One push “play” on his SoundCloud profile and you’ll find yourself having listened to his catalog while simultaneously listening to all the songs you already know and love. Bearing Chicago-based producer Stefan Ponce’s distinctive sound are Vic Mensa’s “Down on my Luck,” Childish Gambino’s Grammy-nominated “3005,” Chance the Rapper’s “Good Ass Intro,” and most recently Mensa and West’s “U Mad.” Yet, even with Ponce playing a role in the industry that foregoes center stage, he has built a cult-following of his own. Just ask the crowd of partygoers that find themselves waiting in line outside of Ponce’s eponymous Chicago monthly function “Stefan Ponce and Friends” or the never ending list of people inquiring about collabs. With our first installment of our Please Respond interview series, we want to further place the spotlight on Stefan Ponce.
Stefan Ponce is a brand that carries a lot of weight; what are your thoughts on personal branding?
Those are such kind words. I’m very particular on who I associate myself with.Your brand is everything and even for me as a Producer/Artist, I really try to pay attention to who I connect with. If it doesn’t make sense for me, it isn’t going to make sense for my fans.
From an early age, you’ve known that music is what you wanted to do. How did you always stay true to yourself/ this path without giving in to traditional expectations?
I’ve always felt like there was something pushing me not to quit. Even when I’ve felt like I was done, the Universe would give me a sign to keep striving toward success. When I found out I was going to be a young father, I remember telling the mother of my child, “If music doesn’t really pop off within the year, I’ll get a job.” The next month Donald [Childish Gambino] asked me to move in with him In LA to make “Because the Internet.”
How would you describe your musical style and how did it come about?
I’m an emotional artist. I think what I bring to the table is the ability to make the audience feel a certain way, whether it be joy or sorrow. I’m all about feels.
Typically, artists from Chicago and generally the Midwest move out to Los Angeles or New York. Can you touch on your decision to stay in the city of Chicago and build/add to the culture (ex. the SPAF parties)?
I love this city with all my soul. I want to see my city be the biggest it possibility can be and I want to be involved in that. This city breaks and makes you. It keeps you humble. Our winters are terrible, so the only thing to do in the winter is make music & I love that about Chicago.
The creative world can be an “every man for himself” type of field, but you go out of your way to help people, by collaborating, giving back, linking people together, etc. Why is this important to you?
I just want to see my friends win and I want to help the people around me be the best artist they can be. I feel like all a person really needs to succeed is a little support. I want to support everyone and anyone who I feel is talented.
You DJ other people’s events, you host your own parties, you’re in the studio, you have a family… how do you successfully balance everything?
I have a good team. My manager is on point with me; my baby mama is very supportive. I’m very crazy and all over the place. My brain comes up with ideas by the minute and I want to make all of them a reality, but if you don’t have a team behind you to support those ideas, they won’t be executed correctly.
Considering you’re a Grammy-nominated artist, some would say you’re pretty accomplished for your age. What are three things that are on your bucket list to still accomplish?
I want to make movies. I want to build a spaceship. I want to fly in that spaceship I build and make a movie about it.
We’re halfway through the year, what’s in store for the other half of 2015?
I have a house EP called “Somewhere” it’s about 4 songs. I should be releasing that soon. I’ve been sitting on it for a while but I also have so much music that I’ve been dying to put out. Very excited. People really only see me as a Producer/DJ instead of the Artist/Producer that I am. The music that I’m going to release will help people see me more as an artist.
Photography by Anthony Trevino
Interview and styling by Adriana Gaspar