Beats by Beat: MARSH LONG brings colour to the darkness in a euphoric techno set
25.03.2021

Beats by Beat: MARSH LONG brings colour to the darkness in a euphoric techno set

By Sam Howard

Welcome to Beats by Beat, our mix series for electronic music lovers. Head here if you missed the previous Beats by Beat mix, produced by DJ Mum.

MARSH LONG describes herself as a bright kaleidoscope of colours, yet frequents the city’s best electronic music institutions with her delicate version of dark techno.

She’s passionate about building a storyline and incorporating different concepts into every set, while remaining a master of feeding off a dancefloors’ energy, despite only being in the circuit for over a year.

Listen to this epic mix MARSH re-recorded multiple times in an effort to build a powerfully energetic mix to perfection.

At the end, hang around for an interview as we dive into her thoughts on being a perfectionist, her love of Revolver’s ability to create a home for anyone, and what’s important for her in a mix.

Transcript

Beat Magazine: Hello everyone – you’re listening to Beat Magazine’s Beats by Beat series and today we’re listening to a powerful, mammoth set from MARSH LONG, a local queen of techno who possesses an incredibly deep drive for incorporating purpose and building a storyline into every set.

She’s based here in Naarm, growing up playing classical piano and violin. Now, you’ll find her frequenting the decks at some of the most beloved techno events around. Keep an ear out at the end of this mix as we dive into MARSH’s passion for heavy beats, the colourful techno communities of the city and her visions for the future of her sound.

Thanks so much for that set MARSH, how are you going today.

MARSH: I’m good! Thanks so much for having me on, it’s such a privilege.

B: No worries and it’s such a good mix! It’s really evident how much passion you put into every one of your mixes. I know you grew up playing classical piano and violin, which is quite different to techno and tech house. So, when did you start mixing? And how did you end up falling in love with these genres in particular?

M: Yeah, I started mixing maybe like a year and a half, almost two years ago now. But prior to that, I was doing other kinds of music, doing classical music, and then obviously, like falling in love with that electronic sound. And then over time, just going out a lot,

I started Shazaming a lot of other DJs when they played, I was like, “Oh that’s a pretty good track.” And then sort of, like, built my playlists. And I thought, ‘You know what, I really want to rekindle my love for music’, maybe not in classical music, but you know, dance music, because I like the feeling of it and just sort of started playing a lot of the music that I’ve been collecting.

B: Can you tell us a little bit about your process in producing mixes? I know that you call yourself a little bit of a perfectionist, which, you know, sometimes can be good sometimes, you know, not so much. Can you tell us a little bit about building storylines into mixes? I know that you aim to incorporate a lot of different concepts and elements built into your sets, set around a particular structure. What kind of elements and concepts do you look out for and try to include and what’s important in creating a, like, full mix?

M: Well, the first thing is how I feel. I’m not very good at talking, I think for me, writing a speech isn’t particularly my forte, but expressing how I feel in music, I find that, you know, building an arc – I always call it the arc, like, you know, sort of hinting at the start, like, what I kind of want to create through the mix, but not giving up giving out too much. And then towards like the middle that’s like, that’s like the main investment, that’s a bit where I really want people to, like, feel how I’m feeling. And then towards the end, I usually take it on a different direction.

So, you know, beginning the set, not quite understanding where we’re going and then knowing in the middle of a set, that this is how I really want people to feel and then towards the end of the set, you know, it’s where can I take it to. So I like taking it two directions. The first one is really hitting people in the feels because if you get people in feels, when people attach an emotion to your set, then I feel like people remember the set so much more.

Whereas like, I can take it in another direction where I want to get people more pumped. And usually that’s also really nice at the end of the set because you get people excited and motivated and you know, just sometimes I even feel more confident bringing it in another direction.

For Beat Magazine, this set particularly, I wanted it to be a little bit more mellow. It was more of a throwback to like my earlier style of music and my collection and then towards the end is a lot more dramatic with the sounds where there’s a lot more going on. It’s almost kind of like, the future of sound – like where can I take it to.

B: And when you’re playing out, how much is usually a story that you’ve prepared compared to how much you’re editing and changing when you’re playing and performing?

M: Yeah, so that’s completely different when I’m performing – it’s like almost the complete opposite. I make it up and I never ever pre-plan my sets when I perform because I always want to feed off people’s energy. So, for example, I’ll start playing a song and I’ll see what people are reacting to. If they like lyrics, I’ll play more lyrics. If they like big horns and driving bass-lines then I’ll play more of that. It depends but I find that playing at different venues and learning the sound system and crowd, but the movement as well. So, at Chasers there’s always a wave where people go in and out.

I like playing and giving people space, and then giving people time to come back, that’s really important.

B: Have you found you’d had to chop and change depending a lot on the venues you play at?

M: Definitely different venues, different parties, different sound systems. Definitely different types of tunes and just understanding if people are feeling tired, what do you want to play – if they’re motivated but they’re really excited have they got too much energy?

B: You’ve been playing some really exciting parties, like Bunker coming up – a crew that’s been pretty institutional for techno for – it’s got to be at least nearly a decade now. And you’ve played at other classic homes, from Gaso to Revs, Inflation, Sub Club and Chasers as well. Where’s your ultimate favourite place to play music?

M: That’s hard to say! I think I don’t really know which party is my favourite. But the Revs set was definitely a really monumental moment. Because I only really started making friends and meeting people when I started going to Revs. Prior to that I didn’t really fit in, didn’t really have a home. And six or seven years ago, I started going to Revs.

I remember I got my first ever gig at the Gaso, and Spacey Space was headlining that gig. I was telling him, “I’m so excited! This is amazing one day I’m playing after you at Revs. And one day after COVID, the first weekend Revs opened again and Henry gave me a call on a Tuesday night and said, “MARSH, Revs is properly opening again this Sunday and I was wondering if you want to play Saturday afternoon,” and I tried to hold myself in, but actually I was so excited, the day came, and I couldn’t even sleep properly and was seeing all my friends at the front.

It brought so many memories back and then I actually played after Spacey Space and Spacey said to me, “Do you remember that day? You said you want to play after me?” I was like, “Yeah!” And oh my god, that day came. Then towards the second last song I played I started tearing up because it wasn’t just a set, there were so many emotions attached to it. I really enjoyed that set.

B: That’s beautiful. Would you say that probably tops them all?

M: It’s the most memorable, monumental moment out of all of my sets. I find they’re all really rewarding, but to me, Revs is always my home. I have made so many friends and it’s like the beginning for where I sprung my love for the underground scene.

B: Yeah, a lot of my close friends now, we met just floating around on the dancefloor on a Sunday.

M:  Yeah, me too!

B: Techno is undoubtedly a favourite genre here and you’ve played many different events and parties around the city. As someone who describes herself as a kaleidoscope of colourful characters and costumes, how have you found these sub-cultures differing around the city?

M: Well in the city, it’s a mix between all the different cultures because it’s in the middle. And you have southside crowd or northside crowd and they’re quite specific.

Depending on the different clubs, different nights, it’s always a different crowd. You don’t really know who it is – because there’s so many I feel like growing up when I was young, my outfits were my armour. I could feel pretty insecure when I go out so just having that expresses how I feel, is my armour and still is to this day. I still express myself through what I wear and how I look, and you know, just being me.

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