23-year-old composer and Berklee film scoring graduate Casey Kolb is the latest recipient of the Pete Carpenter Fellowship, a competitive residency for aspiring visual media composers. The award was established in 1989 by iconic composer and BMI Foundation Advisory Panelist Mike Post, in memory of his late co-composer and television theme scoring veteran, Pete Carpenter. The 2016 program included a stipend and five weeks of intensive, in-studio mentorship with award-winning BMI composers Chris Lennertz and Tim Wynn at their Sonic Fuel Studios in Los Angeles. Lennertz has scored numerous films including Horrible Bosses, Identity Thief, Ride Along and Ride Along 2, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, as well as TV series Agent Carter, Galavant, Revolution, and Supernatural, and the Medal of Honor video game series, among others. Wynn has written music for films including Superfast! and To Save a Life, TV shows The Chair and Odyssey: Driving Around the World, and video games The Simpsons, XCom2 and Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3, among many others. The two also collaborated on the hit video game Warhawks.
Casey Kolb grew up with music, receiving a new musical instrument every Christmas. Since then his passion for music has taken many forms, from performance and composition to the development of specialized music software. Born in Maryland, Casey graduated from Princeton University in 2015 with a B.A. in Music and a minor in Computer Science. In 2016, he earned his Master’s degree in Scoring for Film, Television, and Video Games from Berklee College of Music, where he worked on a variety of film and music projects and recorded with orchestras in Budapest, Montreal, Valencia, and, most recently, at London’s Air Studios.
Casey’s winning score submission, “A Beautiful Corruption,” was written for an imagined dark fantasy sequence in which a beautiful yet haunting landscape devolves into an industrial wasteland, as the protagonist surveys the scene from the balcony of a menacing castle. The fellowship selection committee remarked on its cinematic strength and dynamic progression. Listen to his original composition below:
The BMI Foundation recently caught up with Casey to discuss his fellowship experience and continued work with Sonic Fuel Studios:
1.Can you describe your reaction when Anne Cecere called to tell you that you won the Fellowship?
I was packing for a flight from Spain to Maryland when Anne called, so there was a lot on my mind. However, the moment she told me I won, all my qualms about the industry vanished. It seemed to validate my choice to pursue a career in music, and I felt immensely happy.
2.Tell us a bit about your background leading up to that moment and why you chose to pursue a career in film scoring?
Film scoring has always been a dream of mine. I watched “The Lion King” so many times as a child that my mother had to buy a new VHS cassette because I wore the tape down (the bane of being a 90s kid). Something about the music so perfectly set to picture was endlessly fascinating. Since then, I’ve had my sights set on Hollywood. I went on to finish my Master’s in film scoring and was fortunate enough to win the Fellowship right after graduating. My career aspirations were fairly uncertain at the time, so it really helped focus my efforts on scoring.
3.You’re originally from Maryland and decided to permanently relocate to Los Angeles for the Fellowship. Did you have any trepidation about moving across the country to pursue your dreams?
There was definitely a blend of excitement and anxiety with the move. However, I know I am just one of the many dreamers who flock to Los Angeles, so moving didn’t seem too crazy at the time. To be honest, I was mostly worried they wouldn’t have Chick-Fil-A on the West Coast, but I was pleasantly surprised! Some things you just can’t leave behind.
4.Describe your experience at Sonic Fuel Studios and learning from Chris and Tim’s creative process.
Sonic Fuel is a truly great place to work. Everyone is very down to earth and talented. However, it wasn’t until working with Tim and Chris that I realized just how little I knew. I learned so much in that month, not just about the creative process, but also about the inner workings of the industry. Not a day went by when I wasn’t discovering something new. It was both a humbling and invaluable experience, riddled with mistakes and personal shortcomings, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
5.Do you have a favorite memory from the Fellowship?
Simply meeting everyone at the studio and interacting with new composers and musicians every day was a really wonderful aspect. The work of a composer is often solitary, especially given the character of a personal studio, so I strongly value the sense of community the Fellowship provided.
6.What other opportunities did the Fellowship afford you beyond the studio?
I had the privilege of meeting with the renowned publicist, Beth Krakower, as well as various other composers outside the studio. I also had the opportunity to visit Warner Brothers Studio to see spotting sessions for the TV series Supernatural!
7.Your musical influences are varied and include Mozart, Gershwin, and Skrillex. Would you describe your work as a blending of genres?
Versatility is crucial in the film music industry, but for me, finding the intersection between these genres can be far more rewarding. Many great composers seem to find their voices at that delicate boundary, so I strive to blur this line while still maintaining my musical authenticity.
8.How has the Pete Carpenter Fellowship impacted your career? What’s next for you?
After the Fellowship, I began assisting Tim Wynn on a variety of video games and television series. The experience has been incredibly formative, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to continue working at Sonic Fuel. The people I’ve met in the last few months have truly been an inspiring force. In the near future, I hope to start my own music technology company with a focus on intelligent software for composers and data-driven apps aimed at the creative process.
The Pete Carpenter Fellowship is an annual, competitive residency for aspiring film, television, and video game composers. The program awards a $2,000 stipend, free housing courtesy of Tilden House, four to five weeks of intensive, in-studio mentorship with established composers in Los Angeles, as well as the opportunity to consult with other distinguished leaders in the entertainment industry. The Pete Carpenter Fellowship was established in 1989 by BMIF Advisory Panelist and iconic composer Mike Post, in memory of the late Pete Carpenter, who was Mr. Post’s co-composer of television themes and scores including The A-Team, Magnum P.I., The Rockford Files (for which they won a GRAMMY), Hardcastle and McCormick, Hunter and Riptide. Also the winner of an Emmy and fifty BMI Film & TV Awards, Post is best known for his TV theme songs for series including Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, and NYPD Blue.
The BMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1985 to encourage the creation, performance, and study of American music. The Foundation’s programs include competitive scholarships for songwriters and composers, operating grants for nonprofit arts presenters, and support for innovative music education initiatives in schools and communities across the country. For more information about the work of the Foundation, please visit our website at www.bmifoundation.org. For exclusive news and content, follow @bmifoundation on Twitter and Instagram, and like “BMI Foundation” on Facebook at facebook.com/bmifoundation.