The Flying Nun Records live music video series What Was That Thing? has just published the 50th episode. (it's by Grains - you can watch it HERE) This also happens to coincide with the series’ first anniversary.
What Was That Thing? primarily showcases new or emerging local Aotearoa New Zealand music artists and bands. They perform live in the Flying Nun Records store, in Te Whanganui a Tara Wellington. Our goal is to edit up and mix each episode quickly, keeping the performances fresh, quality, but natural.
Obviously, Flying Nun are not the first to undertake a ‘live’ on location project like this. Tiny Desk, KEXP, local Student Radio and others are well known and generally excellent.
But for Flying Nun, the What Was That Thing? Series came about for our own reasons.
First, here at the label we’re always trying to walk that fine balance between paying due respect to the heritage and catalog, while also moving forward with new music. It’s a tricky line to walk. Over the years a lot of people have made a lot of incredible and influential music. But the fact is, there is also a vast quantity of excellent new music. More and more by the day. A lot of it is interesting, experimental and pushing various boundaries. Sadly, a lot of it also goes unheard.
In this increasingly overcrowded musical world, as a ‘record label’, we can’t possibly ‘release’ all the music we like. Nor can all the others. Not in the traditional way anyway; putting out albums, singles and so on. It’s just not viable. The economic reality is, it is easier to convince people to buy stuff they already know. But it’s harder to get them to discover something new.
I’m not saying there’s something wrong with old music. It’s awesome. I play old records all the time. But it also feels right to also do our bit to support new and emerging music. We still want to be a part of helping people unearth fresh sounds. If we can help a fan join the dots between an established Flying Nun band and a new young artist, then that’s a good thing. But it requires a more creative approach. We have to break some of the traditional confines of what a record label is expected to do.
So, these are some of the reasons we started What Was That Thing? Hopefully we can continue with the project for many more episodes.
Below are a selection of seven highlights among the What Was That Thing? Series. The truth is, over time we’ve gotten better at making them. So, for that reason, I’ve tended toward including the more recent editions. This list is not my selection of “the best”. They are just some diverse choices to get you interested.
You can watch more of the videos over on the Flying Nun Youtube channel. If you want to be in the know about future episodes, then please subscribe. Hit the ‘bell’ icon to be notified when they are uploaded (usually on a Thursday/Friday). You can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter, where we also post the new episodes.
Finally, a huge thanks to Lochie Noble, who does most of the filming and editing. Without his hard work we couldn’t make them. Likewise, all the contributions of the rest of the Flying Nun team.
This list goes from most recent to the oldest.
DARTZ - PRAY FOR PREY
Prey For Prey is one of my favourite songs among the DARTZ set. They’re one of the best new live bands in Aotearoa at the moment. DARTZ walk the fine line between punk, post-punk and pub rock. They might prefer Lion Brown, but they’re definitely not dummies.
LUDUS - NEXT THOUGHTS
Last year Ludus’ bandcamp released album Two Of The Same was among my favourites. Live, it sounds just as good. Performed here on a Synthstrom Deluge. Listen to the album HERE.
RECITALS - ARROW
Somehow this episode was a long time in the making, or in the organising. We were a little apprehensive recording such a big band in such a small space. With some band members based in Auckland, there was talk of them performing via zoom. Luckily, that never happened, as surely a would have been a technological disaster As it turned out, it was an easy and enjoyable process. The song is big, sprawling and ambitious, as well as fun! Recitals have one single out now, and, we hear, are more to come.
VERA ELLEN - TELEGRAM 2
What more can be said about Vera Ellen. Such great songs. The band look like a gang of trouble makers, but I'm sure that's just an illusion. Due to Covid lockdowns, Vera hasn’t had the chance to play out live much yet, but I hope that is about to change. I recommend that when it does, you get out and see the show.
KANE STRANG - NOT THAT BAD
The last few years have been a bit of a blur in terms of lockdowns and when we were actually able to go out to shows. However, I do recall one of the highlights was Kane Strang like at Meow. What a band! Kind of an indie rock all star lineup with Gussie from Mermaidens and Peter from Wax Chattels. It speaks to the high respect held for Kane Strang - he is hard to beat when it comes to writing a great song. Check his last album HERE
MYSTERY WAITRESS - SURFER
Mystery Waitress were the first full band we recorded and the first video we published. Radio Active were making a series of videos for NZ Music Month 2021 and they asked if they could film one in the store. We agreed on the basis that we could also make our own video at the same time. Anyway, Tessa from the band has a beautiful voice and there is a very an appealingly earnest melancholia to their sound. You can listen to their EP HERE.