In March last year, modern day ‘brit pop’ band, White Canvas, stated that “the Brighton music scene is dead”.
With the closure of popular music venues such as Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar some might agree.
A genre which certainly is flourishing however is garage. Hundreds will flock to venues such as Patterns and The Arch week in week out to rave away their problems to the sound of garage.
One artist who is making waves in the industry is Alex Marsh or ‘Goodger’ as he is known to his friends.
Fresh from his hugely popular song, ‘I Can’t Breathe’, which was played on Toddla T’s Radio 1 Soundsystem, I sat down with the man himself to look into his journey into the music industry and why Brighton is such a brilliant place for budding musicians to hone their skills.
We meet on a typically busy Saturday afternoon in Brighton sat in the corner of a Caffe Nero on Bond Street. Goodger dodges past a crying baby on his way to the table, body popping like one of the many people who attend his sets.
He oozes cool without trying too hard, clad in a purple top with one button done up sporting a messy collar that looks like he could have just rolled out of bed. Clearly a fan of jewellery, he has two rings on and a chain, which he tells me he bought at St Nicholas Market in Bristol.
The city is like a second home to him spending three wonderful years there studying Music Production. It will never be Brighton however, where it all began 22 years ago in Poets’ Corner.
Goodger credits his earliest musical influences to his dad. Boasting a “massive” vinyl collection, he remembers hearing his dad playing album after album, first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
“I’ve always been around music thanks to my dad, I guess. He’s obsessed with music as well,” says Goodger.
This obsession led to a need to try it himself. Like a footballer getting their first pair of boots, he first strummed a guitar at the age of eight. It was a match made in heaven.
Secondary school is a time of growth as children develop the skills and passions that will characterize their lives. Goodger’s was no different with his time at Blatchington Mill School in Hove being a fruitful experience. He wasted no time in getting involved with the musical opportunities on offer and thanks to a gig held at Concorde 2, he even became a record breaker.
“That was the biggest gig I’d done and it was at Concorde main stage. I think…for a while at least I was the youngest person to play on Concorde stage at 11 which was pretty mad!” says Goodger.
The feeling of being on stage was an instant rush for Goodger. He didn’t want to be the next Liam Gallagher and certainly didn’t want to be seen as a rock star, but it was a feeling he wanted to experience again and again.
“It’s addictive,” he said. “You do it and that feeling…there’s something about it. To put work in to make a creative thing or body of audio and then showing it to other people and getting, I guess like, assurance from them. It’s definitely an addictive feeling.”
After dabbling in the singer-songwriter field in the latter years of his time at Blatch, Goodger’s love of partying led him to his next big challenge.
“I got into dance music. Got myself a Logic (a music producing software) and started messing around with that.”
After a year at Brighton and Hove Sixth Form School (BHASVIC) Goodger quickly realised that music was more than something he wanted to dabble in. In his truly laid-back fashion, he thought at that point that it was something he wanted to pursue “slightly seriously”.
“I did two years at City College doing Performance and Production and smashed that. Got a Distinction at the end of that. Then went on from there to BIMM…dabbled with rap, producing and now garage,” says Goodger.
Experimentation has been a key theme of Goodger’s fledgling career. He has tried many things in a bid to find his one true calling. This is no more evident than a recent track released called ‘Mum’s Old Bike’. A UK Grime/Rap track which focuses on 20 somethings struggling with the anxiety and stress that life can bring.
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I’ve just released a new piece of music that’s pretty important to me (and very different to my previous singles). ‘Mum’s Old Bike’ is a UKG / Rap track about 20 something struggles and the anxieties and stresses around life in general. It’s available to buy on Bandcamp and every penny it makes I will donate to ‘Off the Record’ (@otrbristol)- a young persons mental health charity based in Bristol. ❤️ Been nervous about putting this one out as bars aren’t my strongest area, but given the nature of this project I wanted to make something genuine. Putting this kind of style out will be a one off. It’s available to buy for £1, but you have the option to pay as much as you want, so feel free to spend big! Orrrr if the track isn’t your cup of tea you can donate straight to OTR via their website! Buy/Stream link in my bio. Shout out to @elstuuff on the artwork over on SC & BC! @otrfriends
This versatility has allowed him to chop and change between genres whenever he sees fit. It has been a feature of his career and has only been possible due to his willingness to try new things.
