(Humblebrag / AWAL)

Contact Brid Walpole about Merk

New Zealand-based artist and producer Merk (moniker for Mark Perkins) releases a new single, “H.N.Y.B.,” and an accompanying video. The title is the acronym for the songs’ ear-worm chorus Happy New Year Baby. Reminiscent of artists like Phoenix and Porches, its stark minimalism and hypnotic, woozy synths provide the counterpoint to the sweetness in the reflective lyrics and vocals.


This track is an exercise in minimalism for me. I was wanting to see how long you could go with doing very little while keeping it interesting,” says Merk. “That’s why a lot of the song is just a very basic drumbeat, bass, and vocals with no reverb or anything to hide behind. I was very inspired by Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Histoire de Melody Nelson’ when recording this track. His dry and minimal production makes him sound effortlessly cool, and it gives a feeling of suspense and rawness that keeps you hooked.”


The accompanying video, directed by Merk and Martin Salgadin, is an equally hypnotic DIY celebration with a surrealist twist. It encapsulates both the celestial beauty and terror of the quiet passing of time. “I think there’s a beautiful tension in being a DIY producer making pop music,” says Merk. “You are searching for these vast sounds, while being confined to a bedroom studio. That’s one reason (among others) for the sun and moon murals in the video. They remind me of making this song, dreaming of celestial heights while being stuck in my room. There’s also scenes where we are floating around the streets which remind me of making the song too. Ambling around suburbia, having a studio break while everyone else is at work.


Merk began his career as a touring member of New Zealand bands Tom Lark and Fazerdaze, before releasing his debut album Swordfish in 2017. Swordfish was recorded from a makeshift studio in a store basement at Roundhead Studios, where Perkins was learning the craft of recording and producing under the stewardship of New Zealand’s greatest musical export Neil Finn. Merk would stay late after work, writing songs and applying his newfound engineering skills to make a record that is full of indie-pop gems. Swordfish went on to win Best Debut Album at the Taite Music Prize (New Zealand’s equivalent of the Mercury or Polaris Prize), and led to tours with Cub Sport, Marlon Williams and Julia Jacklin in Australia and NZ.


Now with new music under his belt, Merk is undertaking his first global release via Humblebrag Records/AWAL, showcasing at SXSW in March and playing his first run of headline shows in NZ and Australia.