Studio work has always been part of the equation as well. Early on, he recorded local bands in Ohio and then took an engineering gig at Troutman Sound Labs in Dayton. “I learned a lot of my studio chops from Roger Troutman,” he says. “That was a major milestone in my career.”
Over the past 12 years, Camp has also operated his own studio, a facility he originally worked at as an engineer for two years before taking it over from previous owner Walter Orange of the Commodores. “I actually ended up buying his house and his studio in Los Angeles,” he says, adding that he moved the studio to Summerlin, a suburb of Vegas, when he relocated to Nevada 10 years ago.
It’s enough to keep anyone busy, but in June of last year, Camp increased his workload substantially by opening Master Mix Live, a dedicated school that offers an hands-on, 20-week program aimed at preparing students for a career in professional audio. Students learn basic electrical principles, rigging practices, and mix techniques. They work with live bands as well as multi-track recordings of shows Camp has mixed, and intern at local casino showrooms and sound companies.
“We start from the beginning and build. I talk about etiquette, because before you get to mix a Beyoncé, you’ve got to know how to deal with the politics of mixing a Beyoncé, so I talk about the business, how it operates, the do’s and the don’ts,” he notes, adding that the program is wholly dedicated to audio.
“A lot of kids go to schools where they’re in a class with 30 people and never touch a console,” he adds. “They take video, lighting and everything else under the sun, but just a bit of audio. I only have eight students at a time because I want to make sure that they really know what they’re doing and can get a job.”
Establishing Master Mix Live is an expression of Camp’s long-standing commitment to sharing his knowledge of the art and science of sound with others. “I’ve always taught people as I go. and never have a problem showing them what I know or how to do something.” The idea for a formal program eventually came to him: “It’s been a work in progress for probably about 10 years, but in the last three years I got serious about putting it together.”
Camp is currently finishing up mixes for an upcoming Jennifer Lopez DVD, recorded in 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal, and is also working on a project that requires his skills as a live and studio engineer: a reworking of the Bally’s Casino production of “Jubilee,” a classic Vegas revue that’s been running for 32 years.
Camp working with his son Noel Edwards. (click to enlarge)
“The last time they did something to freshen up the show was about 20 years ago,” he notes. “I’m restoring and remixing it in 5.1 surround, and adding music for the new production that opens in March.” The final stage in revitalizing these tracks, which were originally recorded with a 60-piece orchestra, is a final mix in the theatre itself to optimize the sound for the venue.
Both of the recent projects have Camp working again with musical director Kimberly Burse, who also brought him onboard with Beyoncé. And to handle monitor mixing for a portion of the superstar performer’s recent tours, she chose a talented audio professional in his own right, Noel Edwards, who is Camp’s 31-year-old son.
In high school, Noel was an aspiring basketball player who unfortunately severely injured a knee on the football field. “The next thing I knew, he was asking me questions about audio,” Camp relates. “By his senior year, he was mixing at clubs, and I actually sent him out on a one-off gig with Lil’ Kim when he was still in high school. And he’s done a lot on his own, working with Rat Sound, Delicate Productions, and a mega church in LA.”
It was family that prompted Camp’s move to Nevada in the first place, the desire to settle down with his Las Vegas-based wife, Jorina, whom he met while touring with Beyoncé. “She’s an actress and model, and was actually Beyonce’s stand-in for camera blocking at an awards show.” They’ve been together 10 years, and in addition to Noel, he also has three adult daughters by way of an earlier marriage.
Camp says he’s trying to slow down a bit and spend more time at home, but even so, keeps up a pace that might wear out far younger folks. “I don’t know,” he concludes, laughing.
“I’ve just had that work ethic since I was a kid. I just go at it and get it done. I guess it’s from my grandfather, who owned his own refrigeration business. I grew up watching him do his own thing every day, getting up and going to work. I guess that’s where the entrepreneurial spirit comes from.”
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.