home movies, hairbrush microphones, pillow fights, dress-ups, American Indian head-dresses and hula dancing. There is also quite a lot of moody introspection for what is essentially an unabashed love song.