Amped-up ambitions


Matthew Mergenthaler (10) plays the guitar in his room. He emphasized the importance of his bedroom as the source of his music and its distinct, lo-fi quality.

Nadja Kostadinovic

Most teens hope to graduate high school and get accepted into a college that will prepare them for their choice career, but for some students, their careers have already begun.

“I released my first song, ‘Standstill,’ in early August,” Matt Mergenthaler (10) said.  

This is the case for many high school students aspiring to find success in a music career.  Likewise, many now-famous musicians began their careers in highschool or college.

“If I go to college, I’d want to go, not necessarily for a [career path], but just to learn.  During college I’ll try to start playing my songs more and maybe start touring because I’ll have a car. Hopefully by that time, I will have a band that will play my music with me,” Mergenthaler said.  He currently releases music under the alias Henry Neutral.

Like the music of many young artists, Mergenthaler’s low-fidelity sound is founded on rawness and intimacy.

“I record in my room, and I use my phone and the voice memo app to record. I publish my music on Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I try to share [my music] with my friends, post it on social media and ask other people to listen to it and give me some feedback to see what they think about it,” Mergenthaler said.

Being in high school when beginning a music career affects the finished product.

“It’s definitely an interesting thing because I’d venture to say a lot of musicians don’t start this early, in sophomore year. [My influence], Will Toledo, did. He had released almost ten albums by the time he was 18. [Releasing albums before I get too old] is something I want to start doing. I want to record and release as many albums as I can,” Mergenthaler said.

The sheer youth at which Mergenthaler is recording music is evident in his music, as well the music of many other teenage artists.

“I’d definitely say that being a teenager influences what I write. [It is a lot of] different frustrations, feelings and emotions that me, and I’m betting some other teenagers, may not know how to process.  When I don’t know how to explain what I’m feeling, I write about it, and that’s usually the meaning behind a lot of my songs,” Mergenthaler said.