Fronted by songwriting brothers Kody and Ruban Nielson, the eclectic Mint Chicks emerged from Auckland’s live music scene in 2005 with debut album F**k The Golden Youth, having made a name for themselves and polarised critical opinion with chaotic, often volatile, shows. They found approval in 2007 when their follow-up, Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No!, won five NZ Music awards, including Best Album and Best Group. Recordings at The Dandy Warhol’s famed studio The Odditorium, yielded 2009 album Screens. A Ray Columbus cover and EP Bad Buzz followed in 2010. The band split to pursue solo projects that year.
Another treasure from director Sam Peacocke — who also directed Vodafone Award-winning Mint Chicks video Crazy? Yes! Dumb? No! — this promo channels the kind of obtuse storyline that Mint Chicks songs were known for. It opens on a tiny lego band ordering a comatose man in a rabbit hat to help them. Sulky teenagers, feuding couples and a high dive into a tin bathtub complete the outlandishly art-directed picture, before arriving at the clip's high-water mark — the bunny boils over.
This award-winner from the 2007 NZ Music Awards sees the Mint Chicks performing after dark, somewhere on the edge of suburbia, while a wolf (actually a siberian husky) sparks a journey through the streets — past people wrestling with poultry, and each other. Director Sam Peacocke (Manurewa, Shihad - Beautiful Machine) displays the same enigmatic approach taken with Mint Chicks clip Walking Off a Cliff Again. The band also took out NZ Music Awards for Best Group and Album. Real Groove magazine later rated this the best New Zealand single of the decade.
Do robots dream of mechanical owls? A young woman in distress wakes up to find she has a 'robot problem' in her apartment. As the wee ‘bots (resembling animated cuisenaire rods) cause mayhem, she calls for help on her rat-phone. Roused from the Winter Gardens, an exterminator and his giant caged owl come to the rescue. The promo was one of several shot for The Mint Chicks by Crystal Bear-winning short film director Sam Peacocke (Manurewa). To create the miniature robots, life-size puppets were shot in front of a green screen, then composited into the action.
The Ray Columbus and The Invaders' 60s classic gets a modern make-over by the Mint Chicks, to mark the Invaders' induction into the NZ Music Hall of Fame. The clip was shot on the night of the Music Awards where Columbus and co were honoured. Shot in black and white, the video embraces the 60s theme, with a stage performance involving mini-skirted go-go dancers and swirly psychedelic back-projections. Backstage footage of the surviving members of The Invaders also features, as do shots from the original She's a Mod promo clip.
Following the demise of The Mint Chicks in 2010, lead singer Kody Nielson worked with Bic Runga, played in his brother Ruban's new band Unknown Mortal Orchestra and started his own solo project. Utilising influences ranging from jazz, lounge and Pacifica to 60s pop and psychedelica, he wrote and performed most of the material himself (with occasional contributions from Runga and his father Chris). He christened the project Opossom; album Electric Hawaii won Best Alternative Album at the 2012 NZ Music Awards.
For fourth album Belle (2011), Bic Runga found new collaborators, including brothers Kody and Ruban Nielson (The Mint Chicks), with Kody becoming Belle's producer and Runga’s partner. ‘Tiny Little Piece of My Heart’ was the first result, and opening track; The Herald's Lydia Jenkin called the girl group style number "an irresistible piece of pop, deceptively effortless in its spacious groove and sweet keyboard riffs". The black and white video for the jaunty song about moving on, sees Runga lolling about on a bed with a vintage camera. It was directed by fashion photographer Oliver Rose.
Ruban Nielson’s Portland-based Unknown Mortal Orchestra explores lo-fi, funk psychedelia on this bittersweet number from their second album. The video, shot by an American cast and crew at counter-culture hangout Venice Beach in Los Angeles, follows Chris Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick-Ass) as he attempts to extricate a loved one from the clutches of a panhandling, Manson Family style cult. Former Mint Chick Nielson (in black jersey and beanie) and his fellow UMO members have cameos but can’t compete with the family members dancing in the California sun.
A man lies under a tree, a guitar chimes, the music grows in intensity, the song becomes an impassioned declaration of love ... and people start falling from trees. Was he a daydreamer or did he fall too? Frantic animation follows, more bodies fall - with respite only from a dancer in a Warholesque sequence. HowYe was made by the Special Problems team of Campbell Hooper and Joel Kefali (makers of notable videos for Naked and Famous, Mint Chicks and Dimmer) and shot in Cornwall Park and Pt Erin Park in Auckland. The dancer is Benny Ord (formerly of the Royal NZ Ballet).
This 2014 single comes from Nobody / Everybody, the sophomore album by Kiwi guitar pop outfit Clap Clap Riot. Coming a couple of years after ballet psychodrama Black Swan (2010), the video concentrates on a ballet dancer who eventually pirouettes into an alternative reality; from the dance floor to submarine world and a pine forest, where a prone Stephen Heard is doing the singing. The promo was created by director Karlie Fisher and cinematographer Jeremy Toth. Kody Nielson (Mint Chicks, Opossum) produced the song.