From a semester in LA to a full-fledged music supervision career, our alumnus Justin Kamps is doing it all. We spoke with Justin about his journey, his music supervision company in LA, and advice for future graduates.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey from the MAM program in Chicago to your music supervision career in LA?
There were a couple specific things that piqued my interest in pursuing further education at Columbia College Chicago after undergrad. First, that the MAM program listed that they offered a class in Music Supervision, and second, that the school had a program called Semester in LA. Through my small amount of initial research into music supervision, it really seemed like LA was the place to be if you wanted to pursue a career as a music supervisor. So I started working through the MAM program at CCC and really enjoyed every minute of it. Even though I was working towards music supervision, the program really offered a diverse glimpse into many different facets of the music business. In the end, I had set up all my classes so that Semester in LA would be the last thing I needed to complete before graduation, with a goal of hopefully being able to stay in LA and not have to move back to complete anything else. Prior to Semester in LA, I had taken the music supervision course they offered, and during that class, one of the teachers was impressed with my work in the class and was aware that I was about to head out to LA in the coming months. She had previously worked at Chop Shop before moving to Chicago and suggested that I reach out to them and see if they were looking for any interns. So I did, and shortly after moving out to LA for the Semester in LA program, I had landed an internship at Chop Shop. This allowed me to get real hands-on experience in Music Supervision, while also learning from other supervisors and composers during the Semester in LA program. I 100% would not be where I am right now without the help of the faculty and programs at CCC. It was a great opportunity and I’m glad I was able to take advantage of all they had to offer!
Was music supervision always the goal for you? How did you become interested in that particular field?
Music supervision wasn’t what I was always driving towards when I first started college. Originally, I was working towards music education. However, after taking the first round of education courses I felt that it wasn’t really for me. I ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Music with a minor in Business. After that, I thought…what do I do with this?! I graduated with a super general degree, and not any really clear direction of where to go next. I knew I wanted to do something in music, but not education, not performance, and not opening a record label or something. So I started to do further research into music-related jobs, and at the time I was a big fan of tv shows like Rescue Me, and Chuck and the music that was placed in each episode. I would come to learn that there was a specific person who handled that task, the music supervisor, and specifically on those shows Alexandra Patsavas. I just thought, finally, here is something that is just perfect for me. I had an intense love of film/tv and music and this is a job that combines them all! I was so certain that this was something I would enjoy and could potentially be good at, that I immediately started to search for ways to kick off my education infield, and that led me to Columbia College Chicago.
You worked at Chop Shop for a while…how did your time there prepare you to open Monster Sector?
My time at Chop Shop was invaluable as far as preparing me to eventually go out on my own and start Monster Sector. Alex was an amazing leader to work for. She cultivated an amazing team of creative minds and I loved every minute in the office. She was also very careful to make sure and get everyone involved in every aspect of the job, even as an intern at the start I was able to help out with some creative pitches very early on. It’s at Chop Shop where I learned how the job really works, how it’s more than just creating playlists and listening to music all day. There is SO MUCH more to it than that. During my time with Chop Shop, Alex was gracious enough to eventually let me co-supervise some projects with her and take more of a lead on things. I feel extremely lucky to have had her as a boss and mentor. She really did such an amazing job setting me and my co-workers up to be successful on our own once Chop Shop closed. I will forever be grateful and indebted to her for taking a chance on me as an intern so many years ago!
What projects are you currently working on that you’re really excited about?
I feel grateful to be working on some really exciting projects at the moment. I was involved a bit in the first season of Bridgerton during the last year of Chop Shop, and now am working on Season 2 as the music supervisor under Monster Sector. I feel incredibly honored to be working with all of the amazing talents behind that show. Fans are going to love season 2, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. I’m also currently working on a new Resident Evil live-action TV series for Netflix. I can’t say much about it yet, but as a huge fan of video games, I find that I’m having to pinch myself a lot when I think about working on this show. It’s totally a dream project for me, and definitely the type of project I was shooting for when I created Monster Sector. Resident Evil is going to be a blast, and I hope you all enjoy it when it eventually hits Netflix!
What advice would you give Columbia students who are trying to break into the music business industry?
Take advantage of everything that Columbia has to offer. Not just the classes, but the faculty as well. Everything and everyone can be a resource for you there. The music industry is all about networking and connections and even if you’re trying to make it to LA or NY or wherever it’s never too early to start. Start where you are now, make sure people know what career you’re driving towards. You never know who might be able to help you along the way to reaching your goal. Also, if you’re lucky enough to land an internship somewhere in the field you’re trying to break into, please don’t squander it. Work hard like it’s already your full-time career. Dive in and give it your all. I can’t tell you how many interns we had come through Chop Shop that just didn’t do quality work and wasted the opportunity that they were given. It’s not easy to even land an internship these days, so make the most of it!