Scott Campbell SHB'94, professionally known as DJ CAMS, has shared the stage with world-renowned artists as one of the West Coast's most sought after DJs. The "Best of the Bay Area" honoree by San Francisco Magazine returns to his roots March 17-18 as the DJ/emcee for Celebrate Spring.
A long way from his Stuart Hall days of singing in the vocal ensemble and playing cello, Scott Campbell SHB'94 earned the title of San Francisco Magazine's "Best of the Bay" this year for the sixth time. In addition to spinning at some of the city's most exclusive nightclubs, he regularly entertains at major venues across the U.S. and internationally. The Bay Area native will return to his musical roots on March 17-18 as the DJ/emcee for Celebrate Spring, marking the 25th anniversary of the Parents Association's largest annual fundraiser.
What do you remember most about your time at Stuart Hall?
Well, the blazer and tie, knee socks, and penny loafers are definitely hard to forget (laughs). Actually the older I get and the more I look back at Stuart Hall, the more thankful I am for my time there. It was the complete package – academics, athletics, arts, faith, and community – an amazing foundation that I feel very fortunate to have.
When did you first become interested in DJ'ing, and what made you want to become one?
While on a college trip to London in 2000 I got to see my first really "big" DJ at a club there and was mesmerized by his charisma and how he controlled the dance floor and took the crowd on a musical journey. I bought my first set of turntables soon after that but music has been one of my greatest loves as long as I can remember. I sang in the vocal ensemble and played the cello all through Stuart Hall but was equally inspired by the rock, pop, and hip hop I heard on the radio at the same time and made my first mixtapes from. When I realized that DJ'ing would give me the opportunity to express my love for all kinds of music I was hooked.
What's the most misunderstood thing about being a DJ?
Perhaps that it's not a serious career – a party all night, sleep all day, "hobby" kind of thing. Making a living as a DJ and supporting my family is absolutely a full-time job and one that I'm thankful for every day. I have so much respect for all my fellow DJs out there who do the same.
Can you briefly describe a few milestone events in your career journey?
I started DJ'ing professionally in 2005 but had other jobs at the same time and also went back to grad school in the couple years after that because part of me then didn't think that DJ'ing could ever be a full-time job. By 2009 though I realized that unless I truly followed my passion and gave it a real shot I'd always regret it. So that year I made the decision to pursue DJ'ing full time and that leap of faith really paved the way for everything I've been able to accomplish since. The next year in 2010 I was incredibly honored to be named "Best of the Bay Area" by San Francisco Magazine for the first time and everything really took off from there.
From the idea stage to bringing a product or service to market, what advice would you give to current and prospective students who want to start a business?
Starting a successful business is not an easy undertaking and I'd first recommend having an honest conversation with yourself about all the benefits and challenges that come with it. Finding something you're truly passionate about is great but you need to understand that even with that passion it will take a ton of work, there will be a lot of competition, and it won't happen overnight. Don't be in a rush to have immediate success. Take the time to practice and hone your product or service, surround yourself with a network of great people, and never stop learning or improving.
How do you describe your DJ'ing style, and what can Celebrate Spring Gala attendees expect at the event?
Being a fan of all kinds of music, I love to mix together tunes from different genres and decades to fire up a dance floor and keep it interesting. Despite all the work I put in, at the end of the day I'm fortunate to have a very fun job and am sure all the guests will see me having a blast and hopefully have one too!
Did you ever imagine staying involved in this way as an alumnus?
There are many times when I still can't believe that I do this for a living, so if you would have told me back when I was in first through eighth grade at Stuart Hall that one day I'd be DJ'ing and MC'ing Celebrate Spring, I would definitely have thought you were crazy (laughs). I'm very grateful to be part of the Schools of the Sacred Heart family and honored to be part of an event that helps ensure countless bright futures.