26-year-old undergraduate Music Producer and Hip-Hop songwriter. Currently for Cologne Germany. Mark Phillip Horch is this month's ToneGym Hero!
I’m Mark Phillip Horch, but most people call me Marphy. I'm a 26-year-old undergraduate Music Producer, born in the beautiful city of Cologne, Germany. When someone asks me where I’m from, I usually say I'm from the Internet because I've spent more hours online than outside or in the city since middle school.
Currently, I'm studying for a diploma certificate as a Music Producer and plan to continue with a Bachelor of Music Technology (Hons.) degree.
Music has always fascinated and enchanted me, and I've had a strong desire to create music for as long as I can remember.
Apart from middle school music class, my initial attempts at making music were somewhat childish parodies of popular songs when I was eleven years old.
What started as a playful endeavor to make my friends laugh became the fuel that drove my enthusiasm for linguistics, poetry, and ultimately music.
However, the defining moment came when I discovered the JBB, a rap tournament hosted by the German YouTuber JuliensBlog in 2012. This experience solidified my passion for lyricism and songwriting.
Unfortunately, due to a series of unwise choices, I developed addiction problems, which caused me to neglect my friends, family, and music, ultimately leading to unemployment.
This downward spiral resulted in a severe psychosis, where I began to believe that a supernatural being or devil controlled everything I saw and heard.
Every radio or TV channel I switched to, every thought or question in my mind, and even encounters with people on the bus or in the streets seemed like messages from this entity.
In October 2019, following my most intense episode, I voluntarily sought help and was committed to a psychiatric facility with the support of my family.
After four months of medical treatment and regular psychiatrist meetings, my psychosis seemed to be under control, and I returned home. However, since only my psychosis had been treated at that time, I quickly fell back into relapse upon returning home, and within two months, my psychosis returned.
This vicious cycle continued for about eight months before I realized that I couldn't allow it to dictate the rest of my life. I made the decision to apply for long-term therapy.
While waiting for approval and the start of therapy, I rediscovered some of my old lyrics and began writing again. I also attempted to learn music production online before starting therapy, which lasted for six months in the first half of 2022 without access to a computer.
Since completing therapy, I have dedicated most of my time to learning music production, connecting with other producers and artists, and fortunately, I found a private institution in my local area that allowed me to obtain a diploma.
This diploma will enable me to pursue music studies at a university, which would otherwise have been challenging due to my high school qualifications not meeting the requirements.
Since starting my studies in April, a significant portion of my time has been devoted to music-related courses, learning music theory, audio engineering, and mandatory studio sessions. Additionally, I dedicate a significant amount of time to training my ears and improving my musical perception through the numerous practice games available on platforms like ToneGym and SoundGym.
I have a passion for learning new things and expanding my knowledge, and spending time at the computer or browsing the internet allows me to do so effectively. While I'm at the computer, I also like to participate in BeatRaces occasionally, as I keep a tab open in the background.
It serves as a reminder to take breaks from my work, avoid diving too deeply into a single activity, stretch, open a window, and give my mind a chance to reset.
Apart from these activities, I enjoy watching live streams of freestyle rappers and producers and taking part in community contests such as Sampleflips or Beatbattles.
I understand that you asked about activities outside of music work, but except for my study-related tasks, I wouldn't consider any of these activities as "working" on music. Similar to how watching a movie wouldn't be considered work for a cameraman or discussing yesterday's football game wouldn't be work for a sports channel host or commentator.
Of course, I also like to spend time with my friends. We often gather to play games of ping-pong, Texas Hold 'em, or Durak while enjoying barbecues in the garden or by the lake.
I also enjoy going on bike tours since I don't own a car. It allows me to explore different places, ride through forests, or simply enjoy the scenery around the lake. Additionally, I make it a point to have dinner with my grandma every weekend and cherish the time we spend together, appreciating every minute we still have.
That's like asking a mechanic what the most useless tool in their toolbox is. Hahaha.
Every skill or talent has its practical use and a reason for its existence. Even if you acquired a skill in a field that you no longer actively engage with, it can still be valuable to you in a different context, perhaps even for something you haven't heard of or that doesn't exist yet.
During my school years, I spent a lot of time practicing penspinning. While it never really provided me with anything substantial, it did give me a personal fidget spinner that was way cooler and unique, about a decade before they became popular.
Simply put, life itself is my inspiration. The experiences I have and the opportunities that come my way are always a tremendous source of inspiration. However, the most significant muse for me is actually the people I encounter in my life.
I could spend an hour telling you a story about eating a hot dog, but if we were to share that experience together, I could fill bookshelves with the impressions and connections formed during our shared moment.
The same principle applies to working on music with others. When our energies align, there will always be new ideas sparked by someone. Meeting new people means encountering different mindsets and universes, each brimming with infinite potential for new and unique inspirations.
