Roy Irwin is a singular figure in New Zealand’s music scene, known for their emotive indie-pop stylings, poetic, shadowy lyrics, and guitar playing that evokes a sense of joy and energy.
Our favourite indie-pop sweetheart from Aotearoa drops their new track Clover today, a deeply felt, popping gem of pure delight.
Roy’s background in various bands has led to a sound that is equal parts anti-folk and pop, with clear influences from the likes of Lemonheads, and Dinosaur Jr. Roy’s music has a wry, reflective tone that is both melancholic and uplifting.
But what sets Roy apart is their prolific nature, as an artist, they are constantly releasing new music and playing live shows, a true embodiment of the DIY ethos.
Roy’s 2017 King of Pop delivered the ultimate in tight irresistible guitar lines and sublime jangle pop, which is guaranteed to get stuck in your head for days to come. Their self-titled album from 2020 spawned the hit Warm, which has been recently remixed to perfection by Punished Gregory while 2021’s The Comedian is a masterful, heart-wrenching exploration of pain and beauty.
In many ways, Roy is reminiscent of Jay Reatard, another artist who favoured dropping releases, demos, and outtakes in quantity alongside their official releases. But where Reatard often felt reckless, Roy’s work is meticulously crafted and deeply felt.
Ensconced in their Karangahape Road abode, where culture, music, and art collide, Roy, chats to us about their latest single, Clover, a stellar track made in memory of a beloved mother.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
ROY: Relaxing. I woke up and listened to some music and then I went to the art gallery and saw the Frida Kahlo exhibition. Ate too much food at Mr. Taco.
HAPPY: Tell us about your suburb, what do you love/not love about where you live?
ROY: I live on Karangahape Road. I don’t drive so I like the convenience. Everything is within short walking distance. It’s a lot different from what I remember as a kid. I’d personally describe the vibe mostly as tense. When gentrification happens there becomes a clear divide. The few venues struggle as far as I know with high rent prices. In saying that we have great places like The Wine Cellar in St Kevins Arcade where I love to play (thanks Rohan) and monthly events like “First Thursdays” that cater to live music and art. All of my neighbours are artists and musicians.
It’s hard for me to say what’s attractive about living in Auckland with absurd rent prices but we’re here for one reason or another and I guess that creates some community and solidarity. I’d also like to mention Merge Cafe which is a not-for-profit cafe that supports and help the homeless. Karangahape could use more venues and places like Merge and fewer landlords trying to make the city into the big outdoor Westfield it’s quickly turning into.
What’s not to love is the city being stripped of so many things that made it what it was.
HAPPY: Describe your average work day.
ROY: I wake up and eat. I set up somewhere comfortable and then I record as much as possible provided it feels right and things are fun and happening naturally. Then I pack up and forget about it and give my ears and brain a rest so the songs sound fresh the next day or whenever I can record next.
HAPPY: What about your ultimate day?
ROY: Probably going for a walk in Japan. Seeing my friends. Eating and drinking with them late at night.
HAPPY: What was the recording process behind your new single ‘clover’ and how did it differ from your last recording? Studio/where/tools used etc.
ROY: My recording process hasn’t changed much since I started doing it over 10 years ago. The space changes. Last time I recorded in a shed in the backyard. I’m recording in my bedroom again. My mic is a little nicer. It works. And I’ve always worked with a laptop. It’s what I’m comfortable with and every record is another learning process in one way or another.
HAPPY: Which tv show are you currently watching?
ROY: I’ve been rewatching Mind Hunter. It’s pretty good. I watched That 90’s Show the other night. Awful.
HAPPY: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
ROY: I’ve never been a huge reader, regrettably. I was and still am a person that just watches the same things over and over again. Watching skateboarding videos on VHS when I was a teenager had a big influence and introduced me to a lot of music I’d never heard before.
HAPPY: What did you read or watch last that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective?
ROY: I watched a documentary on Dennis Wilson from the Beach Boys. I never knew much about him. It just reminded me that self-destruction which is so often romanticized sucks… so I guess it was a reminder to look after yourself the best you can and focus on the things you love doing.
HAPPY: What kind of things do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
ROY: I love cooking and playing Pokemon. Spending time with my friends. Buying new music.
HAPPY: Lastly, and most importantly makes you happy?
ROY: Being calm. Being kind.
Listen to Clover below and watch the gorgeous video by Morgan Leary.
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