Will Marsh thought he was done playing music.
After a trio of label-affiliated releases, and a standout 2020 EP entitled “Ammunition,” the creative force behind indie rock band Gold Connections moved from Richmond to New Orleans to pursue an M.F.A. in creative writing at the University of New Orleans. He left in the summer of 2021, arrived in the part-rural, part-urban Upper 9th Ward and found himself reeling from the change of scenery.
“It felt like I had no memory,” he says. “I was suddenly in this completely new city in a different part of the country where — I have some family here that I’ve reconnected with, but other than that, I didn’t know anybody.”
That feeling inspired him to pick his songwriting pen back up and compose “Around Your Eye,” in which allusions to homesickness, destruction, disorientation and devotion swirl around one another. It’s impressionistic and evocative — exactly the kind of writing that’s made Gold Connections’ music so rewarding all along.
Perhaps most thrilling is that the song’s sound isn’t yet set in stone. Marsh has made his self-recorded demo of “Around Your Eye” the centerpiece of an Indiegogo campaign aimed at raising the funds he needs to record his next album, which will be called “Fortune.” While we await the finished product, the work-in-progress version of “Around Your Eye” provides a window into Marsh’s approach to building out arrangements and preparing for studio sessions.
Style: What made you choose “Around Your Eye” for the Indiegogo campaign?
Will Marsh: For one thing, it’s the most advanced demo that I have. It just sounds the best, so there’s a practical reason for that. But also it’s a song that I wrote last spring, when I was living in this new neighborhood in New Orleans, working full-time [for] AmeriCorps and full-time grad school. I was in a totally wild new city, and I didn’t think I was doing music anymore… And so that song is about this sense of wonder. Not despair, but feeling in a different world. That’s the message I’m sending home. It’s like a postcard.
What drew you to the hurricane as a symbol?
My neighborhood where I lived all last year — [it] felt like I was on the edge of the world, or on the edge of history, or like the edge of reality and time. It’s very in between here and heaven, kind of. That’s how it felt to me. So I think the idea of being in the eye of a hurricane is like that — these moments of brilliance and light in the midst of darkness and chaos.
I don’t know exactly who the “you” is in the song. I have some ideas about it, but it just came to me. It can read as a love song — between lovers, like, “I’m bringing you down.” Or, “I’m going to be the chaotic one in the relationship.” But after I wrote it and recorded it, I had an Al Green moment, where it’s like, “Maybe this is actually a religious song, and it’s to God.” This sort of, “I’m down here. I’m this hurricane, and this is what life is.”
How did the demo for “Around Your Eye” start taking shape?
I was first of all using voice memos… Figuring out the song by making voice memos and listening back and tweaking it. But I actually recorded the full demo in Charlottesville over the summer. I was going home [and] my parents were out of town. They were in New York for the summer, so I actually planned a little writing and recording retreat back to Charlottesville and recorded the demo in my parents’ basement, which is a place where I grew up. I learned how to record in that basement. I got a four-track recorder when I was 13 and started doing it there.
What do you use to record demos these days?
I use [digital audio workstation] Logic, and this one microphone that goes through a really small interface called the M-Audio Fast Track. I use the same mic to mic my amp and sing into and [to] mic my acoustic guitar, and then sometimes I’ll use synths and stuff that are all presets on Logic. I kind of pride myself on the simplicity of that setup. It works using one mic for everything, and I don’t even really think about where I put [the microphone] on the amp.
Do you ever get attached to demos? I know “demo-itis” is something musicians sometimes struggle with.
I totally get that, and that can be a fear that comes up. I don’t look back at any of my recorded songs and think, “Man, we should have released the demo.” But that’s totally a feeling that I have, that I experience sometimes going into a studio… I think a lot of that fear is anxiety, in terms of sharing your creativity with other people, and that’s something that you have to get over if you want to be in a band, or if you want to make music in a professional way, because music is a collaboration. Even if you’re writing the songs, or doing most of the songwriting, [when] you’re in a studio and you’re demoing, or with other people doing pre-production, everyone is bringing their ideas, and it behooves you to incorporate everyone into it.
How is the Indiegogo campaign going so far?
Pretty good. We hit a quarter-way of our goal so far. Our goal is $12,000 and we got $3,000. I’m really happy with the amount of people who are pre-ordering the album and t-shirts, and even postcards. It’s $5 to get a postcard from us with handwritten lyrics to “Around Your Eyes.” And pretty pumped about the support from our listenership, or people we know from the road, or friends. We have a lot more money to raise in order to meet our budget goal, so time is definitely ticking, but I’m happy with where we are now for sure.
To hear the demo version of “Around Your Eye,” and to contribute to the “Fortune” Indiegogo campaign, visit indiegogo.com/projects/fortune–3.