There are so many incredible artists I know, and there are probably many more that I haven't even heard of yet. If I had a full day to name everyone I want to work with, I probably wouldn't even reach half of my list.
Among the artists I would love to work with the most is Nate Dogg. He had a unique way of combining the soulful timber of his voice with gospel-inspired, jazzy, swingful melodies and rhythms that mesmerize me. Listening to his tracks feels like that magical moment when you gaze deep into the eyes of a loved one.
In addition to collaborating on a project with him, I would be fascinated to learn about his workflow and creative process.
Typically, when inspiration strikes and I have the opportunity, I either take notes or immediately dive into my DAW and start working. I don't usually plan these moments of inspiration; they come naturally.
However, when I have a specific task or challenge ahead, such as a mixdown session or a Sampleflip, I have a set routine. I begin by grabbing a coffee and rolling a cigarette.
At the same time, I preview available references, like the sample I want to flip, and plan out my approach and initial steps. I also select a theme or vibe that suits my DAW setup and set a timer to stay focused.
If I can’t start right away at that point, especially when a Sampleflip contest has a synchronized start for everyone, I focus on project organizing and track preparation.
This involves creating colored mixer buses and multiple playlist presets to preemptively manage potential chaos during the contest.
My most recent project was participating in a Sampleflip at a Pinkhairproducer Twitch stream during the first week of April.
It was the third of eight qualifier rounds, and winning against the other participants secured me one of the eight spots in the Sampleflip finale. The finale date has yet to be determined, but I expect it to be around August based on the information I've been given. I will be notified once the date is confirmed.
Since the qualifier, my focus has been primarily on my diploma, as my first semester began shortly after the qualifier, with my first appointment scheduled only four hours later due to the nine-hour time difference between my location and the host's. I have been dedicating a lot of time to studying and working on exercises for my diploma, leaving little time and mental space for longer projects or releases.
Therefore, I consider my diploma to be my current main project, although the content and results of this semester may not be something I would release.
Looking ahead, my second semester will have a more practical orientation, and I anticipate having more material that I can upload and share in the future.
Additionally, I have been involved as an engineer in an upcoming collaboration project by Rhythmical Thinker and SJ. Unfortunately, the release has been delayed due to Rhythmical Thinker's ongoing move.
This question required some contemplation, as I recall being younger and listening to songs that seemed to resonate with what I was experiencing at different times.
However, I never considered a specific song as the theme song of my life. One song, though, seems to periodically resurface and hold meaning for me during certain short time periods
. That song is 'Crazy' by Gnarls Barkley. It feels particularly fitting, not exclusively but especially during my stays in psychiatry.
I absolutely love the saxophone, especially the alto sax. While I'm not a huge jazz fanatic, although I do enjoy it, my usual genres lean towards hip-hop and R&B. However, the saxophone has always been my favorite ever since I first heard it.
The saxophone's distinctive and passionate sound makes me envision it as the world-famous soul diva among all instruments.
The combination of the brass resonance's grittiness with the smooth legato movements of a violin gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it.
I must commend the learning section and the available courses as the material is excellently curated. However, the feature I use the most are the gym games, as ear training is an essential and ongoing process for my work, and I was in dire need of it.
Before I started using ToneGym, my relative pitch was completely untrained, to the point where I sometimes struggled to determine if a 15-semitone interval was played in ascending or descending order.
However, my ultimate favorite feature of ToneGym is the community. There are many interesting spaces to explore, learn, practice together, collaborate, and connect with a multitude of helpful, open-hearted, and awesome members.
In the near future, my focus will be on completing my Diploma and pursuing a Bachelor's degree. While studying, I will have several mandatory projects for my graduation, but I hope to find time to manage other projects and collaborate with others alongside.
I am saving up to invest in studio monitors since I have been using only headphones for mixing so far.
Fortunately, I now have access to equipment and rooms at my campus, but I would prefer to have the convenience of working on mixes in my home studio, which is essentially my desktop PC. Apart from my MIDI controllers and the DAWs on my PC, I don't have any studio-specific aspects like room treatment.
Additionally, I have plans to start streaming and share some of my production work with others. Perhaps one day, I can organize community sample flips and other events myself.
However, finding the time, preparation, and work required for that within my current schedule is currently not manageable.
I have numerous plans, ideas, and visions for my future in the music industry and life in general. But if you've read this far, I have already taken up enough of your time for one day. So, I would like to leave you with these two quotes to share a bit of wisdom:
'If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children.' — Confucius
'No matter how carefully and detailed you plan your future, it's impossible to know where it will take you. Only what has happened is certain, and it is often the unexpected things that turn out to be the greatest in our life.' — Marphy