Goodger becomes Badger
BIMM brought a new city and new opportunities into Goodger’s life. With that came a name change as he looked to distance himself from the name Marsh – his Drum N’ Bass persona. Badger represented a more professional stance in the industry, and it is a name he has stuck with ever since. Armed with a new name and a new approach to his work, Badger was ready to take on Bristol.
“I guess to grow really as a musician, a producer, a composer. To move away from home and gain full independence. Do things on my own terms and to build a brand as a musician”. he recalls talking about his ambitions when moving to Bristol.
It can be a scary time for many moving away from home but Goodger took it in his stride, embracing the change and allowing it to advance his career as a whole. It was the first time he saw music as a career for the future and this fuelled him with the drive to succeed.
“(I wanted to) start developing as an artist and start beginning a career. Something that I could do and live off for life. I was like ‘Let’s take this seriously now let’s go at it,” he says.
After an enjoyable time at BIMM Badger got his big break. Released on the 26th July 2019 The Other Side ft. Mollie Smart went soaring up the Beatport charts and brought Badger into the zeitgeist of the Garage genre. It crucially gave Goodger a sense of accomplishment and a feeling that success would be coming his way.
“Fourteen months on and off it was hard, hard work. But that was probably the first time I’ve played a tune back and I was like ‘Woah, I’ve actually done something there!’. That’s good, That’s a lot better than anything I’ve done before,” he remembers fondly.
It was a light bulb moment for Goodger in terms of which genre he would be pursuing in the future. He knew after the release of ‘The Other Side’ that Garage was a genre he enjoyed producing but importantly, one that his audience enjoyed as well.
“It was amazing to get all the love,” he says. It did better than I expected as well. The first tune after a complete change as an artist. Some of your friends will listen to it for a few weeks then it’ll disappear…but quite a lot of love from people I hadn’t spoken to or heard from in ages reached out to say ‘this is really good’.”
Importantly, it gave him the desire to produce more tracks. The addictive feeling had returned although rather than in the form of a stage with riffs and chords, he now focused on two step drum beat and swung baselines.
Developing an identity
After graduating from BIMM with a 2:1, Goodger was ready to begin a full-on assault of the music industry. He had found his genre and began working on his net project. What followed was success that he couldn’t even have dreamed of a few years previous
‘I Can’t Breathe’ was produced across a 10-month period. There were complications with Garage Shared opting to to delay its release “until the time was right”. Goodger actually feels that this gave him more freedom with the track and meant he wasn’t as bothered about the result upon its release.
“It had got to the point where like, there’s part of me that doesn’t massively care what happens with this track,” he admits.
Of course, Goodger wanted the track to succeed but by the time Garage Shared were ready to drop, he felt that he had moved into other areas and was no longer fully focused on the project.
“I thought ‘That tunes alright but I’m not sure people will like it or not.’ Let’s bang it out when it feels right. Suddenly, that’s the one that went crazy really. I never would’ve expected Toddla T to pick it up and play it.”
What makes this even more remarkable is that Goodger never approached Toddla T to play the song. Contrary to his belief that you may need to keep pushing to get a song played, he picked it up from the Beatport Garage charts – in which the song rose to Number 14 at its highest point. Clearly, he liked what he heard and just like that, Goodger had made his first appearance on a radio show.
Looking into the future
Despite Goodger’s success which has stemmed from ‘I Can’t Breathe’ he still has that love for playing a live show. So, would he prefer to sell out a venue or get a shout out on air?
“That’s a tough one. I guess playing the shows are more fun. Playing a show to like a packed out 400 person venue I think would be more worth it than a massive Radio 1 DJ playing your tune and giving you recognition,” he concludes after weighing up both sides.
