Sonic storyteller and Electronic Music Production & Performance Bachelor student Marcelo Mantilla, aka Ponder Mars, gives us a window into his creative philosophy and how he has developed as an artist since joining Catalyst. Photography by our recent intern: designer, photographer and filmmaker Aurélie Nydegger.
I am subject to feelings. For example, when I was creating my song, ‘The Boy in the Forest’ (yet to be released), I liked the idea of a boy waking up in the middle of the forest and bringing order to the chaos. I imagined this kind of forest where you can hear voices, birds, owls, water, wind and this melody that carries the whole context of the environment forward and I realised that I was creating a story.
Day by day this project unfolds
A story so bold, yet a story untold
Of a boy, who so curious,
Got lost in his wander
And in observing his thoughts
Became lost in his ponder.
I really wanted to create a story about a boy who has his head in the clouds, wakes up in the forest, something happens, then there are some relationships, then he runs into something, kind of like in the song, and I thought I just wanted to start somewhere with the simple base: Where am I? And if something happens, then the song unfolds with a climax inside. It's really up to me to figure out what it is and then I like this idea that people make their own stories out of my music. That's what makes me happy, that's what I create in my albums. The song ends up coming out in a feeling. It's your job as an artist to represent that feeling as honestly as possible. What is a feeling?
"I love sharing and playing my music to people. Every time it's something special, everyone imagines different stories"
I love sharing and playing my music to people. Every time it's something special, everyone imagines different stories and shares them. When Aurélie told me that my music reminds her of Miyazaki movies, for example, it's so cool to see if I can really spark the imagination and literally create inspiration for people. That makes me really happy. I create the base line and the context to help people imagine. Okay, it's a boy in the forest. Then it's up to you. You can create a context for them and yeah, I like to inspire people by doing that.
Everything I've learned as an artist I can apply as a musician; I can make amazing music and educate myself. It's also the opportunity to gain experience in programming and bring my programming to the music. It's an experience I could never have had without this school. I'm just a good musician at a lot of things, so after that I'm just going to feed myself a lot of inspiration and understand what I'm really putting together in my music. I think it will come together to create a more complex artistic expression, where I can just stick to the music.
"Thanks to this school, I took the time to develop my expression and therefore my personality.... Catalyst gave me a lot of space to discover through my artistic expression who I am."
I joined Catalyst when it was called dBs Berlin. I had a choice between business school and music. I wanted to go to music college and I looked around, all the colleges in America and Canada were very expensive. I came across Catalyst, which was pretty affordable and complete in terms of what I was looking for. Thanks to this school, I took the time to develop my expression and therefore my personality. I think a lot of people who are in the music business and programming have discovered who they are with time and the right environment. Catalyst gave me a lot of space to discover through my artistic expression who I am. Through my artistic expression I have become a rather complex, but positive and optimistic individual. I have discovered interesting things, and I feel much better prepared to face my life.