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.
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.
A teenage Anika Moa attracted the attention of Atlantic Records on the strength of this song, becoming the first Kiwi to sign to a major international label before having released an album at home. The music video places the camera above Moa as she sings about objectification in a house that, even by Kiwi standards, needs a heating upgrade. At the 2002 NZ Music Awards ‘Youthful’ won Moa Songwriter of the Year. In a 2005 Homegrown episode, Moa recalled feeling shy making her first music video. “Everyone thought I looked like Beth Heke."
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.
Justin Pemberton's work for the screen can be split roughly into two. His eclectic and award-winning run of documentaries includes motor-racing story Love, Speed and Loss and acclaimed Olympic saga The Golden Hour. He has also worked on many music projects, from music videos to documentaries about Anika Moa and the NZ Symphony Orchestra.
Seasoned stand-up comedian Rhys Darby played an inept band manager on cult hit Flight of the Conchords. It proved a springboard to wider fame. After feature acting roles on both sides of the Atlantic, Darby took the lead role in Kiwi romantic comedy Love Birds. 2014 saw the debut of comedy show Short Poppies, with Darby playing a different person in each episode. He continues to act and perform live.