Comments and reviews by Catalyst students and alumni
Electronic Music Production & Performance
Felipe Vareschi (EMP student)
"Before coming to Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) I knew absolutely nothing about how music media worked but after this year's music industry classes, I used my assignments in the real world and sent EPKs to some journalists who I enjoy. I didn't expect any answers, but Richard Allen, over at a closer listen, responded and decided to write a review about the EP.
From the music industry classes, I learned how to communicate with music-media properly. In class, we went through a bunch of exercises aimed at trying to communicate our artist identity as fast and as efficiently as possible. Those helped me crystalise the cloud of thoughts around my music into something more concrete and communicable."
Ian Dunham (EMP student / Professional Photographer)
"The most rewarding thing I found here is to start creating my own sounds and music, and to listen to it and see that it’s working. And to bring all of the ideas I had in my head into real life, it’s really special."
Johan Klinkvort, aka Shatter Hands (DJ & producer / EMP alumnus)
"Approaching music more academically — be it discussing, listening, producing, analysing or playing — is perhaps the best thing I took from Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin). It has really expanded my vocabulary a great deal."
Cristian Marras (DJ & producer / EMP alumnus)
"Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) influenced my musical projects on many different levels. There I learnt most of the production and synthesis techniques that I still use today when I’m making music. It gave me the chance to develop and refine my organisational skills, which are fundamental in optimising production time without getting lost amongst files and folders. Catalyst also understands how the music market generally runs today, including the different organs that comprise it – such as record labels, promotion companies and agencies – and how they are structured."
Olli-Pekka Hietto, aka Surma (DJ and producer, MURTUMA collective member / EMP alumnus)
"The environment has without a doubt impacted my progress. Being surrounded by creatives every day of the week gives motivation and perspective and pushes you to improve.
My favourite classes were with Robin Koek and Eliad Wagner. Both geeking out with synthesizers and being thrown into the strange niche of electronic music and sound in general. A lot of it stuck with me and influenced me as an artist."
Lauri Hendunen, aka Rïan (DJ and producer, MURTUMA collective member / EMP alumnus)
"Out of all the tutors, two really stuck with me. Eliad Wagner showed me new ways of looking at creativity and pushed me, especially when I was hesitant. This is something I unfortunately only really began to appreciate after graduating. Cem Oral was simply an incredibly skilled teacher and helped me to understand the importance of the flow and tone of an EP or an album. Also, our collaboration module in the first year really showed me for the first time how great it can be to combine ideas from two or more different minds."
Filip Högberg, aka Antwon Blanc (DJ and producer, MURTUMA collective member / EMP student)
"I think that collaboration in general has inspired me to get better at what I’m doing and to learn new things. I’ve had many opportunities to create together with amazing people at Catalyst. This collective is evidence of that."
Alissa Janine (Singer, songwriter and producer / EMP student)
"It’s just really cool how music students and film students get to collaborate on a project. You introduce an idea and someone makes it even better and develops that into an even greater thing. And I think that’s kind of the art form we’re creating here: collaboration. Just sharing ideas and making those ideas even better."
Tom Reger, aka antilophobia (Music producer / EMP alumnus)
"A lot of the work has been made in the Catalyst facilities and I acquired most of the technical knowledge through the lessons in school. All in all, I drew a lot of inspiration from the school environment. I owe my love of ambient and drone music to this place, since I started to value, and explore, this style of music through the works of my first year classmates and tutors. When I moved to Berlin, I was mainly interested in the darker side of electronic dance music. I still love, and make, this music today, but my musical horizons have been broadened since."
Rowan Edwards, aka Gozi (Pop artist / EMP alumnus)
"The school has contributed enormously to my creative growth. Nothing is better than being able to spend three years on your craft and nothing but that. The person I was when I got here was stumbling around in the dark as to what he thought this project might be, and now I know. That’s amazing. And one of the main things I came to Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) to do was to be able to have the connections to put together a live set and I now have that."
Harry Card (DJ and producer / EMP alumnus)
"Signing up to Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) was one of the best decisions i've made. I was on the fence for a while whether taking a music production degree would be worth its while financially but I'm very glad I did. I was operating in the music industry for a few years from a more business perspective, but needed to express ideas I had bottled up. Firstly having the opportunity to work in studios as respected worldwide as Funkhaus is something I feel truly blessed to enjoy. I have even ended up making a track with a very talented producer on my favourite label. The teaching I have experienced has pushed me to try creative production techniques I would of otherwise not necessarily explored. In addition to this I feel like my knowledge of both production techniques and my contextual understanding of musical movements has vastly improved. I think this is hugely undervalued and will help anyone progress that little bit further. I would say however you need to be in the right mindset to get the most out of what Catalyst has to offer. Attend each class, ask questions and book out your max studio hours otherwise you won't get the most out of it. If you are driven and proactive enough then it can serve you well but that's your decision."