He describes the feeling on stage as being an intimate one which allows him to build a connection with his audiences.
“You see a direct effect. You can play a tune and you see people dance and get their phone out and Snapchat it or that kind of thing. That’s definitely more real,” he adds.
Goodger hopes the two come hand in hand in the future and with the massive response of his last two releases, it is easy to see success coming his way.
After enjoying the New Year festivities by bringing in 2020 on the 12am-1am time slot at Door 77 on East Street, he has gone straight back to work in what will be the most important year of his life so far.
“I have an EP coming out with Garage Shared in February. That’ll be a three track EP of Dance tunes. Then I’ve also got a six track EP coming out with a Swedish label at the end of March.”
This is an important step with the record label Koppar Records providing backing and support to Goodgers career while also allowing him to tap into the unknown market of Scandinavia where he will be supporting a band on tour.
The list of cities for the tour make for an exciting yet gruelling experience including Bristol, Cardiff, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and of course, his beloved Brighton.
“Two weeks after that (the six track EP) I can’t say too much about it yet but I’m supporting a band on a tour through Britain and Sweden,” he adds.
Once again displaying his versatility in the field he will move away from garage and into more personal, experimental music. Why not? After all, he’s a man of many talents and it would not be the first time he’s tried something new.
So what makes Brighton so special?
As I said at the start of this article the Brighton music scene is supposedly dead. Like myself, Goodger also disagrees with this and highlights the flourishing underground scene as an example.
“While there is obviously a lot of chart music night clubs and stuff there is also a more underground and I guess dirty side of things. But then there’s also a lot of band stuff. Yeah I think it’s very good in term of accessing music,” he says.
Opportunities can be afforded to young musicians just like they were to Goodger only a few years ago. With the rise in popularity of venues such as The Green Door Store and Brighton’s home of Jazz, Casablanca, there is no sign of a diminishing music culture.
In his early days, Goodger played at several Brighton venues. Concorde gave him his first opportunity on stage while Patterns was a regular feature in his DJing early days.
Goodger currently works part time at a music college to supplement his income alongside his music which means he is currently based in Bristol. He says that in the short term, it is the perfect job and gives him the time to earn money while focusing on his music production as well.
“I wanna’ keep doing that job for this year then at least one more year. Then I guess hopefully my own music would have taken off enough to the point where I can live off just creating, releasing and DJing. I can definitely see myself coming back to Brighton when I’m a bit older. I can see myself coming back here definitely,” says Goodger.
He also plans to travel the world and the Swedish tour is seen as a taster in what could be a regular feature in Goodger’s life when the next decade ends.
He isn’t stressed however and for now he is living in the moment and enjoying what he is doing. At 22 Goodger is still a young man and looks slightly uncomfortable when I ask him to offer some pearls of wisdom to the younger generation. Despite his youthful appearance however, he is a man who has already done so much in the music industry.
“The first two years in Bristol it was show after show. So many shows and they were almost always for free.
“I’d go to sleep and set an alarm for 1am, get up, play the set for like, nothing, to about 20 or 30 people. It took years of graft and playing for free to hardly anyone. But that’s part of the journey really. If you love it then you’ll do it.” he says passionately.
Like many role models he says that hard work is the key to success whilst risk-taking is also needed to survive in the industry.
“Stay driven, stay focused, don’t stop planning. You’ve just gotta’ go with your gut sometimes. If you’ve got a bit of music you think is a bit risky, that you’re not sure about but know you’ve put your heart and soul into it,” he says.
“Go for it because in the history of music, people that take risks, even if it backfires. The biggest advances in music have been off the back of someone taking a risk. So just do your thing and stay focused.”
That is at the heart of what Goodger is about. A relaxed and jovial man on the outside but a steely determination to succeed on the inside. It may only be the start of his fledgling career, but the Badger is out of hibernation and he is here to stay.
If you’d like to keep up with Badger’s progress you can follow his social media pages here: