Auckland Museum's Volume exhibition told the story of Kiwi pop music. It's time to turn the speakers up to 11, for NZ On Screen's biggest collection yet. Turning Up the Volume showcases NZ music and musicians. Drill down into playlists of favourite artists and topics (look for the orange labels). Plus NZOS Content Director Kathryn Quirk on NZ music on screen.
In 1992 songwriter and guitarist Andrew Brough left Straitjacket Fits, determined to perform his own brand of "f***ing uplifting pop music". Three years later he formed Bike with drummer Karl Buckley and bassist Tristan Mason. Debut single 'Save My Life' was a finalist in the APRA Silver Scrolls. Brough was a fan of sunny, West Coast guitar jangle and 'Save My Life' has a bob each way: guitars chime, while a morbid lyric ('Don't you try and save my life /cos' I'm already dead') floats overhead. Director Mark Tierney chooses a dreamy palette which combines orange with monochrome.
In 1995 Flying Nun released compilation CD Abbasalutely, made up of ABBA covers from their stable of artists. Headless Chickens contributed with this decidedly heavy cover of 'Super Trouper', ABBA’s ninth and final UK chart topper. The monochrome music video for the remake takes place at the RNZAF Base at Whenuapai, with the Chickens adopting many precarious positions on top of aircraft. It was directed by Jonathan Ogilvie, who helmed numerous Flying Nun music videos. The song's title was inspired by a popular concert spotlight.
In the 1990s Maree Sheehan was one of a small number of Māori women who used Māori instrumentation to create their own special flavour of dance music, hip hop and R'n'B. The video for this highly percussive R’n’B track from 1995 features performances by kapa haka group Te Ao Hurihanga. The stylish monochrome clip was partially shot on Auckland's One Tree Hill, before it lost its famous tree. Josh Frizzell, who directed this, had recently helmed one of the most played Kiwi music videos of 1994 — System Virtue, for Māori singer Emma Paki.
"My name is Mr Larry Woods and they call me Mr Sunshine." This 2016 Loading Doc offers a mini portrait of the colourful shoeshine man famous for spreading goodwill and cheer on Auckland’s streets. The documentary charts Wood’s journey from chauffeur-driven millionaire making headlines for his lush lifestyle, to street-working ambassador pushing the creed of “just being nice”. Directed by Eldon Booth in stylish monochrome, the documentary was shared by Atlantic and Aeon magazines and website Short of the Week, and screened at England's Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Don McGlashan has won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll award twice. In 2006 Miracle Sun gained him another nomination. McGlashan's lyrics evoke a mythical summer and directly reference Opo, the 'friendly' dolphin whose visits to Opononi in the mid 1950s became the stuff of Kiwi legend. The song's sweeping chorus is bittersweet, and a lap steel guitar adds a slightly mournful tone. The black and white video mixes National Film Unit footage of Opo charming holidaymakers, with shots of McGlashan and his band heading to the Hokianga and playing a gig for locals.
In this short documentary, director Rose Archer joins academic and activist Jane Kelsey to argue against Aotearoa signing the original Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). The 2016 Loading Doc uses animation to illustrate how things can turn nasty when commercial interests are allowed to sue governments. The film looks at El Salvador, which was sued for US$300 million by mining company OceanaGold, after laws were passed to halt mining (a World Bank tribunal later argued OceanaGold should be paying). Archer hopes viewers will be outraged and demand change.
In 2006 photographer Greg Semu was offered the first residency at indigenous museum Quai Branly in Paris. Just over a decade earlier his debut exhibition was on at Auckland Art Gallery — and he was making an award-nominated music video for the Sisters Underground, with veteran video director Kerry Brown. Set around Mangere Bridge, their clip exudes a palpable warmth, even if the lyrical references to MAC-10s and a hot and cruel June morning are nods to MC Hassanah’s Nigerian origins, rather than the South Auckland suburb. The song got to number six on the Kiwi charts.
Scribe's first single ‘Stand Up’ conquered the charts, paired as a double A-side with soon to be signature tune ‘Not Many’. But where ‘Not Many’ is a statement of personal intent, ‘Stand Up’ flies the flag for Kiwi hip hop: the video features many of the fellow musicians namechecked in the song. Shot in a basement below Auckland's Real Groovy Records in black and white (except for the ‘Not Many’ sections), Chris Graham's NZ Music Award-winning video offers an energetic, confrontational performance from Scribe, who took another five NZ Music Awards in the same year.
Lovers move towards each other through space and time in this episode of te reo series Aroha. Tapu (Cliff Curtis) plays a doctor who is unnerved by the strange behaviour of elderly patient Kahu. Kahu's death affects his niece Irikura (Ngarimu Daniels) deeply, and at the tangi secrets are revealed. Tapu and Irikura are haunted by visions of a shared past; Kahu's ghost has plans for them. This episode played in black and white. Celebrated Māori actor and mentor Don Selwyn plays Kahu. Director Guy Moana created tā moko and carvings for classic 1994 film Once Were Warriors.