The fall of the Iron Curtain was still several years away when Shona Laing wrote her first APRA Silver Scroll winner 'Soviet Snow'. The world had been "teasing at war like children" over decades of the arms race and Cold War brinksmanship and the threat of nuclear winter was very real. The video is a suitably chilly but dizzying montage that marries Russian iconography and Soviet imagery to the song's urgent synthesised beats. Laing later stripped 'Soviet Snow' of its synthpop trappings in an acoustic version on her 2007 album Pass the Whisper.
With its video filmed in a cramped Auckland flat, 'Pedestrian Support League' was the lead single off Street Chant’s long-awaited second album, Hauora. As the band play on, a psychedelic array of everyday kitchenware flies by in the background. The claustrophobic flat is appropriate — lead singer Emily Littler describes the lyrics as about “just your typical Kiwi shithole flat life filled with paranoia, depression and anxiety.” The album received critical praise upon its release, and the single was was one of five finalists for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Songwriting award.
In the 1980s country and western music was a big part of the Kiwi music landscape, and arguably its best-loved star was Patsy Riggir. 'Beautiful Lady', from 1983 album Are You Lonely, was a song she wrote herself (unusual in a genre then heavy on covers). It won Most Popular Song at the 1983 NZ Music Awards, where Riggir was named Composer of the Year, and was a finalist in the APRA Silver Scroll Awards. This performance is from a 1985 variety gala celebrating 25 years of television in New Zealand. The following year Riggir would front six-part TV series Patsy Riggir Country.
This dance pop anthem was a number one for the reality TV series-generated act TrueBliss — and the biggest selling single by a NZ artist in 1999. It was written (like most of their 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 — but also quite a lot of moody introspection for what is essentially an unabashed love song.
Don McGlashan’s anthemic plea for safe harbour — written for band The Mutton Birds — won him his first APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award, and began a life of its own. It was used in the soundtrack of a short film (Boy), a movie (Perfect Strangers) and was given all star treatment by Greenpeace. But TVNZ’s use of it on National Party conference footage was a step too far for McGlashan, who took very public offence. Director Fane Flaws places his video — a nominee for an NZ Film and TV Award — in the eye of a mermaid rather than a storm, but plenty of perils await.
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.
This soulful despatch from the end of a love affair won Rikki Morris the APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award for 1991. It was produced by his brother Ian (aka Tex Pistol) who contributed a suitably epic 80s drum sound and won himself Engineer of the Year at the NZ Music Awards. The family connection extended to the music video where Rikki’s then wife Debbie Harwood (from When the Cat’s Away) played the former partner in the Super 8 footage (which the pair shot themselves). A stormy surf beach offers an appropriately tempestuous supporting performance.
One of the gentler songs on Shona Laing's 1992 album New on Earth, this warm, Latin-tinged number is in polar opposition to the staunch, synth-laden stylings that won attention on her previous release South. Karyn Hay's purposefully minimal clip concentrates exclusively on Laing, highlighted by red and blue filters as she plays acoustic guitar. Elsewhere, the stylised symbols seen on her face form part of an interstellar background. Laing has called New on Earth "the best record I ever made". Mercy of Love won Laing her second Silver Scroll songwiting award in 1992.
California born, singer songwriter Reb Fountain arrived in NZ by boat with her family aged 11. After playing in bands in Dunedin and Christchurch, she headed overseas where she studied jazz singing in Seattle and lived in New York and London. Now based in Auckland, she released her first solo album Like Water in 2006 and her second, Holster in 2008 (which included 'January's Well' — a preliminary finalist in the 2008 APRA Silver Scrolls). In partnership with director Anton Wood, Fountain has produced a series of distinctive music videos.
Tami Neilson toured her native Canada while still a child, as part of family act The Neilsons. After moving to NZ she self-released her solo debut Red Dirt Angel in 2009. It won a Tui award for best country album, as did the two that followed. Purposefully “rough and ready” fourth release Dynamite! saw the addition of soul, rockabilly and gospel to Neilson's country roots. The result was a run of awards including the Taite Music Prize for year's Best Kiwi Album, and a Silver Scroll songwriting gong for track ‘Walk (Back to Your Arms)’.