Friday, March 15, 2013

Remembering Darcy Clay

Today marks 15 years since Darcy Clay died. I was lucky enough to meet him a handful of times - firstly to talk about directing a music video for him. Trevor Reekie (Antenna Recordings  his label) put me onto him, as Darcy had got an NZ On Air music video grant. He had some great ideas - doing a big song and dance number down Queen st - but eventually decided he'd rather work on some recording instead and ditched the music video. Later I got to interview him for Pavement magazine, see below. The following interview will be included in my book I Believe You Are A Star, out May.

Darcy Clay: He’s evil?!

Published in Pavement, August/September 1997

Having already conquered the pop charts, twisted Auckland musician Darcy Clay now has his sights set further afield.

"I wouldn't mind going to Africa and spending some time with the lions," he intones. "I'd like to travel. Music is not the greatest thing in the world. It's one of them but it's not the only one, as far as I'm concerned. I want to get into Pavement magazine and I want to be on the cover of Time." Well, he's halfway there then.

Darcy Clay has taken the airwaves by storm. His infectious pop ditty Jesus I Was Evil has been all over student radio for a while and now, with the release of his six song CD of the same name, he's set to become a household name. Maybe that sounds a tad optimistic for a song recorded at home on a four-track but the CD is already cutting through the NZ top 20, debuting at number 18 and rising to number 5.

The Clean hold the title as the last New Zealand band to make the charts with a DIY four-track recording back in the early-'80s. But what's behind the enigmatic man who came up with the great auto-racing couplet: "I used to crash parties and Maseratis. Jesus I was evil!" I ventured out to deepest Grey Lynn, the cutting edge of home recording (Chris Knox, come on down!) to find out.

When I arrive, Darcy is standing in front of his piano pounding away, playing along intently to a tune on his Walkman. We adjourn to his front porch for a quick chat in the face of a damn crisp early evening.

Why avoid the traditional recording studio route and record at home? "It's good. You can record at any time of the day. It's cheap. There's no pressure. And you're alone. I like that. You don't have to talk to anybody, just suit yourself."

What's it like being famous now?

"I don't know. I'm not famous. John Lennon's famous. I guess being known, it makes it easier. People are more willing to lend you gear."

Clay is planning to record some new songs soon too. "I'm going to do about five or six songs at home and release them, then do an album in a proper studio. I don't care where, as long as it's with a good engineer."

And then there's that trip to Africa...

Darcy Clay: Discography
Darcy Clay, ten years on (23/4/2008)

David Gunson shot and directed the video for Jesus I Was Evil, here's his notes on the making of it, from The Film Archive: "The song was a bfm radio hit and Daniel (Darcy) needed a music video fast! I shot footage of his concert at the BFM summer series, and then he and I spent an afternoon hooning round for extra angles.The cameras were what was available at short notice and no money. A hand cranked 16mm camera, VHS camera deck, Hi-8 video. 

"The idea was to make it loose and random. Daniel sweet talked to MAX TV so after hours Ian Bennett cut the clip together for us. We were short on shots thou, so keeping with the random concept we used some shots from my short films The Fall and Post Apocolyptic Blues. The music clip suited the music brilliantly, because they were both low-fi and full of odd ball energy. The shot of Darcy snorting the mountain range of illicit cocaine is actually custard powder! Later, I believe the record company re-edited the clip adding additional concert footage."

Watch: Dylan Taite interviewing Darcy, 1997. Taite: "It's like nothing you've heard before, but in fact, it's like everything you've heard."


Anonymous said...

A god damned shame he's gone :(

Anonymous said...

Fuuuuuck. I was expecting words, but not that photo. Didn't realise how much I miss him. I think it was Bill who said: "he gave us a tiny glimpse, but what a view".


Anonymous said...

i remember going into Auckland City as a 10 year old with my parents and seeing DARCY CLAY LIVES spraypainted everywhere.

took me 7 more years to find out who Darcy was

Clint Coker said...

I just found this music a few months ago and it's amazing, I feel sad,mad,and stupid for not finding it years ago. What a talent!It's like "here's something wonderful,but you're way too late"..RIP Darcy.