‘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.
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.
This was the first music video for iconic Dunedin group The Chills. Directed by Peter Janes, the promo for the song roams around an aptly chilly looking attic while the band performs. As soap bubbles float towards the rafters, there’s fog on the breath of singer Martin Phillipps, who lulls the listener to swim into space with him. “Come along baby we'll live in our kaleidoscope world”. The early Chills song was from Flying Nun’s seminal Dunedin Double EP. It was later featured as the opening (and title) track on The Chills’ debut LP, a 1986 compilation of early songs for the band.
From the time-honoured music video making tradition of "throw a party, add a horse costume and film the results" comes a frenetic clip directed by Andrew Moore. Love's Ugly Children were at their belligerent best on this song from their second album. Drummer Jason Young was the waylaid missionary; and guitarist Simon McLaren got to talk to a horse on the phone and display hitherto-unseen break-dancing skills. The carpet of their flat came off second best in an encounter with some red body paint. Extra marks for the cheese and pineapple hedgehog.
The opening track from the second Jean-Paul Sartre Experience album indicates a significant change in tone for the band — more layered and expansive, and less angular than some of their earlier recordings. The video was directed and edited by John Chrisstoffels, who shot the stained glass windows and tile mosaics in Christchurch's Anglican Cathedral. JPSE vocalist and bass player Dave Yetton created the pulsing and spiraling video feedback effects. The band appears only fleetingly — in individual close-ups, filmed off a television screen by Chrisstoffels.
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.
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.
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.
Bressa Creeting Cake's jaunty calypso romp, described by the band as "a very happy holiday song full of gaiety, summer, and love for one's fellows", gets a suitably madcap treatment in this video directed by Michael Keating and band member Edmund McWilliams (aka Ed Cake). Actor and comedian Jonathan Brugh (What We Do in the Shadows) gets to mug for the camera while the band lurks in the background in their "sinister suits". Auckland's Little Shoal Bay, near the Harbour Bridge, is the opening location, and elsewhere, a guitar is used as a percussion instrument.
Low-tech legend Chris Knox is an accomplished musician, cartoonist, critic, filmmaker, and jandal wearer. As this collection demonstrates, his genius takes flight in the DIY aesthetic of his music videos. As Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd says in his backgrounder, “this is a unique and important collection of work perfectly illustrating what is possible with the barest of resources and a free-wheeling imagination”. Russell Brown adds his view here. Alongside music videos, the collection also includes interviews with Knox and profiles of bands Toy Love and Tall Dwarfs.