Auckland songwriter headed to Montreal for Red Bull Music Academy

Mark Perkins writes and performs under the moniker Merk.
Hugh Collins / Fairfax NZ

Mark Perkins writes and performs under the moniker Merk.

Playing as a session musician just wasn't satisfying Mark Perkins.

The 22-year-old artist performs and writes music under the moniker Merk, a project born as a result of getting "itchy feet" playing other people's music.

At the end of September the Aucklander will jet to Montreal to take part in the 2017 Red Bull Music Academy.

The two-week festival has workshops, lectures and performances that will see appearances from illustrious artists Bjork and Iggy Pop.

Over 3000 musicians worldwide apply for the prestigious event but only 50 are selected.

Perkins says the application process was "soul searching".

"They ask you things like 'draw us a picture of where you are in the musical universe' … I found it quite a rewarding experience."

Originally from Tauranga, Perkins also plays with Auckland group Fazerdaze, whose principal songwriter Amelia Murray was also accepted for the academy.

"It's really weird, two people from the same scene who play in each other's bands got accepted."

Working as a producer out of his small K Rd studio, Perkins describes Merk as a fusion of 90s indie rock and classic pop, such as The Carpenters and The Beatles.

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"I can hear those two worlds somehow combining a little bit ... I really want to be innovative and make new stuff that people have never done before."

While Perkins has spent considerable time playing as a session artist, his own songwriting was always in the background.  

"As fun as playing for other people is, I was never really fully satisfied by it because I always wanted to do my own thing.

"Other people just love to do session music … it starts and ends at the gig for them. I enjoy the artistry of writing."

Having travelled to the United States and United Kingdom with bands, he says there's something quite special about artists presently coming out of New Zealand. 

"Our scene is really high calibre per capita, it's really high quality.

"Even our own subculture here that we have in this studio and the basement downstairs, we're starting to build our own scene which is really special, it's the stuff that stories are made of."

Being a part of a community has enabled him to feed off other songwriters as he's written an album set for an October release.

"Songwriting is a lonely thing, when you're making an album it's a big task, it takes a lot of emotional energy so having people that are going through that same stuff around is quite cool."

Merk will perform as part of the Others Way Festival 2016 on Friday September 2.

Following from its inaugural event last year the festival will see over 30 acts perform across 10 K Rd venues.

Visit for tickets and more information. 

Listen to Merk's new single I'm Easy here


 - Stuff

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