Creative Audio Production & Performance
Nicolas Avila Rodriguez
Catalyst is a great place to make contacts advance in your music/film career and learn from some impressive tutors! With dedication and passion you can learn everything you need if you put the energy on it.
Sasha Dawe (Artist and alumnus)
A great space for learning with amazing networking opportunities with people from all around the world. Top end facilities for film and music production, with a comfortable and stylish kitchen/lounge area which is constantly beaming with life. I love this place.
Rosaline Yuen (Singer, songwriter and producer / CAP alumnus)
"A warm and welcoming creative community! Shout out to my amazing tutors. You get out of it what you are prepared to put into your experience studying there. You have access to professional recording studios, exclusive talks with industry professionals, volunteer opportunities with MONOM, Ableton Loop and People Festival, opportunities to perform live at student parties in great Berlin venues and chances to collaborate with likeminded artists/film-makers from all around the world (it's a really diverse and international school)."
Anita Wenglorz (Music producer / CAP alumnus)
"The best three years of my life. This place is magic! Tutors are always there to help, the school is full of inspiring and supportive people. It helps to understand who you are as an artist/sound engineer. It teaches you how to be systematic, how to work with other artists, how to become a professional. I would say the final outcome of what you've learnt also strongly depends on how much YOU want to learn. If you're willing to spend extra hours in school, ask for more resources, practice, you'll get much more from it. I super strongly recommend!"
Hanna Bratton, aka Breezy (Rapper, singer & producer / CAP alumnus)
"Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) was instrumental (pun absolutely intended) in enabling me to make music. It literally gave me the instruments, the skills, the gear, the tools, and the confidence with music technology that I needed to attempt the hefty endeavour of building an entire music project from scratch. From listening and deconstructing elements of a track, to recreating those elements in a DAW, to proper recording and mixing techniques, I’ve been using everything I learned at Catalyst to create."
Jon Doig (Producer and Kiss Your Ears founder / CAP alumnus)
"Before I moved to Berlin, I was a somewhat dissonant, young, crazy, nomadic fool. I really needed to be accepted into a place where I could grow. I was and still am allergic to establishment, traditionalism, conservatism and all that normally comes with education. Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) provided an environment where I could learn but where I could also be my authentic self. I still study constantly. Catalyst was really just the first big step."
"To those that are considering Catalyst, I could not recommend it more. It is a well equipped, fantastic facility with an extremely capable team of dedicated and caring tutors, technicians and administrative team, all of which are bottomless pools of knowledge and musical wisdom. But, they can teach you the knowledge, not force you to use it. The personal development part is up to you. The bottom line is, the opportunities are legitimately there."
Dominic Santucci (Saints Sound production company / CAP alumnus)
"The school gave us a great please to come and learn and to grow. It was a peer-to-peer mindset and your tutors were cultivating your creativity and letting you take it where you wanted to. But having access and building relationships with people who are working in the professional industry, and have had a lot of success doing things that you want to do. Just having that wealth of knowledge and constant communication with them has been a huge part of us taking our business to the next level and knowing what to expect when we talk with clients. For example, how to present ourselves and even how to build our projects. I think that was a very important thing that Catalyst gave to us.
It’s a community. There isn’t a hierarchy. It’s really interesting and it creates a lot of opportunity. Then that work you have from the school reaches out to all over the world. There’s so many people from different countries here, and people that are also centralised. It’s just amazing to experience."
Rocco Santucci (Saints Sound production company / CAP alumnus )
"We still use the advice of teachers, teachers and students as session musicians, connections, the facilities. We have so many friends here. It’s a whole world here – especially the changeover from the American education system to European. You feel much more at home and less judged."
Saebrinde Clayton (CAP student)
"The amount of opportunities, connections and community that you build just by walking through the doors all falls together really seamlessly. I’ve been provided from the get-go with a lot of tools and resources. I know exactly where and what I can do to use them. I want to keep increasing that and seeing all the doors that are opening for me."
Doroteja Kravcenkaite (Artist / CAP student)
"The vision of the school is really reflected by the people here, and by their attitude towards each other and their tutors – and the tutors’ attitude towards us. Everyone is on the same level, and that can be very inviting and calming, and it just feels like home. It feels like a home away from home, which is a great thing to have."
Barak Shem-Tov (Music producer, sound engineer and Disgusting Beauty band member / CAP alumnus)
"The classes in the first year of the degree were essential for this production. I came to school with a very limited knowledge of studio recording techniques and mixing. I used to produce almost exclusively experimental electronic music, techno, and hip hop. At Catalyst I learnt how to record an entire band.
