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Jon Marsh On Singing With Bent, Tony Blair and Dealing with Drugs

Author: Jonty Adderley
Saturday, February 15, 2003
"If I was in a position to do anything about drugs I would emphasise that cocaine and heroin are the drugs that are really dangerous. It's also bullshit to say there are no side effects of other drugs, including cannabis; I know people who smoke dope every day and I would definitely say their smoking has impacted on their lives. They've stood still in a kind of fog, for too many years."

Articulate, thoughtful and highly opinionated, Beloved mainman and renowned house DJ Jon Marsh is an individual who makes up his own minds on issues whether that's drugs, politics or the health of house music today. Throughout a 15 year career that's embraced first pop fame with The Beloved followed by a distinguished DJing career that's now taken him to a residency at Fabric, he's always maintained his own position, even on politicians like Tony Blair.

"I quite admire the fact he's being so stubborn about Iraq because I believe he feels he hasn't got any option," Jon told Skrufff's Jonty Adderley this week.

"I'm very disillusioned with Blair as a domestic Prime Minister but I don't think he as much choice, internationally."

Yet while his views on heroin, cocaine and backing George Bush sit unusually closely with New Labour politicians on the subject of ecstasy he's way off message.

"I once tried to talk to my Mum about ecstasy once, telling her, 'I went to this place, did this drug, heard this music then suddenly I knew what to do', said Jon.

"It sounds ridiculous now but that's why I became so evangelical about it because it seemed like ecstasy had literally sorted out my entire life. And it really did!"

Given New York's current zero tolerance crackdown in E, it's ironic that Jon specifically flew to the former party city to sample his first pill back in 1987, though nowadays the likes of Mixmag editor Viv Craske claim £1 pills are "as common as beer" (Sunday Times). Though drug matters aside, what remains his first love is music, the reason for today's chat. Specifically, his new collaboration with Bent, an achingly haunting ballad called Beautiful Otherness that's the standout track on their new album Everlasting Blink.

Skrufff (Jonty Adderley): How did you get involved in adding vocals to the Bent album-

Jon Marsh: "Their manager is an old friend of mine, and he suggested the project and sent me some demos. The striking thing about Bent is that they're incredibly productive, I've got CDs full of rough tracks they've done since before their first album (in 1999). I think they get easily bored and move on all the time. We went into a studio for a day in London and created the song from scratch. They knocked up the backing track in 6 hours, I took it back to my own studio, sang on it the next day then sent it back. I never actually got to sing it in front of them, which was a little weird."

Skrufff: How different was it working with them as opposed to for yourself-

Jon Marsh: "Having worked on a batch of my own tunes that I still haven't finished to my own satisfaction, the idea of just writing and singing a vocal for someone else was very appealing. It's extraordinary how much easier that is, compared to doing it for yourself. It's been brilliant for me to realise that you can make a record like that because I've spent such a large part of my career being obsessed with perfect techniques and really good studios and actually you can lose sight of the key factor which is 'does it having something special or not-' If it has, then don't fuck around with it."

Skrufff: Is the Beloved still an ongoing concern-

Jon Marsh: "Well yes, in as much as it's never been officially disbanded but at the same time the longer the gap grows between releasing records the further The Beloved recedes. It's not that I don't want to put records out but the issue is about whether I paint myself into a corner by using that name because everything will be referred back. When we released our last Beloved alb