posted by Lu
last month

Ever since the release of his debut album Lailonie, the name Marsh has echoed far and wide within the melodic house scene. My gateway into Marsh was actually not through his emotionally rich music, but rather, his popular series of recorded sets on YouTube that garner millions of streams. His prowess as a tastemaker lured me into his world, and when I discovered his music I really became a fan.

Marsh has become known for his distinctly warm, emotive sound inspired by early 2000s trance and light drum & bass. These influences are distilled into the essence of melodic house, and for Marsh, this has led to becoming a fan favorite on Anjunadeep, ongoing tours across the globe, and millions of streams across DSPs. Recently, Marsh has expanded his horizons and began inviting the sounds of acid house, breakbeat, and UKG into his work. This was not only apparent throughout his 2023 album Endless, but also his newest release "Warrior" - a track dedicated to his friend who was battling with illness. Throughout this interview, Marsh opens up about the making of "Warrior", his creative process, and so much more.

How would you describe the ways in which your family upbringing contributed to nurturing your creative side?

Both my parents grew up playing classical instruments and performing in orchestras and choirs. They both love classical music but Mum loves a variety of music and especially enjoys electronic dance music. I’d hear a lot of different music while we were in the car driving around. Mum played french horn and piano, Dad played the violin, and can both play them still. They both encouraged me to learn a musical instrument from an early age. We had a piano in the house and I started playing it at age 6. I suppose that this is what initially got my creative juices flowing. Honestly, I’ve always been creative for as long as I can remember. I loved drawing, painting, building - anything arty! But I fell in love with dance music in my early teens and started to explore composing my own music when I was at high school. 

Many of your fans know that you were heavily into Trance music when you were younger and it still influences your music to this day. What was it about that '90s/'00s era of Trance that you found so compelling, and why do you think that sound is experiencing a bit of a comeback lately?

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There was something raw about the music, it was analog, rough around the edges, lots of 909 drum beats combined with jacking house grooves. It was emotional music that connected with people deeply, speaking through chord progressions and melodies but it was always fun and it never took itself too seriously. It’s an amazing genre of music. It's an amazing sound. It’s energetic, driving, great to dance to. It’s just fun music. Fun music comes back around.

Before you went full-time into production, you've previously mentioned that you were working an office job. At which point did it feel right for you to quit and pursue a career in music?

I worked a full-time job selling Apple Macs suites to schools. This was fulfilling for me as it gave kids such an exciting opportunity to experience and learn how to write music. When I was at school, we had PCs that would start to smoke if you were running more than 6 channels of audio. With the setups we were selling, you could write fully-fledged tracks with the tools the software provided right out of the box.

Meanwhile, I was finishing work at 5pm and driving home to work late into the night composing music. Towards the end of 2017 I was finishing up my first artist album, Life On The Shore which I released a few months before moving to the States.

In my first year of living in the US, as I waited for my Green Card to come, I was not legally allowed to work. So, with all of the free time I had, I wrote a ton of music. I had been trying to sign music to Anjunadeep for about 6 years. I was heavily inspired by the sound of the label, the brand, and the owners of Above & Beyond. I knew the label was the home for my sound and I also knew the label could provide me with an opportunity to do music full-time. But it took six years of sending demos, many ghosted emails, and moments where it looked positive but then things fell short. Eventually, towards the end of my first year of living in America, I sent a 5 track EP to Anjuna and they were interested and finally decided to sign some stuff. I kept my foot in the door by sending them more music and then they signed more and more and started to offer show opportunities. I thought this could be the moment to jump on this and give it my all and do it full-time. I'm blessed that it's paid off. I took a bit of a risk with it and the first year just about made enough to stay afloat but I kept going with it and I am so thankful for this decision today.

For you, what does it mean to "make it" in the music industry? And do you feel as if you've reached that position?

Other than the day that Stereofox ask for an interview. That's a really good question. My answer will probably change over time but I think that you’ve made it when you’ve got to a point in your career where you could completely step off the gas and your career would be completely safe. For example, you could stop touring and even releasing music but the fans will continue to play your music over and over, eagerly waiting for your next release or move and your music will continue to attract new fans. You could essentially jump back into touring at any point and know you could sell tickets at venues worldwide. You are not in that phase anymore where you have to say yes to every single thing and stress constantly about writing the next big track. That's when I'd say you've “made it”. Do I feel like I've reached that position? Not quite but I’m going to keep working hard to try and get there!

What have you learned from working with and releasing with pretty much all of the biggest labels within your genre?

