Marlon Williams Announces New Album, Shares Video for New Song “Thinking of Nina”

Jun 15, 2022

By Mark Redfern

Photography by Derek Henderson


New Zealand singer/songwriter/guitarist Marlon Williams has announced a new album, My Boy, and shared a new song from it, “Thinking of Nina,” a song inspired by the Cold War spy drama The Americans. It was shared via a film noir-esque video. My Boy is due out September 9 via Dead Oceans. Check out “Thinking of Nina” below, followed by the album’s tracklist and cover art, as well as Williams’ upcoming tour dates.

In May Williams shared the album’s title track (also its opening track), “My Boy,” via an amusing video. “My Boy” was one of our Songs of the Week.

Williams had this to say about “Thinking of Nina” in a press release: “This is a song about the dangers of wearing different faces in different places, of waging wars on multiple fronts; of having so many selves as to not be a self at all. Also at play is the dark phenomenon of White Knight Syndrome; the desire to simplify, infantilise, protect and ultimately commodify an object of desire. The video, imagined and concocted by the exciting duo who make up Sports Team and myself draws on the silliest stylings of the ’80s New Wave a la Spandau Ballet’s ‘Gold’ and Duran Duran’s ‘A View to a Kill.’”

Directors Sports Team had this to add: “We shot the bulk of it in one day, with Marlon going full Bogart, smoking a heroic amount of cigarettes for the part. Special mention must go to Alice May Connolly in the role of Nina, who transcended her small screen time to convince us this fictional ’60s spy show may exist? Or else it needs to.”

If “Thinking of Nina” is inspired by The Americans, the Emmy-winning drama about KGB agents posing as an American family in the 1980s that aired on FX from 2013 to 2018, then the song’s title could be referring to supporting character Nina Sergeevna Krilova (a KGB agent played by Annet Mahendru).

Williams opted not to record My Boy with his long-time backing band The Yarra Benders. Instead he demoed half the album with Mark ‘Merk’ Perkins. Then he worked with producer Tom Healy (Tiny Ruins, The Chills) at Neil Finn’s Roundhead studios in Auckland in late 2020. There he worked with LA-based drummer Paul Taylor (Feist), bassist Cass Basil (Ladyhawke, Tiny Ruins), and Healy on guitars and synths. There were also appearances from Delaney Davidson and Elroy Finn (on drums and percussion). Dave Kahn is the only member of The Yarra Benders to play on the album.

“Having new personalities in the room allowed me to escape myself,” says Williams. “When everyone’s still working out each other’s roles, there’s an unsettling and exciting tendency to go off in different directions…. It happened naturally. I was listening to more steely, New Romantic stuff, like Duran Duran, John Grant, Perfume Genius, the Bee Gees. All those things fed into the machine.”

Of the themes on My Boy, Williams says: “There’s a lot of male shapes on the record. Growing up an only child, I had to outsource my brothers and build a world around me. So while masculinity is a big theme, it’s really subsumed by broader explorations of vitality, and the social and cultural value placed on legacy.”

Williams’ last full-length was his sophomore album, Make Way For Love, released back in February 2018 via Dead Oceans. In 2019 he released his first official live album, Live at Auckland Town Hall.

Williams has also been acting of late, appearing in the Netflix DC Comics TV adaptation Sweet Tooth, as well as acting in the films The True History of the Kelly Gang, Lone Wolf, and The Beautiful Lie. Williams also appeared in the hit Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga musical romance A Star Is Born, playing himself as a younger star tapped to lead a Roy Orbison tribute at the Grammys instead of Cooper’s somewhat aging rocker Jackson Maine.

“I’ve always explored different character elements in my music,” says Williams. “And I think the more I get into acting, the more tricks I’m learning about representation and presentation. I’m trying to make my worlds feed into each other as much as possible. To get braver and bolder with exploring shifting contexts and new ways of doing things.”

Read our 2017 interview with Marlon Williams on Make Way For Love.

Read our 2016 interview with Marlon Williams.

My Boy Tracklist:

1. My Boy
2. Easy Does It
3. River Rival
4. My Heart The Wormhole
5. Princes Walk
6. Don’t Go Back
7. Soft Boys Make The Grade
8. Thinking of Nina
9. Morning Crystals
10. Trips
11. Promises

Marlon Williams Tour Dates:

Wed. Sep. 14 – Boston, MA @ The Sinclair *
Thu. Sep. 15 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Made *
Fri. Sep. 16 – Washington, DC @ The Miracle Theater *
Sat. Sep. 17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s *
Mon. Sep. 19 – Toronto, ON @ The Great Hall *
Wed. Sep. 21 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall *
Thu. Sep. 22 – Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club *
Sat. Sep. 24 – Denver, CO @ Lost Lake ^
Tue. Sep. 27 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern ^
Wed. Sep. 28 – Vancouver, BC @ Hollywood Theater ^
Thu. Sep. 29 – Portland, OR @ Aladdin Theater ^
Mon. Oct. 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Troubadour ^
Wed. Oct. 19 – Dublin, IE @ Button Factory #
Fri. Oct. 21 – Glasgow, IE @ King Tuts #
Sat. Oct. 22- Leeds, UK @ Brudenell #
Sun. Oct. 23 – Manchester, UK @ YES #
Tue. Oct. 25 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare & Hounds #
Wed. Oct. 26 – London, UK @ Koko #
Sat. Oct. 29 – Paris, FR @ La Maropquinerie #
Sun. Oct. 30 – Zurich, CH @ BogenF #
Wed. Nov. 2 – Munich, DE @ Ampere #
Thu. Nov. 3 – Berlin, DE @ Hole44 #
Sat. Nov. 5 – Copenhagen, DK @ Hotel Cecil #
Sun. Nov. 6 – Oslo, NE @ Parkteatret #
Mon. Nov. 7 – Stockholm, SE @ Nalen Klubb #
Wed. Nov. 9 – Hamburg, DE @ Nochtspeicher #
Thu. Nov. 10 – Cologne, DE @ Artheatre #
Sat. Nov. 12 – Antwerp, DE @ TRIX #
Sun. Nov. 13 – Amsterdam, NE @ Paradiso #

* = with Jo Schornikow
^ = with Merk
# = with Reb Fountain

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