Introducing: Marsh

Telling his story of healing and inner peace through his deep and progressive sound, Marsh is quickly establishing himself as one of the most enchanting artists in dance music. Cameron Holbrook learns more.

14 min
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Jan 25, 2021
Cameron Holbrook

“This was the one,” Tom Marshall says, at his copy of the Ministry of Sound compilation, Classic Euphoria, with a satisfied grin on his face. His cat Gemma, a mischievous celebrity from his weekly livestreams, sits cozily positioned in the background as he dials in from his home studio in Cincinnati. “This is where it all began.” Marshall, better known as Anjunabeats/Anjunadeep artist Marsh, is clearly nostalgic as he talks about the transformative three-disc trance release from 2006. “It’s got stuff like Gouryella, lots of old Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, old Tiësto, and so much more that got me into trance music.”

As one of the most popular and recently sought after acts in progressive house, Tom Marshall, AKA Marsh, has been organically building up a fanbase that has taken his name and sound to the most sincere clutches of their hearts. His recruitment into the Anjuna family two years ago both provided a significant boost to his career — it changed his life. He’s been dreaming of this moment since first falling in love with electronic music 15 years ago

Growing up just outside of Brighton, UK, Marshall was attuned to melody and musical structure from a very young age, with two musical parents who encouraged his classical piano study. “I didn’t really enjoy it much,” he says, candidly. “It was more of a chore for me, growing up.” After going through the motions of the “system of piano examination” in England, it inevitably took a back seat once synthesized music cracked his creative talent wide open.

“I had just turned 18, and we took the hour and a half train ride to London to see Sean Tyas at Ministry Of Sound,” Marshall says, reminiscing about one of his first nights out on the dance floor. “We were committed at this point because the trains stop running overnight, and you have to basically get the first train home, which leaves at 6:00 AM. The funny thing was we didn’t realize that there were different rooms. We were in the bar-room, listening to deep house and falling asleep at 4:00 AM, thinking we got scammed. Then we saw the sign for The Box just when we were getting ready to leave. We walked into the room, astounded by our stupidity, but Sean had just come on. It was perfect timing and totally amazing. We stayed right up until the end.”

Check out Marsh’s ‘Selected’ Chart on Beatport.

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Tuning in to Armin van Buuren‘s famed State of Trance and Above & Beyond‘s Trance Around The World radio shows weekly, Marshall found himself fully immersed in the synth-buoyant euphoria of trance and progressive house. Translating his classical wherewithal into dance music dynamism, he hopped onto Logic in 2009 and started the prolonged process of mastering his DAW.

Two years into his own production journey, Marshall attended a three-year program at Kingston University in London to study music technology. He describes the course itself as “a bit of a fail,” saying that it neglected to teach him much of what he had hoped to learn. What he got instead was “three years to do music full-time” from his dormitory bedroom, a time which he says he “wouldn’t change for the world” (despite still being debt from it). It was also at University that he met his now-wife, Maddy — who works as a nurse in Cincinnati — and where his Marsh moniker first took form.

During one of his dorm room sessions in 2012, Marshall wrote the first track that would capture global attention. “Sleeping Now,” released on LA-based imprint Silk Music’s trance and progressive house sub-label, Arrival, was played as Record Of The Week on Above & Beyond’s Trance Around The World radio show. “I was like ‘Whoa, that’s big. This is it! I’m there. This is the start…’ But it wasn’t really,” Marshall says. “The track sadly isn’t even available anymore due to sampling issues, and the start was many more years to come, but I just kept plugging away, my sound shifted, and I went a little bit deeper.”

Sticking with Silk Music, Marshall began to form a lush and distinct progressive and deep house identity over the next couple of years, pushing out notable tracks like “Your Eyes,” “Face To Face,” and eventually, his 2017 debut album, Life On The Shore. Despite his gratitude and love for the label that first put him on, in Marshall’s mind, there was only once place where he felt like his music belonged.

“It’s important to note that I have loved Anjuna for so long, and I’ve always sort of felt that that was the true home for the music I was writing,” he says. “Despite this, they’re impossibly hard to sign with. So many people want to be a part of that label, understandably. It really did take me five or six years of sending music. I was always going to events as a fan while also trying to meet with the guys behind the scenes that might listen to a demo. It was quite a roller coaster ride trying to work with them. Lots of ups and downs and thinking, ‘This is the best thing I’ve written. Why have they not wanted this?'”

