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.
"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.
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.
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.
Crooner Marlon Williams has called 'Vampire Again' "my own demented tale of New Age self-affirmation". The song was born after he discovered he was the only person to dress up as a vampire for a screening of 1922 horror classic Nosferatu. Williams directs the music video; his portrayal of dance fiend and comical bloodsucker reflects his belief that good material can be found in the tension between serious and foolish. The video was shot and cut by veteran music photographer Steve Gullick (Nirvana). It won Best Music Video at the 2018 Vodafone NZ Music Awards.
This soulful ballad highlights Chong-Nee on the mic, backed by horns and strings. The song is taken from his debut album Just Getting By On Love (2006). Inspired by classic singers like Al Green, Chong-Nee set out to record a number of songs live, including this one. Befitting the song's old school stylings, director Martha Jeffries uses an extremely narrow colour palette. Jeffries also helmed the music videos for Chong-Nee singles 'Black Widow' and 'Scenarios'.
This collaboration between dancer Douglas Wright and director Gregor Nicholas was one of a series of music and movement-based shorts that established Nicholas’ reputation. A dramatised film noir sequence leads to a cross-dressing dance duel between Wright and Debbie McCulloch, shifting between an Orwellian cityscape and retro nightclub. Wright choreographs the bodies, and Nicholas the bold and sensual visual rhythms (shot by Stuart Dryburgh). Nicholas went on to direct high profile commercials and movie Broken English. Wright passed away in 2018.
Train enthusiast David Sims captured the dying days of steam trains in this 1968 National Film Unit short. It features arresting images of a Kb class locomotive billowing steam as it tackles the Southern Alps, en route from Canterbury to the West Coast. Kb Country was released in Kiwi cinemas in January 1968, just months before the steam locomotives working the Midland Line were replaced by diesel-electrics. Sims earned his directing stripes with the film. As he writes in this background piece, making it involved a mixture of snow, joy and at least two moments of complete terror.
A heartwarming tribute to the spirit of togetherness, this Dave Dobbyn classic celebrates Aotearoa's many colours. Forklift drivers, shop owners, children and (then) asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui lend weight to the welcome, as does the declaration at the end: "We come from everywhere. Speak peace and welcome home." Taken from 2005 album Available Light, Dobbyn's song became an unofficial anthem to many expats. Dobbyn went on to sing it at the 2006 launch of a NZ memorial in London, at concerts after the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks — and in te reo version 'Nau Mai Rā'.