As he chose his college based on the prominence of its music scene, Cole Portz graduated from Penn State in December 2020 with a degree in mechanical engineering.
“The first time I performed was probably in my eighth grade talent show,” Portz said. “I played a Dave Matthews song.”
He’s been playing guitar since he was in elementary school — and still gathers inspiration from his eighth grade talent show muse, Dave Matthews.
While he was a student, Portz performed in the Student Programming Association’s Noontime series multiple times.
“Musicians find each other,” Portz said. “A lot of my best friends from school are musicians.”
During the eighth-annual SPA Block Party, Portz played before Joey Bada$$ — he likes to comedically say he opened for the rapper.
“[Music] is one of the most important things [to me],” Portz said. “For me to be able to play, especially when no one’s around, and just play whatever chords I want… Just to get it all out is really helpful. It’s therapeutic.”
Portz said songwriting “isn’t something you do,” but rather it’s “something you find.”
“I’ll be sitting here and just playing the guitar, and a song will come through,” Portz said, gesturing to create an image of a song floating through space. “If you have the right size net and the timing’s right, you can grab it.”
Jade Campos, Jeremiah Hassel, Rebecca Marcinko, Ben McClary and Sophia Montanye contributed to this production.