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.
Recorded after their new label Mushroom Records Australia demanded ballads, 'Last Night In The City' is a moment of a departure from the hard rock that Knightshade were known for. But the song proved to be their biggest hit, clawing its way to number nine on the New Zealand singles chart in December 1989. The video has the band playing in a moodily-lit recording studio and features a double neck guitar à la Jimmy Page, a mystery woman, and lead singer Wayne Elliott lamenting lost love. The song was produced by American recording veteran Jim Faraci (Ratt, Poison).
This episode of C4's music series Homegrown Profiles features singer/songwriter Anika Moa, who was signed to international label Atlantic Records and recording her debut album Thinking Room in New York when she was barely out of her teens. Moa talks about growing up in a musical household in Christchurch; being discovered through the annual Rockquest competition; her American experience and the decision that it wasn't a good fit for her; and her return to New Zealand and the happier experience of making her second album Stolen Hill.
This four-part TVNZ series from 1986 surveyed the history of soul music, with a roll call of talented Kiwi performers belting out the genre's classics. In this first episode — presented by Dalvanius with Stevie Wonder braids — the focus is on the influential 60s soul music of New York label Atlantic Records. Singers include Bunny Walters, Debbie Harwood, The Yandall Sisters, Peter Morgan and more. Ardijah chime in with their contemporary soul hit ‘Your Love is Blind’. The series writer was Murray Cammick, founder of music magazine Rip It Up.
The making of this Anika Moa video arguably puts the singer's heady early rise in a nutshell. American label Atlantic Records flew an executive down to New Zealand to monitor proceedings, and ensure that the singer looked as slim on screen as possible. Moa and director Justin Pemberton came up with the idea of Moa lusting after every male she passes. The taxi is driven by actor Antony Starr (before Outrageous Fortune). As for Moa, she soon returned home from the US. A local top five hit, the song ended up on the soundtrack of Julia Roberts romance America’s Sweethearts.
Originally from Christchurch, Bailterspace began life in 1986, from the ashes of Gordons. Following several releases with Flying Nun — including 1990's critically-acclaimed Thermos — their atmospheric guitar-driven, Richter scale-registering sound gained the attention of industry heavyweights in New York, and they were signed to iconic independent label Matador Records. The band was also namechecked as an influence by New York rockers Interpol. Bailterspace took an extended hiatus in 2004, but have returned sporadically to release two further albums, and make occasional live appearances.
Lead Brunettes Jonathan Bree and Heather Mansfield became the poster boy and girl for Kiwi bubblegum pop with the 2002 release of debut album Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks. Signed to label Lil' Chief Records at home, growing international interest saw the band sign with American label Sub Pop (alongside Flight of the Conchords). The Brunettes put out four albums and three EPs, before calling it a day in 2009.
United by a love of synthesisers, Mark Turner and Johanna Freeman began making pop music together in 2007. Their sole album, Owl+Owl (released on label Lil' Chief Records), won enthusiastic reviews the following year. Turner began playing music at a young age, from wind instruments to guitar and drums. Little Pictures split in 2009. After forming band The Eversons, Turner won controversy in 2012 for a song seemingly aimed at Freeman. After relocating to London in 2015, The Eversons eventually morphed into indie popsters Superorganism, after recruiting young Japanese vocalist Orono Naguchi.
As smooth and laid-back as the song, this Josh Frizzell-directed music video takes inspiration from the geometric designs of album covers from 1960s label Blue Note Records. The track is from saxophonist Nathan Haines’ debut Shift Left (then New Zealand’s best-selling jazz album). Here Haines is a precocious 22, bespectacled, with his hair cropped unusually short. Sani Sagala (aka Dei Hamo) turns up to add a rap overlay to the song's ‘acid jazz’ influenced sax grooves. Frizzell also directed videos for Emma Paki (System Virtue) and Urban Disturbance (Static).
Abrasive, punky band from Christchurch who for most of their career were a trio comprising Simon McLaren (guitar, vocals), Angela Leslie (aka Floss) (bass, vocals) and Jason Young (drums). Formed in 1989, they recorded EPs for Christchurch labels Failsafe and Flat City before moving to Flying Nun in 1994, where they made two albums. Young was replaced in 1996 by Paul Reid, who would later front Rubicon (and also appear in Shortland Street). After their split in 1998, McLaren formed the Subliminals and then recorded an album as Sleepers Union.