Independent singer-songwriter Dan Marsh just released his latest single ‘Last Call’ with Record Union. For this track, the London-based creative drew inspiration from our Wellness Starter Pack initiative and opened up for a highly personal discussion about mental health. We checked in with Dan to talk about his new release, inspirations, the power of taking charge of his wellbeing, and the pros and cons of being an independent musician.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your music. Who is Dan Marsh?
I’m a singer-songwriter based in London from New York. Dan Marsh is a regular person showing others how flaws can be your strength. I’m not defined by my struggles, but my struggles can be defining moments to share.
What brought you to London all the way from New York?
In my early years, I received some great advice from the A&R team at a record label I had a meeting with. I was told about the open reception for eclectic artistry in the UK. And that it may be a good place to build a true fanbase. I always see the glass half full. So I took that as the high point of the meeting. Sometimes our greatest blessings are in the details but are overlooked by our expectations. So that’s when my work began. I started building my network in the UK and Europe. I still have some of those relationships now.
When and how did you fall in love with music?
When I heard Anita Baker sing ‘I Apologize’ for the first time. She has the most beautifully original voice I’ve ever heard. Her tone and delivery are masterful. I compare her voice to the saxophone, my favorite instrument. Her voice moves your soul in a whimsical way.
You have released your new single ‘Last Call’ with Record Union, and we are so happy to have you on board. What inspired this song?
Yes! And I can’t thank you all enough. ‘Last Call’ is a song dealing with suicidal thoughts and actions. I’ve lost a friend as a teen to suicide. And I’ve had two attempts myself. Once when I was 13, and later at 24 when I was homeless.
For years I didn’t know my past trauma and basis of life were triggers. I didn’t know much about mental illness. I only knew my mother had a mental illness. It wasn’t until I got help after my attempt at 24 that I was diagnosed with manic depression and bipolar disorder.
Through therapy and support from many people over the years, I’ve been able to find a healthy relationship with my mental health. The Wellness Starter Pack has been an amazing tool during these times. My most important part is the journal. I write down everything I’m grateful for, the things I love about myself. I write only the best part of my life. I’ve lived through enough bad times and have no need for them in my mind, heart, and life.
You released your new single at the end of Mental Health Awareness Month, but this conversation lives on. It’s a conversation we should be having every single day. What is your hope for ‘Last Call’?
You’re right! These efforts have to continue past this month of awareness. As I’m learning to be more transparent as an artist, I wanted to share a fully self-made song. To push against having the stresses to produce perfection in the music industry. I don’t want to shy away from real issues. And suicide isn’t a subject artist like to talk about.
I remember times when a friend could do nothing but give a hug. But the hug wouldn’t help. When my therapy group would listen to pains, but the pain didn’t go away. I hope that those who need this know that I understand and I was there too.
And to give understanding for those who don’t know what others feel and think in those low times.
A lot of your songs talk about self-worth and mental health. What inspires you the most?
Having a parent with a mental illness is a life lesson in itself. Mental health in my family was something that most of my elders knew almost nothing about. So in my life, I knew I had to make a change or I had a perfect example of where my life could head.
So my stories are created as the lessons I taught myself. The pain was the inspiration for many years. But I just see life as a canvas. I paint with my words and sounds. Allowing love to be a healthier form of inspiration.
What has your experience been with mental health in music?
Well, my problem has been that there’s been no connection between the two until now. As an artist, you hear “People only care about the finished product” and things like that. There’s been no real consideration for the creatives. And the focus of the music business is focused on the consumption of our art.
You were such a huge supporter of The Wellness Starter Pack.
Totally! Record Union has created an amazing tool for not only creatives, but anyone. With factual information and guides to building a healthier relationship with yourself. The Wellness Starter Pack is a true blessing to so many.
How are you making sure that you’re taking extra care of yourself during the pandemic? Do you have some self-care tips you could share with other musicians?
I practice mindfulness daily. I keep gratitude and love as the cornerstone of my life. Daily walks really help. But if I had any tips to give I would say make time to enjoy your own company, eat healthy, and do outside activities. This is a great time to learn more about yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically.
How do you think the music industry can cooperate to improve mental health for artists?
Mental health issues are triggered by so many things it’s hard to say where the industry should start. But I do believe that there’s got to be more resources for artists to treat and find treatment for mental health.
What do you personally find challenging and rewarding about being an independent artist?
I would say the entrepreneur duties of being a business owner can be challenging, and sometimes mundane. Ownership is the most rewarding part of being an independent artist. Simply because the amount of work you put in is the amount of reward you get out. I also can provide more opportunities for creatives as my business grows.
What’s next for you, what are you working on at the moment?
The songwriter’s job is never done. LOL!
Currently working on more content. A few collaborations with some great London based talent. I’m finishing up a great follow up single to ‘Last Call’ which should be released in June. I’ve got a few summer projects to do back in the US as well with ABT GRLz (a group I’m a part of) and Art Major Fonso out of Buffalo, NY.
What are your plans for the future as an artist? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
5 years… I see myself doing all the things that I’m doing now. Helping other creatives. Creating great music. And being of service to others. Just doing it 10 times bigger!
Dan Marsh spent most of his childhood admiring the sultry sounds of Anita Baker and Marvin Gaye, the electric aesthetic of David Bowie and N.E.R.D, and even the contagious tunes of Phoenix. He saw what they did as poetry set to musical rhythm, and began to set his own verses to their own beats.
He sings stories that tackle the issue of maintaining self-worth and mental health despite the issues we face in life. He’s proven to be a bottomless pit of stories, each time, digging deeper and deeper to bring alive those rock bottom moments that others may shy away from sharing.