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Pop CultureSeptember 7, 2017

Someone finally made a cultural masterpiece about our national obsession

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When future-historians look back at life in New Zealand in the early part of this century, there’s one pop cultural artifact that, in three-and-a-half minutes summed up the aspirations of a changing nation: Gold Medal Famous’ masterpiece ‘We Bought A House’.

We’ve been waiting for it for years – a cultural work which encapsulates our true national obsession: home-ownership. Some thought it might be The Block, but that turned into a narcissistic infomercial. Others said Our First Home, but that was – this moment aside – way too boring. So it is with great pride that today, the Spinoff present the generation-defining, future-classic ‘We Bought A House’ by Wellington band Gold Medal Famous.

The Spinoff: You’ve bought a house? In this market? What are you, a robber-baron or something? Or one of those characters invented for a Stuff story?

Chris Wilson: No, I’m not a robber-baron. We bought a house in Dunedin where houses are still quite a bit cheaper than Auckland or Wellington. Also, I’ve had reasonably well-paying office jobs since I was 25 and we bought the house last year when I was 38. We’d been saving for about five years, I was left an inheritance and my parents lent me a bit of money. And we still had enough money left over to get Karl Jensen to direct this amazing video. I’ve been a lucky middle-class person.

So why write a song about it? Just to rub it in?

A lot of hip hop is about how much bling you’ve got so we’d thought we’d write about the ultimate kiwi status symbol: a house. It’s aspirational rap. The song lyrics are just the banal process of looking for and purchasing a house.

People can hang their own thoughts and feelings about home ownership on the song. It’s got a sparse arrangement so there’s plenty of space to do that.

As a former non-home owner – who I imagine felt annoyed at everyone talking about property all the damn time – how does it feel to be on the other-side, a member of the ownership class? Is it everything you imagined?

We’re landlords and tenants. We rent a flat in Wellington. I’ve actually part owned an apartment before so I had some idea of what I was getting into. It’s better than that cause we don’t have to be part of a body corporate. It’s also nice because our tenants pay the rent which is paying our mortgage so we own more of the house every two weeks.

Property is now our national fixation – we talk about it more than the All Blacks or Shortland Street – why has it taken so long it to be captured in song?

Most songwriters tend to write about the same thing all the time: love songs. Gold Medal Famous is not a normal band. We don’t write love songs, except one and it is not lame. We write a lot of social commentary songs. Two of our favourites are against New Zealand’s sports obsession and expensive domestic air travel.

Is the house you bought the one in the video?

No. It’s Vorn’s flat in Mount Pleasant, Wellington where we recorded the album Activity, a concept album about things, like buying property.

Are you all homeowners?

Tamsin and I are homeowners. Vorn is not a homeowner. He hates me and Tamsin and the song.

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