Supervisor Spotlight: Matt Kaleda

By Dominic Bastyra / Wake The Town

This month we feature an exclusive interview with Head of Music Supervision at Felt Music and GMS Board Member, Matt Kaleda who shares insights into his career to date and what inspired him to pursue a career in supervision. Read the full interview below.

How long have you been working in supervision?

I started clearing music for TV in 1999, when I started in Music copyright at the BBC. I worked in the Drama department across all of BBC TV’s drama output. There were two of us – One exec, who did all the meaty stuff like dealing with score, commissioning composers, booking musicians etc and one who cleared all the music (me). It was all CDs and faxes back then! I made sure I went out of my way to get properly involved with both production teams internally and with the rights owners (record labels and publishers).
The BBC was the perfect place to learn about music rights and clearance, we were very meticulous. We weren’t called music supervisors back then, but we most definitely were.

When did you first learn about supervision and decide it was something you wanted to pursue? 

I first realised there were people who specifically dealt with music in TV and film when I worked at PRS in the 90s, I immediately realised that’s what I wanted to do for a living! 
I remember meeting a bloke I knew who worked at a library music company back then, and asked him how I could get into it. He was fairly dismissive, I wonder what he’s up to now. I was very lucky to get the job at the BBC, I really learnt so much from Nicky, Catherine and Debbie there. 

Was there a particular ad/film that inspired you to explore supervision?

I remember watching a film called ‘Gallipoli’ when I was younger, probably around 12-13, it was about a couple of athletes who ended up as messengers in the trenches at The Battle of Gallipoli in World War I.
What really struck me was the music used when they ran, it was ‘Oxygene 2′ by Jean Michel Jarre (which my parents used to play a lot around the house when I was younger). It seemed an odd choice, having a ‘modern’ synth track played over a period piece, but I loved it, it really made me think about music use in film. 
From then onwards I just started being very aware of the music in film. That Tangerine Dream track – Love on a train in ‘Risky Business’ was another one I was fairly obsessed with, and the music in ‘Midnight Express’ by Giorgio Moroder. 
Then of course all of the Levi’s ad tracks in the 80s/90s – Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Steve Miller Band, The Clash, it all really resonated with me. I also remember a particularly mental Dunlop Tyres advert which used ‘Venus in Furs’ by Velvet Underground, that definitely got my attention! 
‘Phat Planet’ by Leftfield in the Guinness surfer advert was pretty groundbreaking too, I love the fact that apparently it didn’t go down well in research but they ignored it and went ahead. We need risk takers in this game to mix things up!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the job?

‘The Grand Tour’ series 1 definitely. It was a crazy job. All of the production team were all ex BBC and had been there for years, so totally conditioned to a certain way of thinking with music. Blanket agreements! They could just pick a track they liked from their iTunes and whack it in the edit, simple as that. And suddenly there were a whole spectrum of complications put in front of them – clearances, negotiations, licensing… and we’re talking pretty much 40 cues an episode! I had to go in there and make it as streamlined and as simple as possible for the directors/editors, to make their lives as easy as possible. I had to replicate the premium sound that they had created over the years with ‘Top Gear’, with unknown, indie artists/labels and publishers. As we just didn’t have the budget to clear hundreds of major-label acts. The creative was full on and the licensing almost killed me.

What’s your dream project? Are there any particular directors, brands, artists or composers you’d like to work with? 

There’s a film screaming out to be made about the whole acid house revolution back in the late 80s, when youth culture changed radically overnight from drinking and fighting to one big, massive, happy love-in. I was lucky enough to be immersed in the scene in my formative years and it was an incredible time, anything was possible. 
Not a documentary as such, as this has been done, but perhaps a story set in those times, about the scene? 
It would be difficult to capture properly, a few have tried and failed. But I would LOVE to work on anything based on the sub culture. That would be my dream project. 
There are a handful of directors and composers I’d love to work with but it would seem a bit naff if I mentioned them in a public forum… 

What’s the best/your favourite use of music in a film or advertising?

Someone else recently asked me this and it’s a TV sync. John Cooper Clarke’s ‘Evidently Chickentown’ in ‘The Sopranos’, it’s used at end of ep 14 in series 6. It’s just brilliant. It shouldn’t work as there’s such a juxtaposition there, but it just does. How it gets past the HBO execs I really don’t know, but hats off to them!

What advice would you give to those looking to become supervisors? 

Put in the ground work, learn about the complexities of music copyright, unions, legal issues… all the boring stuff! It’s equally as important knowing this as it is to know about the what’s coming out on what label. It’s certainly not all about your music knowledge, and it’s not all glamour.

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