While 2020 has been a hard year for almost every touring artist in the electronic music world, it is has been a year of extreme and difficult change for Anjunadeep’s Marsh.
Thomas Marshall, known as Tom to friends and Marsh to his fans, relocated to Cincinnati from the United Kingdom in the middle of the COVID pandemic. Not only is such as life transition difficult for just about anyone, but it proved even more so for the British producer, DJ and music teacher given the health crisis the world found itself in during the move.
Culture shock and the general anxieties of a pandemic aside, Tom has been dealing with further stress given that his wife is a nurse and has been on the COVID battle frontlines ever since they moved to Ohio. As you’d expect from almost every artist in such a situation, Marsh has collected these emotions and experiences and has translated them into art, namely the release of his new Anunadeep album Lailonie, which was introduced to the world this past November with support from Joris Voorn, Kölsch, and RÜFÜS DU SOL, along with Pete Tong, Danny Howard, and Phil Taggart at BBC Radio 1.
The LP and its title track are a testament to the healing and spiritual power of music in the face of tragedy, coming together in the midsts of a pandemic and in the wake of the unexpected passing of a beloved family member when he unexpectedly and suddenly had to say goodbye to his mother-inlaw, Carme, at the end of 2018.
Musically, the album is a series of snapshots taken at different points as Marsh processed moving to a new country, getting married, the pain of loss, and traveling to different places.
We encourage you to press play and listen to this sonic journey from Marsh while reading our exclusive interview with him where we dissect each of the life steps that brought him here.
Hi Tom, really appreciate you chatting with us today especially with everything you have going on… like the release of your album. Congrats! I know this is a deeply personal album for you. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of his album. When was it born and what has been the journey to get it completed and released?
Thanks for having me on board! Lailonie is a series of snapshots taken at different points over the last three years in my life as I’ve processed moving to a new country, getting married, traveling to incredible places. I’ve also experienced the pain of loss. We unexpectedly and suddenly had to say goodbye to my wife Maddy’s mom Carme at the end of 2018. I’ve had to rapidly learn how to love and stand by Maddy as we process this pain. We live in a world with so much going on. I think it’s important to have a safe place you can go to catch your breath, process life and grow. Lailonie has been that place for me while I’ve been writing. I hope it can be that place for my listeners.
What does the title of the album, Lailonie, mean?
Lailonie is a tribute to my best friend and wonderful wife, Maddy. ‘Lailonie’ is one of Maddy’s middle names. It’s a Hawaiian word meaning ‘heavenly flower’. ‘Leilani’ would be the official spelling but Maddy’s Mom Carme decided to give her own unique spin for the middle name.
Lailonie comes out on Anjunadeep and that alone already tells a prospective listener what kind of sound they can expect. Why is Anjunadeep the right label for this deeply introspecting and moving LP?
Their sound has evolved over the years but at the heart of every release there is a consistent theme of emotional, soulful music. The label doesn’t shy away from releasing music that processes every emotion under the sun in an authentic, rawn and truthful way. This is healing for a lot of people and gives them a place to process what they’re going through in their lives. This is exactly the same message I wanted to share through the album.
In terms of the individual tracks themselves… I have to admit you that they exude all sorts of moving emotions. What were your emotions and feelings while producing them and what do you hope they convey to your fans and listeners?
There’s all sorts of emotion packed into the album: The awe of seeing incredible waterfalls and scenery in Iceland in ‘Foss’. A tribute to memories created at ‘Florence’ Terrace, the house I lived in while I studied at University and ‘Beech Street’, the road I’ve lived on for the past three years. There’s the feeling of infatuation explored in ‘Over & Over’, ‘Lailonie’ and ‘Amor’. Then there’s processing the many hard ways I’ve had to grow in married life: The feeling when you’ve given everything but it ‘Wasn’t Enough’, The feeling when you’ve let someone down or you’ve been let down by someone else when they said they would be ‘There For Me’. There’s also the pain of loss, expressed throughout the album but given specific focus in ‘Carme’.
You recently moved to the United States, and I can imagine that the move happening in the middle of the COVID pandemic was extra difficult. What has the moving and adjustment experience been like?
I actually moved over at the end of 2017 so I had two blissful years before it all hit the fan this year. For the most part, I’ve loved living here. We live in a beautiful part of Cincinnati that really reminds me of England where I grew up. It’s quiet and peaceful here and I have a really inspiring view out of my studio window. Honestly, the hardest part has been adjusting and learning to live with someone else! But when I initially arrived in the States, I felt very out of place; I wasn’t allowed to work, had no drivers license, no car, no friends closeby, no social security number. I definitely felt like I didn’t belong here.
Did you manage to get your studio set-up alright?
Yes. I got it all shipped over. It took around 6 weeks but this gave me a much needed break after releasing ‘Life On The Shore’ in June 2017. Part of this time was spent in Hawaii on honeymoon and a lot of the time was spent building IKEA furniture.
