Women In Music: Bri Marsh

Bri Marsh is the vocalist of Future Static. If you were at Unify Gathering 2018, you might remember Bri as the amazing singer that helped Belle Haven out with their acoustic Paramore cover on the Sunday morning. Or maybe you’ve seen Bri at gigs, easily recognisable with her tall stature and vibrantly coloured hair. Regardless, Bri is a firm fixture of the local music scene in Melbourne, whether she is supporting others or creating her own pieces with Future Static.

Bri’s love for music began early in life, encouraged by her parents and her upbringing. She started learning to play the piano when she was around five years old, and sang in the privacy of her bathroom. “It wasn’t until I started moving my singing out of the bathroom (where I somehow believed no one would hear me) to the keys that I found my love for music. Since then I’ve taught myself to play the guitar and ukulele, amongst other things. I basically take any chance to learn something new and run with it. My older brother has played in bands for as long as I can remember, and being around him and that environment has exposed me to every genre of music imaginable. His old death metal bands were my eventual gateway into pop punk and hardcore. I owe him a lot.”

There was no distinct turning point where Bri decided to take her love for music and make something of it. Gradual experiences and experimentation progressively nudged Bri toward her own project. “To be honest, I don’t think I could do anything other than music. But the path I’ve taken to get there has definitely diverted a bit over the years. I was the Musical Theatre kid growing up, and for a very long time, that was going to be my future. I worked hard, and eventually got into a college in California to study Music Theatre. But at the same time that was happening, I was starting to experiment with songwriting. I realised that I wanted to use my voice to sing my own songs, to express myself rather than a character. I turned down California and walked away from theatre as a profession, choosing to go out on a limb and try doing things my own way.”

“I had no plan, all I had was this will to make music.”

It has been the ongoing (and at-times mind boggling to Bri) support from her parents that has kept Bri going on the path to pursue music. “You don’t need me to tell you that the music industry, in any capacity, is not an easy career choice. Sometimes I wonder if my parents ever wished either of their kids would’ve chosen a normal career, for our
own sake. But I know that they’re so proud of everything my brother and I do. They supported the possibility of me leaving the country to pursue this, and continued to do so even when that plan completely changed. I didn’t study, I had no plan, all I had was this will to make music. They’ve encouraged this band since it’s inception. They’re at nearly every show, they wear our merch, they share countless Facebook posts, anything they can do to help us along the way. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank them enough.”

It’s not all been smooth sailing however. Bri shared honestly that the discouraging and negative responses she’s received along the way have unfortunately tended to stick with her. “No matter who you are, or what you try to achieve in life, there will always be people trying to discredit you, put you down, tell you that you’re not good enough to do it or that you don’t belong. There have been so many times in life where friends, colleagues and teachers have tried to tell me that I’ll never make it in music and that I’m not good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough to find success. Lately I’ve noticed a pattern of holding on to those moments, rather than the numerous times people have been nothing but lovely and encouraging. I’m slowly working on remembering the positives and letting the rest fall away, but it’s definitely a hard habit to break.”

“Our hard work and energy on stage was reduced to my choice of top and skirt”

Bri says that none of the negative feedback she’s ever received directly has been due to her being a woman in a male-dominated industry. She seems quietly excited about the future for herself and other female creatives with the growing potential for women that comes along with resolutions to any inequality that exists.

Having said that, Bri recognised a difference in music press handling of her band compared to others. She shared her discomfort in finding a review of a show she was part of where the reviewer focused solely on her appearance instead of the band’s performance, as they had done with the other (all-male) bands involved in the show. “We’d played a show that we were all really happy with, and for a few days we were on top of the world. Then a review appeared. Of the four bands playing that day, we were the only one that had non-male members. Each band had a small write-up of their set, except for ours, which was simply a brief description of the outfit I’d chosen to wear that day. Our hard work and energy on stage was reduced to my choice of top and skirt, all because of what’s between my legs. I got stuck in this paranoid rut, thinking that nothing we did mattered anymore, it was only about how I looked. I never wanted to feel like that about myself, yet one reviewer sent me straight there. I was so anxious that I kept getting sick right before shows. One day, I’d had enough of feeling insecure about my place at shows. I threw on whatever I could find, and tried to convince myself that I didn’t care. That show ended up being one of our best, and I’ve felt much better since.”

Safety at shows is something that Bri is passionate about. While never feeling unsafe as an artist, referring to people she’s met professionally as ‘nothing short of fantastic’, Bri’s tone turns to disgust with audience members who seek to take advantage of the cover of darkness. “I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve been made to feel unsafe or on edge at gigs as a patron. I don’t know what it is about dark, crowded rooms that make people think personal space and respect no longer exist.” Wanting for the Future Static shows to be a place of safety, she shares “If anyone reading this is the sort of person that goes to shows to grab women and say hugely inappropriate things, please don’t bother coming to our shows. Use your time to think about how you treat other people instead.”

“No matter what, there will always be that music.”

No stranger to creative fear, Bri turns to her bandmates, her best friends, to keep her going. “We started this with no expectations. We’d never done anything like this before, we just wanted to start making music. Sometimes all it takes to drown out the voice of doubt is being in a room and jamming. Trying to make a living in this industry is a bit like walking on a knife’s edge, and it can be a very scary thing. The upside to that is no matter what, there will always be that music. Hearing from other people how our music has inspired them or helped them in some way is the best feeling in the world. I would do this forever just to keep feeling like that.”

Having only just recently released their Want EP, Bri shares that her and the members of Future Static are already working on the next release. “I can’t tell you what that’s going to look or sound like yet, we don’t even know that much yet. But I’m so excited to see what comes next.”

Bri considers Tonight Alive‘s Jenna McDougall as an inspiration, and one of the many people in the industry that she looks up to, each for their own reasons. “Seeing the way Jenna is always so unapologetically herself and stands up for her beliefs is a huge inspiration for me. She started at such a young age, has made it this far and shows no signs of slowing down.”

Looking to the future, Bri shares that she’s ‘seriously longinging’ for artists to be seen for more than just their gender. “We’re slowly working our way towards a world where opportunities and validation have nothing to do with what’s between someone’s legs.” She’s also happy to see unacceptable behaviour at shows be called at by artists as well as fans. “Can’t wait for shows to be a safe space for ALL.”

To those who aspire to head down a path of creating music, Bri’s advice is:

“Don’t listen to anyone who says you can’t do it, surround yourself with people who bring you up and encourage you. Take every chance you can, sometimes things won’t work out, but that’s how you learn what will. There’s nothing I can say that doesn’t sound horrendously cliche, but they’re cliches for a reason.”

 

[Image of Future Static/Bri Marsh courtesy of Nat Parham]

Kel Burch

Creator and caretaker of Depth Mag, Kel uses her superpowers of empathy, word-weaving, and feeling everything deeply, to immerse herself in music before returning to reality to write about her experience with it.

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