And also, funny story, I actually originally met Disgusting Beauty for a school project. I was looking for a band to record for one of the assignments, and somehow I got to meet the guys and offered to record them. Soon enough we fell in love with one another and they asked me to join the band as a guitar and synth player, and to produce the record."
Marco Dray (DJ, producer and sound engineer / CAP student)
"I’ve learnt to think from very different perspectives. I went deep into a lot of subjects that I had no clue about before. Also, I’ve been inspired by the people around me. The students, the teachers and staff are all super friendly and welcoming. They have a lot of knowledge to share and if you’re curious enough, if you’re proactive, you can absorb all of that easily.
I met a guy who was studying at Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) last year. We ended up vibing with the same music and now we’re doing events together, we created a brand and we’re DJing together. I'm also collaborating with a lot of other artists here with completely different musical genres. So I’m learning a lot, and I’m also growing as a human, not just as an artist. I think all in all it’s super good and I’m loving the experience."
George Baird (Music producer and sound engineer / CAP alumnus)
"You learn something every day. You learn that you’re wrong every day… you have to learn to get rid of your own preconceptions about people and about genres of music."
Emma Nyden (Music producer and sound engineer / CAP student)
"First I started EMP, which was to more evolve your own artistry, but then I realised on the way that I was more interested in being in big studios and recording. Recording other people and learning more about acoustics and stuff like that, while also evolving my own artistry.
I love having access to all of these studios and the gear, and all the people you meet. I’m in a band with two other people that I met at the school and it’s going really well. So it’s been really fun. What I love the most is that you have a lot of opportunities, if you want them, if you really just throw yourself in and say yes to a lot of stuff."
Maya de Mello (Music producer and sound engineer / CAP alumna)
"At the end of all of this you’ve created something and put it out into the world. That’s the most rewarding thing that you could ever have."
Stefan Greve (Music producer and sound engineer / CAP student)
"Going to the feedback sessions really helps. You go there and people are not there to judge you, which for me was an eye-opening moment. Here, you show people your tracks and they objectively criticise them. Not because they want to harm you, but because they want to help you. It’s just so important. It’s helped me a lot. The school has really opened me up to trying new things and doing whatever comes up in music, like different genres."
Creative Production M.A
Pablo Diserens, aka Ōtone (Music producer / Creative Production MA & EMP alumnus)
"Great space, resources and heartwarming people! The team and the tutors are extremely supportive and all have diverse musical backgrounds. There's a nice sense of community between students. Both the EMP BA and the Creative Production MA are stimulating courses filled with things to learn: creative techniques, history, collaborative work, project elaboration, etc. - but most importantly it is what you do (and want to do) with the resources that are given to you that makes each studying experience unique. Do not expect to be constantly pulled by the hand - this is a space where students have a certain autonomy and can explore their individual creative desires and ideas. You're in charge!"
Catalyst Film & VFX
Adam Munnings (Filmmaker and Film Production alumnus)
Studying here was nothing short of amazing and to throw all of my talents and passions into one medium was magical. Going back to school at 28 seemed a little daunting but it’s never too late when it comes to new chapters.
Brenda Young (Filmmaker and Film Production alumnus)
Programme with great value! I signed up for dBs Film certificate last year and I can honestly say this is a great programme for people that want to get a jumpstart on film-making. Before I came to (formerly dBs Berlin), I had little to none technical knowledge about film-making and I didn’t know where to start on my own. I didn’t know where I could assemble a crew to film a passion project and I didn't know where I could source film equipment. (formerly dBs Berlin) created a space for me to hone my craft and provided feedback for every project I made . The tutors are open to new suggestions and they are dedicated in helping you improve. If you sign up for this course, make sure you use the resources offered, ask the tutor for advice, assemble a crew amongst your peers and make films! My year at (formerly dBs Berlin) was insightful and nothing short of phenomenal.
Jayden Bailey (Filmmaker and Film Production B.A student)
Film student here: Amazing tutors, admin stuff great people. Super hands on workshops and learn by doing film making, has led to amazing experiences with classmates. Highly recommend. PS amazing location and facilities
Andrea Riba (Director and Film Production alumnus)
From a film student perspective, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Catalyst (Formerly dBs Berlin). I took the 1 year diploma course with plans to expand my portfolio and apply for a Masters in Fine Arts degree at NYU, USC, and Loyola in the US - I ended up being accepted into all 3. By taking advantage of the resources and the extremely helpful tutors (booking equipment during my free time, meeting tutors privately for script feedback, etc), I was aided in creating a handful of valuable short films in such a short time span. The cohort has extremely hard working people, those interested in collaborating and sharing ideas in a non-competitive space. My latest film, 'Generation Z', has just been accepted into Indie Short Fest in LA, and I thank Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) for the resources, feedback, as well as my hardworking crew for helping me with this amazing experience. Highly recommend!
