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Auckland’s Spotify superstar

​Roy Irwin. Photo Joseph Leary
​Roy Irwin. Photo Joseph Leary
His first hit, Demon’s Cave, has been played millions of times worldwide. Now, Auckland musician Roy Irwin is back with some fresh new tunes.


The Youtube comments on Roy Irwin’s song, Demon’s Cave, are filled with wildly emphatic praise. “You are hands down my favourite artist,” one commenter wrote. “This guy needs more recognition!” said another. Over on Spotify, the song has has had over 6 million plays, and features on several major playlists, including ‘Ultimate Indie’, (which has 1.8 million followers) as well as one released to coincide with the second season of Stranger Things.

The Auckland musician recently released two new singles, Bully and Awful from a forthcoming album. I sat down with him in the bedroom of his Mt Eden home to talk about the new album, making music solo and developing his own sound. 

“It was just luck,” Roy says, when I ask about the popularity of Demon’s Cave. S.O.D.A was the first physical album I’d ever made. I didn't even want to put music on Spotify. When distributors emailed me I ignored them for about six months.”

The catchy two-minute song featured on Roy’s 2016 album, S.O.D.A. Like all Roy’s work, it was recorded and mixed in his bedroom on GarageBand, the free music program that comes with all Apple computers. I ask him if this do-it-yourself attitude towards making and releasing music comes from necessity, or if it’s his preference.

 “I never thought about recording myself. Then ten years ago I got a computer that had Garageband, so I wanted to make the most out of it,” he says. “I started buying mics and interfaces and stuff. But I think now it's definitely just how I prefer to do things. I couldn’t imagine doing it with anybody else.” 

Roy Irwin- Photo Joseph Leary

Although he got his start playing in punk bands in high school, creating music in isolation has led Roy to develop a unique sound. Most of his songs are up-tempo and catchy, but there’s a distant melancholy to them, as though someone is listening to music in the other room.

“I do go for a particular sound which basically sounds like you’re underwater,” Roy says. “I want to create an environment for someone that's listening to it on headphones.”

Since S.O.D.A, Roy has released a second album, King Of Pop, in 2017, and is currently putting the finishing touches on his new self-titled album, Roy Irwin. Once that’s in the bag, he plans to tour his music through New Zealand for the first time.

“I definitely want to do a national tour, because that's something I still haven’t done. I’m not sure about going overseas at tehis point, but I am thinking of setting a goal of going back to the States because I’ve never done that solo.” 

Listen to his Roy’s new single, Awful, on Bandcamp.

Written by

Dominic Hoey

6 Nov 2019

Dominic Hoey is an author, playwright and poet based in Tāmaki Makaurau. His debut novel, Iceland was a New Zealand bestseller and was long-listed for the 2018 Ockham Book Award.