The Phoenix Foundation rose from the ashes of Wellington's late-90s high school music circuit to become one of the country's most acclaimed bands. Like MacGyver (the TV show the band name references) the six-piece have brought an eclectic DIY approach to six albums of accomplished alt-pop, plus some quirky soundtracks (Boy). The Herald rated Happy Ending "one of the best examples of pop music to come out of New Zealand"; Following 2013 double album Fandango, the band's sixth long player was 2015's Give Up Your Dreams.
The video for this Phoenix Foundation single features Bret McKenzie excavating a deep hole, in a landscape that evokes the work of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (although Loren Taylor's video was actually shot in a clearing close to Wellington's wind turbine). The band turns up to watch, and the man finds eye-opening liberation from his toil. Vocalist Samuel Flynn Scott credited inspiration for the song to musician Lawrence Arabia’s recipe for satisfaction: ditching dreams of success, in order to enjoy making music. The result was a finalist for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll.
In this promo for the title track from the Phoenix Foundation's 2010 album a boy practises holding his breath, to better himself for meeting a sea nymph. It's a suitably giddy concept for a song that builds from its simple two-note intro onwards to a surging crescendo. "I'm on the sea floor / I am the mammal you adore / I'm on the sea floor, closer to the planet's core". A submarine South Coast swim and a glide through the pine trees of Wellington's Town Belt later, and our hero is united with his maiden. Directed by Nathan Hickey aka drummer for Beastwars.
Taika Waititi's 80s extravaganza wouldn't have been complete without the man himself arriving on set in a DeLorean — the time-travelling car from Back to the Future. The clip for The Phoenix Foundation is another homage-packed example of lo-fi genius from the Oscar nominated director. Note how Eastern European-derived keyboardist Luke Buda is playing a 'Poland' synthesizer. Said Waititi: "I spotted the DeLorean parked near our flat in Mt Cook, and left a note under the wiper saying 'what year are you from?' Turns it was one of two owned by a local doctor."
From The Phoenix Foundation’s second album Pegasus, ‘Hitchcock’ is an eerie “electro noir” instrumental tribute to the great film director. Reuben Sutherland’s remarkable clip (which he shot, directed, animated and edited) features a choreographed army of Russian Lada cars — created out of images shot with a stills camera and layered 90 times. What follows is a surreal, conservation-themed revisiting of the Cold War as the electric powered Ladas of the ‘Petrol Crimes Bureau’ are pitted against a gas guzzling 4x4 (bedecked with the Stars and Stripes).