Kiwi musician Merk talks new single, coronavirus cancelling American show

Auckland bedroom-pop musician Merk had been gearing up for what was supposed to be a big American show.

While the coronavirus outbreak has scuppered those plans, the resourceful muso's remaining positive.

"I just put out a song so there's still a lot to celebrate!" he told Newshub.

It's been nearly three and a half years since Mark Perkins released his debut album Swordfish to acclaim and awards. Now he's teasing album number two with new single HNYB.

It stands for "Happy New Year Baby," but don't be fooled by the cheery title.

Merk says New Year's is sometimes more melancholy than people think, a deceptive letdown because of high expectations.

"But also it's kind of like a reflective period of the year, where people are thinking about the year that's been, and the year that's coming. So in a wider sense, I think the song is about the passing of time and how cycles just continue with or without us realising," he says.

HNYB's electronic, minimal music is a change in style from his earlier work.

"I kind of made a rule with my new stuff that there would be no strummy guitars or anything, I was kinda trying to lean a little bit further away from what I've done previously," he explains.

Some people book out massive studios to record music. Merk makes his in a tiny Auckland bedroom.

The perfect setting for some lofty musical exploration.

"I was everywhere I could trying to play on some sort of tension, whether it be big versus small, or loud versus quiet," he explains.

Merk plays every instrument on the record himself, meaning live he has to call in a few friends.

But it's something he's done for their projects, having previously played as a backing musician for Tom Lark and Fazerdaze. It's a musical community on and off-stage.

"A bunch of musician friends and I, we have social netball team that we get together every Friday," he says.

Wednesday's gig at Auckland's Whammy Bar was supposed to be a fundraiser to help get the 26-year-old to the iconic Texas creative industry showcase SXSW, which was cancelled last week due to coronavirus.

"It's OK. These things sort of happen, and doors open and doors close, that's kind of the way things are and there's nothing we can really do about it," he says.

SXSW is one of the music industry's leading showcases, a prestigious opportunity for emerging musicians like Merk to make their mark on the international stage.

"I feel at peace with it, because what else can you do basically?"

But the show must go on: the Whammy Bar gig is now a single-release party for HNYB. He hopes the audience find cause to celebrate too.

"Forget about all that worry for a little bit, that's what music is about I would say, and live shows. It's a cool place to get together and hang and enjoy some music," he says.

Merk may also play some more new songs - a sneak preview of the album due out later this year.