Artist

The Verlaines

Flying Nun band The Verlaines were formed by singer/guitarist Graeme Downes in 1981. In the band’s early years Downes was studying classical music at Otago University, and his songwriting features shifting tempos, eclectic instruments, and mentions of Nietzsche and French poet Paul Verlaine. These days Downes has a PhD and lectures at Otago. As with many Flying Nun bands of the era, The Verlaines won international recognition for their work, including Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus covering their classic 1983 single ‘Death and the Maiden’. In 2012 the band released their tenth album Untimely Meditations

Collection

The Flying Nun Collection

Curated by Roger Shepherd

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."

Doomsday

The Verlaines, Music Video, 1986

‘Doomsday’ was initially released as a 12 inch 45. The video is shot in a room similar to the one featured in their classic Death and the Maiden (but the bay window isn’t quite as grand, and there are no rabbits). A blue wash runs through the first three quarters of the clip, as Graeme Downes sings off to one side — his lyrics a bleak portrayal of a doomed relationship that could end at any time. (But when?) The instrumental final minute is in full colour, with Downes back in the midst of the band. The homespuns have come off and there are smiles all round.  

Pyromaniac

The Verlaines, Music Video, 1984

This song from Flying Nun stalwarts The Verlaines comes from their 10 O'Clock in the Afternoon EP — the follow-up to their signature single 'Death and the Maiden'. The video was made at TVNZ's Avalon Studios where more than a few clips were marred by inappropriate treatments in the early-80s — but The Verlaines were spared unnecessary trickery, props or actors. With a simple set and an all but imperceptible transition from black and white to colour as the only effect, the focus is on the burning, claustrophobic intensity of song and performance. 

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. 

It Was Raining

The Verlaines, Music Video, 1985

The Verlaines sing and play while sitting on a picnic rug under a tree, with assorted friends and family (and a dog) as fellow picnickers. Meanwhile mystic mask-wearing woodland creatures lurk behind the idyll. Cheap but certainly not without charms (there's even a feathery one hanging off the guitar). Check out a young Shayne Carter lounging under the tree fuschia.

50 Years of New Zealand Television: 3 - Let Us Entertain You

Television, 2010 (Full Length Episode)

This edition of Prime TV’s history of New Zealand television looks at 50 years of entertainment. The smorgasbord of music, comedy and variety shows ranges from 60s pop stars to Popstars, from the anarchy of Blerta to the anarchy of Telethon, from Radio with Pictures to Dancing with the Stars. Music television moves from C’mon and country, to punk and hip hop videos. Comedy follows the formative Fred Dagg and Billy T, through to Eating Media Lunch and 7 Days. A roll call of New Zealand entertainers muse on seeing Kiwis laugh, sing and shimmy on the small screen.

Heavenly Pop Hits - The Flying Nun Story

Television, 2002 (Full Length)

This documentary tells the story of the legendary Flying Nun music label up to its 21st birthday. The label became associated with the 'Dunedin Sound': a catch-all term for a sprawl of DIY, post-punk, warped, jangly guitar-pop. The Guardian: "[it's] as if being on the other side of the world meant the music was played upside down". Features interviews with founder Roger Shepherd and many key players, the spats and the glory. The label's influence on the US indie scene is noted, and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus covers The Verlaines' 'Death and the Maiden'. 

Made in Dunedin

Television, 2007 (Full Length)

A documentary about the fashion industry in Dunedin - a city that seems to turn out more than its fair share of fashion designers. Made for TVNZ’s Artsville strand, the doco features designers Margi Robertson (NOM*d), Tanya Carlson (Carlson), Veronica Keucke (Keucke) and Juliet Fay (Aduki). Prominent fashion journalist (turned author) Stacy Gregg talks about how Dunedin is the source of the "dark intellectualism of New Zealand fashion". The southern styles are set to a soundtrack of Flying Nun bands, and there are excerpts from some classic Nun clips.

Radio with Pictures - Dunedin 1982

Television, 1982 (Excerpts)

This 1982 Radio with Pictures report surveys the Dunedin music scene, and the bands who are starting to be grouped together under the label ‘the Dunedin Sound’. Critic Roy Colbert discusses the influence of punk pioneers The Enemy and Toy Love, and the benefits of being outside fashion. A roster of future Flying Nun notables are interviewed, including David Kilgour, Shayne Carter, and Jeff Batts (The Stones). Martin Phillipps is psychedelic, and Chris Knox dissects the new bands’ guitar-playing style (without using the word "jangly"!). And then there’s Mother Goose.