Has it been difficult for you to get into the music production groove given all the changes in your life and the utterly strange and unexpected 2020 we are having?
Not really! I’ve been doing this for 11 years now. I’ve got a better understanding of my creativity, how I get into the flow, when to call it a day and turn on the Xbox or when to stay up all night until I’ve got the idea out! It’s the same thing in the studio amidst all the noise happening in the world. This is my place to process so there will always be stuff happening in the world out of my control and I can come to my place, escape and process life through the music I write. At the start of Covid I wrote 4 or 5 new tracks that will surface at the end of this year / early next year. I then spent all my time polishing the album, getting it ready for mastering and juggling all of the press work. The album alone has been a full time job.
What has kept you motivated throughout all of this?
I’ve just remained hopeful that we will get past all the crap that has made this year one of the worst in my life. Covid won’t affect us like this forever. The presidential mess can hopefully leave us alone for 4 more years before they start bombarding us with all their shit again. Honestly, there’s been so much to get depressed about this year. The news has really affected my sense of peace and I’ve got lost in the rabbit hole at times. It’s not been healthy for me. For me, it’s my faith that Jesus is in control and he’s much bigger than all of this mess. So I’ve been clinging on to him and he has brought me all the hope and motivation I’ve needed to make it through this year.
What have been some of the positives you’ve experienced from the lockdown and the madness that we are all living?
My initial feeling was something sarcy here: “slim pickings’ but as I process there have been a lot of positives that have come this year. I’m almost reluctant to admit any positives from such a horrible year but we learn most in trials and there have actually been many positives. Family Zoom calls every other week. Call of Duty with the guys back in England and a mate in New York who has become one of my best mates. Come to think of it, some of the guys Maddy and I met in Albania, many of which are from New York, have become some of our closest friends through the pandemic. And then, while I’ve missed touring deeply, it’s bought me so much time to finish the album. I honestly don’t know how I would have got everything done if I was touring this year. This has bought me time to build some super strong music for next year also! Live streaming has turned into an absolute joy and my community of fans have become dear friends that I look forward to hanging out with all week on the twitch streams!
We talked about your move to the States earlier. What are some things you enjoy about living here now?
I’m enjoying the slower pace of living in Cincinnati. I have the opportunity to do music full time and this is largely down to the low cost of living here in Cincy. We’ve got some awesome breweries near us. They’re always bringing out new craft beers to try. Maddy’s also got a wonderful, ginormous family here so we spend lots of time with those guys.
What do you think about the American food you’ve had so far?
I have to say, when we go out for food, my overall enjoyment of the food is actually better than back home in the UK. Everything is done that little bit better in my honest opinion. It’s super rare that I go out for food that I’d say was average. Also, there’s a high level of service you receive here, drinks kept topped up and constant check ups to make sure the food is great. It highlights an area in England that could do with improvement. That said! I miss curry in England. It’s decent here in Cincy but it’s got NOTHING on Indian food in the UK. That’s my favourite food in the whole world, apart from Indian food in India of course!
What are some of your favorite Cincinnati spots for food, hang out, etc?
We’ve got a great place up the road which really blossomed during Covid. It’s called 50 West, they’re a craft brewery that makes some of the best beer around but during Covid, they opened a massive outdoor dining area and started selling some great burgers. So it became a key meeting place for family and friends. There’s great breweries here aside from 50 West and they’re all great for hanging out. We love Brewdog, Rhinegeist, MadTree. There’s great pizza at a spot really close to us called Mac’s Pizza.
I know COVID has put a damper on the move to the U.S. but have you gotten to explore beyond Cincinnati at all?
Touring has taken me to all major cities. The States is truly a beautiful place. You can experience tropical beaches, mountains, deserts and arctic conditions if that floats your boat. It’s no wonder a lot of Americans never leave the US! Kawaii was absolutely stunning on our honeymoon. Maddy & I also love Estes Park, Colorado. Such a cute town right on the border of the Rocky Mountain National Park where there’s incredible sights to see and hikes to hike! Special mention also to Santa Barbara, CA. I have beautiful memories of sipping a coffee on the front deck of a beautiful, quaint hotel I stayed at before playing an intimate rooftop show at Hotel California. Incredible.
Is there a particular city, state or part of the States you’d like to visit once you can?
I’ve yet to see the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone National Park… There’s still tons to see!
By the way, what else do you do besides music production and DJing? I heard you teach music?
As mentioned, Covid has re-birthed an unhealthy addiction to Call of Duty. I love reading a good fantasy, playing a super complicated and strategic board game. Yes, I’m a big nerd. I have been teaching music production on the side for the last three years. I also grew up playing Tennis every day and love to play from time to time here.
How can someone receive lessons?
You can drop me an email at: email@example.com
What would you say your biggest hobby/passion is besides music and family?
Probably gaming. Something competitive!
What’s your favorite meal?
Thanks for the chat mate and congrats again on the album?
My pleasure! Great questions.