Auckland band the Headless Chickens went against the grain of the so-called Dunedin Sound that dominated the roster of legendary record label Flying Nun, by making extensive use of beats and electronica. The band won the Rheineck Rock Award in 1987, and the prize money funded their innovative (for its use of sampling) debut album Stunt Clown. Singer Fiona McDonald joined the band in the early 90s, and it was during this time that they attracted their widest audience. Headless Chickens split up in 1998, but in 2008 performed reunion gigs in Australia and New Zealand.
This award-winning puppetry/comic book creation follows a put upon heroine enduring jibes from the cool crowd about her hairstyle. She resolves to rectify her situation using a new 'Hairagami Set'. The video was created by duo Trophy Wife (Ian and Rebecca Hart), who later revealed that the Hairzilla monster was a late addition, after US record label Sub Pop felt uncomfortable with "school shooting imagery". The clip won Best Music Video at the 2008 Vodafone NZ Music Awards. Check out the true to life puppets of band members Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield.
Tall Dwarfs have influenced alternative collectives across the globe, and share a DIY aesthetic and 1981 birth date with legendary record label Flying Nun. Dwarfs Chris Knox and Alex Bathgate first played together in The Enemy and Toy Love, before deciding to leave mainstream music behind. The underground lo-fi pioneers made do without a drummer, instead using household objects as percussion. 1981 EP Three Songs marked the first of more than a dozen releases by the band; their first album was Weeville in 1990.
In 2002 Mai FM was celebrating it’s tenth anniversary, and this piece from Marae documents just how far the radio station had come, and how they celebrated. In its 10 years Mai FM had become Auckland’s “number one radio station”, leading in many key demographics. The station celebrated the anniversary with a concert at Auckland’s St James Theatre, featuring hip hop stalwart DJ Sir-Vere, and Katchafire, who had just signed to the station’s record label and were yet to release their debut album. The piece is in te reo, but many of the interviews are in English.
Drummer Shelton Woolright and guitarist Marcus Powell from West Auckland metal band Blindspott feature in this episode from a series made for high school music students. They talk about their beginnings playing in sheds and paddocks in Taupaki and their decision to “get serious” which led to a major label record deal and radio play in Australia and South East Asia. The third Blindspott single ‘S.U.I.T. (So Us Is This)’ gets an acoustic run through as its construction is explained and there are some school friendly excerpts from the music video.
Ruby Frost (Jane de Jong) is an Auckland singer-songwriter who counts Kate Bush and Bjork among her inspirations. Her big break came when she won MTV’s 42Unheard talent contest in 2009. Part of the prize package was a recording contract with Universal Music; and Volition, her first album, was released in June 2012. The daughter of Mark and Chris de Jong who run Parachute, the Christian music record label and festival, she was also a music reporter on TV2’s Erin Simpson Show and is one of the judges in the first New Zealand series of The X Factor.
'Melusine' sees Jan Hellriegel swaying to a different beat, at a point of major change in her career. In European folklore, a melusine is half woman, and half serpent or fish. In the music video, Jan Hellriegel performs in a man's suit, her birthday suit and a cocktail dress. Her on-screen transformation reflects the singer's real-life realisation that being feminine could be a place of strength. The video was directed by artist Tracey Tawhiao. Hellriegel recorded the song in-between leaving her record label, and becoming a parent. A remixed version won fans on the Auckland dance scene.
This four-part 1986 series offered a lively musical survey of the history of soul. Each episode focussed on a United States city, and its influence on the evolution of the genre. Presented by Dalvanius, the show was built around performances of soul classics by Kiwi performers (Bunny Walters, Peter Morgan, The Yandall Sisters), filmed in a nightclub style setting at Auckland’s Shortland Street Studios. The series writer was Rip It Up editor and future record label owner Murray Cammick (Southside, Wildside).
South Pacific hip hop heavyweight King Kapisi (aka Bill Urale) won the 1999 APRA Silver Scroll award for Songwriter of the Year with 'Reverse Resistance' — the first Polynesian to do so. The Wellington-born PI rapper signed to Festival Mushroom Records in 2000 and released the critically acclaimed Savage Thoughts, followed by 2003's 2nd Round Testament and 2005's Dominant Species. The albums showcase Kapisi's politically conscious lyrics and distinctive beats. His collaborators have included Che Fu, The Mint Chicks, and his partner Teremoana Rapley. In 2006 Kapisi formed his own record label, Quabax Wax.
Poi E: The Story of Our Song tells the story behind one of New Zealand’s most iconic pop songs. Led by Dalvanius Prime, the Patea Māori Club single was released soon after the closure of the town’s freezing works. Conquering disinterest from record labels and radio, Poi E became New Zealand's highest selling single in 1984. Written and directed by Tearepa Kahi (Mt Zion), the "warm, funny, touching" documentary (NZ Herald) features interviews with those involved, and famous fans (eg Taika Waititi). Poi E won applause after premiering at the opening of the 2016 Auckland Film Festival.