Filippos Papazoglou (Director and Film Production alumnus)
As a Film student I felt embraced and motivated to work with people who trusted and respected me. I aslo had the opportunity to meet new people and to practice my biggest love, which is of course nothing else than film making. After one year,I felt one step closer to my dream, I felt more secure with my self, my art and my craft. Most Importantly though, As a person, I was in a very friendly environment with teachers willing to help you, to listen to you and to always guide you. Dbs was a safe zone for everyone, and still is a place were you can evolve and fight for your passions, with the most gorgeous people. Thank you ^_^
Christos Doulgerakis (Filmmaker and Film Production alumnus)
"When it comes to technical aspects, I wanted to be more experienced in camera and sound. What we learnt throughout the year at dBs is really helping me to give instructions to the crew, and also to apply them myself."
Masih Tajzai (Director and Film Production student)
"Studying at dBs really opened my eyes and broadened my perspective. I have learnt, and am learning, a lot from my tutors in different areas of filmmaking. From theory to practical and about the film business itself, it’s the full package. We explore everything from commercials to music video clips, documentary films to web series, short films to feature films. We learn how to write, produce, direct, film, edit and distribute.
At the end of the day, I have learnt so many things that I can now take bigger creative steps. The school has students from more than 50 countries, so I can also learn from different people and cultures at the same time.
I have learnt how to write a script, I have learnt how to produce a film, I have learnt how to edit, and also how to distribute a film – how to push my film to producers and production companies."
Sheona Mateos (Film Production student)
"It’s nice to find out how good I was at certain things – specifically, what I wanted to do in film. You discover things about yourself, like ‘hey I’m actually good at this, who knew that I was good at giving orders to people?’... I never knew that I could be that person."
Marlee Weinberg (Visual Effects student and dancer)
"Our tutors have really pushed us to advance our skills and techniques, as well as encourage us to forge the pathway we think best suits our desires as artists."
Savina Janssen (Visual Effects student)
I am very blessed to be a student at Catalyst. This school has helped me to grow so much for the past 6 months.
I’ve learned many things from really good and diverse teachers who were always there to help me whenever I couldn’t understand something.
Moreover I am pleasantly surprised by all the different courses that we have this year. As a VFX student I was expecting spending most of my time behind computers but the diversity of the VFX program is beyond what I expected and I am happy about that.
In addition to that, I really enjoy the guest sessions that the VFX Program offers. It gives us the opportunity to exchange with artists and have an outlook about what kind of career we are looking for.
Leander Blaschke (Visual Effects student and creative practitioner)
About his 2nd year final project: This experience was one of the most exhausting and challenging but first and foremost creatively and emotionally fulfilling projects I've ever worked on. I not only learned so much about efficiency, patience, software and of course working with people and their feedback I also was able to professionally dive into a field that I as an artist as well as a consumer genuinely love and enjoy since I was a child.
All the knowledge about myself and the pipeline I was able to gather makes me very confident going forward on the path as a creative person. And in the end, seeing people's enjoyment playing this small demo I made, made all the work worth it. I really want to keep on working on this project in the future and integrate the feedback I got so I can maybe properly launch it as a game at some point.
Giulio Brizzi (Actor in Netflix series Curon / Screen Acting Certificate alumnus)
"At Catalyst you have everything you need to create. There are tons of experienced artists who provide you with their help around the clock. There are endless opportunities to collaborate with like-minded people, including film and music production students. All of this allows you to form friendships and professional connections that will stand the test of time."
You can read an entire guest blog written by Giulio about his experience at Catalyst here.
Benjamin Bishop (Theatre actor, teacher and scriptwriter / Screen Acting alumnus)
"I wasn’t sure what to expect because I was a bit older than the other students. I came and I got on with everyone really well. I was super nervous but then I started really liking it. It’s been super fun.
I made a lot of contacts through school, like Adam Donald. He introduced me to some theatre people and I did a show, whilst I was still at school. Then from that I met some of the people that I work for now at the theatre company.
Everyone is at dBs for the same kind of reasons; they want to learn about film or acting. So with all of those people around, there’s always someone wanting to do something or try something new."
Shanice Trustfull (Screen Acting student)
"You always feel challenged to directly open up yourself… I’m proud of myself. I’m more happy and confident and I feel more like an artist."
Julie Kjær (Screen Acting student)
"I love that we're treated like we are already working in the industry. I think that aspect of the school is one of the most important parts because you learn the hard way what needs to be done and what you can expect when stepping out of the Funkhaus with a degree in your hand. I feel like at the end of the third year I'm going to be fully prepared and ready to take on the industry."
Students share more about their experience while studying at Catalyst in these videos