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After a four and a half year long-distance relationship with Maddy, he made the jump across the pond and moved to Ohio to marry his girlfriend. Transitioning to the States with a new home, a new home studio, and fresh prospects, Marshall cranked out a handful of tracks with an innovative and distinguished direction that finally caught Anjuna’s attention. “Black Mountain” was released on Anjunadeep in 2018, and Marshall’s dream was realized. By 2019, gigs began rolling in.

The Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington State Park — a hotspot for Above & Beyond’s Group Therapy sessions — came first, playing the venue with his collaborative brother in arms, Nox Vahn. “When I first got the email, I was like ‘flipping heck! That’s huge,” says Marshall, fully elated by the memory of it all. “Then I got a message saying ‘we also want you to play in this new debut festival we’re doing in Albania called Explorations.’ Then a month later, I got an email that said, ‘We want you to play next month at The Armory in Minneapolis, opening up for Above and Beyond.’ And that was massive. Fully packed to the brim with a crazy amount of people, it was an incredible experience.”

The partnership between Marshall and US artist Nox Vahn (formerly Fairchild) first came to fruition via their Prospect EP — a rich and dramatic collection of deep melodic house that was regularly rinsed at large open airs by the likes of James and Jody Wisternoff. That was followed by impressive releases like the Soul EP and the delicate two-tracker 1992 / Eu Phoria. Marshall’s name began to ring out amongst deep and progressive house fans worldwide.

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Before COVID changed everyone’s plans, Marshall was heading into 2020 with a stacked tour schedule. “There was stuff lined up like Printworks in London, two tours in Australia, and stints in both India and Spain,” Marshall says with a sigh. “I also had an upcoming gig on the Island of Mauritius, stuff in Mexico, Albania, the Anjuna open-air circuit, a gig at Avant Gardner in Brooklyn, and so much more.”

Despite the disappointment, Marshall’s outlook is one of positivity and patience. “I don’t feel like my career is gone,” he says. “It’s still very much alive. Live streaming is such a blessing that came out of such a bad 2020. It’s really connected me with my fans all over the world. I have this beautiful community of about 300 people who tune in each week for my Marsh & Cats livestream. I look forward to it all week.”

Many of these streams go beyond your boilerplate bedroom sessions. So far Marshall has lugged a 40-pound backpack and 55-pound generator up a mountain to stream on top of Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky, played drum & bass and trance sets, and has fostered a communal feel with his audience, who often share inside jokes with him. Between his uplifting Eu Topos EP and transportive Lost In You EP on Anjunadeep, Marshall’s 2020 releases wound up being the perfect antidote for many suffering the stay at home blues. He also once again linked up with Nox Vahn for one of Anjunadeep’s most popular tracks of the year, “Come Together” — a meditative masterpiece featuring an Alan Watts sample, a lively arpeggiated lead, and layers upon layers of captivating soundscapes.

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Finishing the year strong, Marshall released his sophomore album, Lailonie, in November. Written as a testament to music’s healing and spiritual power in the face of tragedy, Marshall’s gorgeous 12-track album was a fitting sonic conclusion to one of the most challenging years in recent memory. Three years in the making, Lailonie acted as a restorative place for the artist during some of his gloomiest moments. Adorned with soaring melodies and vitalizing drum patterns, it’s a place that he hopes to share with the world.

“I get messages all the time from people talking about how my music’s been healing to them or has brought them through a really dark time,” Marshall says. “Some people share the deepest, most personal stuff about what’s happened in their life and how the music’s helped them through it. It can be strange and hard to process from time to time, but it’s humbling, and I’m so grateful that the music’s having this impact on people.”

Despite his mastery over deep and relaxing strains of electronic music, his latest track, a remix of Dosem’s “Eternal Summer,” reveals a new, more boisterous character surfacing in his music.

“Something that I struggle with is the fact that I love to be in a crowd where there’s good energy that you can move to, that you can dance to, that you can get sweaty to,” Marshall says. “I love the deep, laid-back music that I play — I love it. But I wanted to shift a bit more to something a bit more progressive. I’m still making those chill vibes, but I’m also genuinely inspired by combining early things that drew me to trance music that you don’t often find in today’s electronic style progressive music. More will reveal itself in 2021. A lot is coming.”

Check out Marsh’s Anjunadeep album ‘Lailonie‘ on Beatport.

Cameron Holbrook is Beatportal’s Assistant Editor. Find him on Twitter.