Morinville – In jeans, t-shirt, and a backwards ball cap, Iain Marsh looks just like many other 21 year olds in the community. His sartorial choices would give one the notion the young man listens to a lot of rap. But while Marsh is getting a reputation in and out of the community for spitting out some smooth rhymes as a rapper, his actual musical tastes are a lot heavier.
“I’m actually a metal head,” Marsh said of his musical preferences, adding his life has included a love of many genres. “I grew up on Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Pantara, Megadeth, Cannibal Corpse, Slayer, Van Halen, The Beatles. Those were the original roots.”
The rapper still listens to a lot of Pink Floyd and a lot of metal. But despite writing and performing rap, only a few rappers, including Eminem, Classified and Tech N9ne, are on his listening radar.
Marsh said he was urged to try his hand at writing and performing rap by a friend about four years ago. “When I wrote it down and actually tried to do some good raps, people liked it,” Marsh said, adding the performing wasn’t easy at first. “When I first started, I was horrible – absolutely horrible.”
But perseverance, combined with natural timing and rhythm have allowed him to develop a style that is on beat each time when he performs.
It’s the words that matter most
While natural timing and rhythm allow him to perform successfully as a rapper, it is the words that matter most to Marsh. His love of the written word can be traced back to his school days when he wrote poems and short stories.
“My first poem was published in the newspaper when I was in Grade 7,” he said. “It was very interesting. It’s describing a picture in the bank. Everything’s grey except for that picture, and as you look into that picture, it twirls. It ends up going to this alternative reality that explains a duel ego. It’s called The Two Doors.”
Although his earlier work was a little psychedelic in its imagery, Marsh largely writes about his life these days. His writing, like that of many writers, acts as a form of self-examination and therapy.
“I write about my life and if I’ve been through all this stuff, I just write how I feel,” he said “I put it on paper. I figure it out. When I decide to sit down and write something and express how I feel, I want to express through my music. I can relate to people who have been there and kind of help them understand. Even at dark times when I’m writing, and when I’m in a dark place with all this stuff going on, I write it down and I still manage to maintain positivity and keep momentum.”
Finding and then writing out that meaning has helped Marsh through some rough times, even keeping him from suicidal thoughts during the darkest periods of his life a few years ago.
“Music saved my life,” he said of the time. “I was very depressed there for a while. For me, it’s the writing it down. That was my only doorway. It’s much more positive for me. I get it out and I can also put it in a form that I can also help other people.”
Looking to push his career forward
Marsh recently helped others by performing at the Morinville Farmers’ Market’s Street Performer’s Festival, a fundraising event for the library. He has a show at Higher Grounds later this fall. However, the Morinville rapper said there is starting to be some interest from the Edmonton rap scene. He has a couple tentative shows lined up for August and September.
He’s come a long way in four years and recalls when some in the community had their doubts.
“A lot of people didn’t think I could do rap, get into it,” he said, adding the perception began to change after he got more into it. “Everyone always kept telling me it was good, so I kept going.”
Currently working as a porter at a local bar, Marsh is hoping to soon be able to earn a living with his rap.
ABOVE: Iain Marsh performs an original rap song at the Morinville Farmers’ Market in this file photo. – Morinville News Photo