I think that it’s important to build loyalty with a label. You show you’re committed to investing in their brand and they will show that they are committed to investing in your brand. Build real friendships with people at the label. Friendships that will outlive anything that happens business-wise. Many of the guys at Anjuna have become close friends. We catch up on stuff other than the music.

I’m still learning but I believe that good music can shine on whatever label it goes on. Good music is the most important thing.

When you find yourself constantly creating and overflowing with ideas, how do you determine which ideas to pursue and develop into full-fledged releases? 

I just have to go with my gut. Whatever is exciting me the most. Usually it's an idea that I wake up excited to get back to work on. I’m locked in and the idea pulls me back to it. I usually have a good sense then that it is going to be worth fighting for and finishing.

Talking about releases, your latest track stems from a deeper place as it's a dedication to your friend who was battling illness. With so many emotions involved behind this, how did that alter your creative process?

It’s funny because I didn't start out the track "Warrior" thinking how can I write a track attributing to Jimmy. I started "Warrior" as I start all tracks - I open a blank project and I start to jam and attempt to have fun. As the ideas started to come together, a lot of it sort of made me think of Jimmy and it made sense to title it and tribute it to Jimmy. 

We both grew up loving Trance music. We connected over our shared interests in Trance melodies, emotions and atmospheres. We also loved a good baseline. I’m a bit biased but I felt like the elements in "Warrior" ticked a lot of the boxes that me and Jim looked for in music. It just all made sense. It didn't alter the creative decisions I made in the writing process, but it definitely altered the naming process and it quickly gave me direction that the track would be a tribute to Jim and his fight.

Marsh · Warrior

How are you trying to make people feel, or what kind of space are you wanting to put people in after they've experienced this release?

Wow, that question is almost too grand to answer. I write music that excites me and moves me and gets me excited to share with other people. I guess I want to create moments where time stands still and safe spaces where people can get lost in the music and process the many ups and downs of their lives.

What does playing your music live give you that hearing it in the studio can't?

Obviously you've got the live, visual feedback from the audience. Some tracks just work and some fall flat. Some records don't quite give you the reaction you were anticipating and so you can go back to the studio and make changes and tweaks. However, it definitely helps when the music is out. When people know the track it always gets a better reaction but I guess this goes back to an earlier point - Good music speaks for itself and if it’s a great track, people are going to love it before it’s released. When people are begging you for the ID and you can see a buzz online before the release, these are great signs! For my single ‘Everything’, the fans knew the words before it was released!

Which aspects of touring do you find the most challenging, and what makes them difficult for you?

I think it's the sleep deprivation that is pretty hard for me. Half of the battle is finding time to catch up on sleep. Sometimes it’s in airports, lots of times on planes, and sometimes in hotel lobbies when they won't let you check in early... 

Being away from home for so long every weekend is challenging. It becomes incredibly tough to maintain healthy relationships and friendships.

I’d say another challenge honestly is getting burnt out of your own music! Hear me out, when I go to see my favorite artist in concert, I go because I love their record X or Y. As an artist, I feel like I owe it to the fans at the shows to play the music they've come out to hear! I feel incredibly diva even mentioning this but it's a funny one - you start to get pretty sick of your own music! By the time a new track is released, 9 times out of 10 I’ve had the track made for a year and have spent months listening back to it, tweaking every single detail in the record. Not to mention the countless hours exporting it and listening back for little glitches in the recording. Then you’re listening over and over to the mastering, to make sure it’s perfect, then tweaking more. Etc.! You go round and round in circles over every record. So you're pretty tired of the record by the time it comes out but it’s at this exact moment that the record becomes day 1 fresh to the fans and now they want to hear it at every show for the next year to two years! (And so they should!) I've got so many records that I'm proud of, but you can definitely get tired playing a similar set each weekend. There's a mental thing too; I think about fans who have come to see me 5 times that year and if I play a similar set I don't want to disappoint them, or for them to get bored. But I guess if they’ve come out 5 times they probably want to hear those tracks again, and again anyway!

In an ideal scenario, what do you think would be the most EPIC and memorable way to conclude the year 2024?

No big answer for this. I am going to see how the year develops and how it pans out. I am going to write the best music I can and an epic conclusion to the year for me would be to have music that I am waiting to release that I am very excited about. I think getting to the end of year with a better tour/work - life balance than I did in 2023 is also important to me because I definitely did not last year. If I get to the end of the year feeling fired up, passionate about what I did in the year and feel inspired and creative to go into 2025 then this would be a very successful year!

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