NZ On Screen’s Dunedin Collection offers up the sights and sounds of a city edged by ocean, and famed for its music. Dunedin is a bracing mixture of old and new: of Victorian buildings and waves of fresh-faced students, many of them carrying guitars. As Dave Cull reflects in his introduction, it is a city where distance is no barrier to creativity and innovation.
This documentary tells the story of the legendary Flying Nun music label up to its 21st birthday. The label became associated with the 'Dunedin Sound': a catch-all term for a sprawl of DIY, post-punk, warped, jangly guitar-pop. The Guardian: "[it's] as if being on the other side of the world meant the music was played upside down". Features interviews with founder Roger Shepherd and many key players, the spats and the glory. The label's influence on the US indie scene is noted, and Pavement's Stephen Malkmus covers The Verlaines' 'Death and the Maiden'.
The South Tonight was a Dunedin-filmed regional news show. In these excerpts, Martin Phillipps and The Chills return home from London, and find album Submarine Bells is number one; legendary local band Sneaky Feelings play a last gig; Velvet Underground muse Nico plays Orientation Week; a ball is filmed at Larnach Castle for TV series Hanlon; rhododendron nuts ramble at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens, and Jim Mora visits the Danseys Pass Hotel. Finally there’s a survey of dingy student digs circa 1985 (when rents went as low as $14 a week).
This 1982 Radio with Pictures report surveys the Dunedin music scene, and the bands who are starting to be grouped together under the label ‘the Dunedin Sound’. Critic Roy Colbert discusses the influence of punk pioneers The Enemy and Toy Love, and the benefits of being outside fashion. A roster of future Flying Nun notables are interviewed, including David Kilgour, Shayne Carter, and Jeff Batts (The Stones). Martin Phillipps is psychedelic, and Chris Knox dissects the new bands’ guitar-playing style (without using the word "jangly"!). And then there’s Mother Goose.
Richard Driver files this 1988 Radio with Pictures report from a Waitemata Stadium concert cobbled together after the failure of music festival Neon Picnic. He interviews The Chills, Graham Brazier and Live Aid legend Bob Geldof. Geldof, along with Tim Shadbolt and Phil Warren, had come to the aid of music fans by organising the consolation gig at the last minute. Geldof rates Neon Picnic’s demise as an international embarrassment. But he praises the local music community for rallying behind the replacement gig, and admits he enjoyed the rush of helping organise it.
In 2012 TV presenter Helena McAlpine enlisted a chorus of NZ music’s finest voices to cover Chris Knox’s classic love song, as part of a campaign to raise breast cancer awareness. They included Alisa Xayalith, Brooke Fraser, Julia Deans, Martin Phillipps, The Topp Twins, Don McGlashan, Warren Maxwell, Hinewehi Mohi, Princess Chelsea, Jon Toogood and Hollie Smith. The track was arranged and produced by Sean Donnelly (SJD). McAlpine was diagnosed with the disease in 2008, and died on 23 September 2015.
3:45 LIVE! was an afternoon links programme for kids that screened on TV2. Before he became world-famous as host of Amazing Race, Phil Keoghan was a presenter on the show in tandem with Hine Elder. In excerpts here, the pair interview Martin Phillipps of The Chills; expat singer Mark Williams; and the cast of Badjelly and the Witch. International stars on the couch include Dave Stewart (of the Eurythmics), and rap singer Redhead Kingpin, who is off-the-wall. Phil and Hine also take off Judy Bailey and Richard Long before interviewing the newsreaders themselves.
This was the iconic Dunedin group's first music video. 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 career songs.
The Chills are arguably the band most indelibly associated with 'The Dunedin Sound' — and one of label Flying Nun's enduring figureheads. With mainstay Martin Phillipps at the helm, the band has seen more than 20 line-up changes while exploring their pared-back guitar-pop sound. Their "series of brilliant singles" (The Guardian) includes the moody 'Pink Frost', 'I Love My Leather Jacket' and 'Heavenly Pop Hit'. In 1987 The Chills played to 60,000 at the Glastonbury Festival; in the early 90s they released two albums through Warner Brothers imprint Slash Records. Silver Bullets, their fifth studio album, dropped in 2015.
David Kilgour, looking particularly dapper in a blue and white polka dot shirt, plays the high living rock star in this Stuart Page directed video. The backstage party and driving sequences were filmed in Dunedin and feature David's brother (and fellow Clean member) Hamish and local identities including Martin Phillipps (from The Chills) as the chauffeur. The live performance was shot at the Powerstation in Auckland and the paparazzi sequence takes place at Auckland International Airport. Special mention should be made of the "brick" mobile phone.