UCSB grad Kian McHugh at a photoshoot at Blackspace Studios in January . Photo credit: Glenn Matheny.

UCSB grad Kian McHugh at a photoshoot at Blackspace Studios in January. Photo credit: Glenn Matheny.

By Dylan Langdon

At age 22, recent UC Santa Barbara alum Kian McHugh graduated from Film and Media Studies already with a solid foothold in the music industry, as one of the principals of The Kollection, a website devoted to alternative music.

McHugh co-founded his first music blog, Filthy Slaps, as a freshman in high school, then sold that and began writing for The Kollection at the early age 14. Kian has been with The Kollection ever since. 

“You get a taste of that life and it’s just something you’re kind of addicted to,” he recalls. “Then you realize that it could be a job someday, and that’s when it gets really exciting.”

His commitment remained steady as the popular music blog’s team shrunk and it became his own solo venture with resources reduced to a mere Soundcloud feature. Using The Kollection’s  heart logo and its slogan “Music for the Rest of Us,” he continued posting content and developed a following.

He has since rebuilt The Kollection from the ground up. He and his new team released a new website in July, 2018 with content ranging from playlists of new music to articles about prominent or up-and-coming artists in the Rap and Electronic Dance Music scenes. The Kollection also held two concerts in Los Angeles between November and January, which were well-attended. 

In addition to the investment he has made over the past eight years in The Kollection, McHugh has has expanded his career beyond that. Just days after graduating in June 2018, he moved to Los Angeles to work as an assistant to Dana Sano, the vice-president of film and television at Republic Records, a division of one of the world’s largest labels.  That has included assisting Sano while she worked on large productions such as the soundtrack for the film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

“I never would have thought I’d work a nine-to-five,” McHugh said. “But I see it as my own version of graduate school.”

While McHugh is still learning how to succeed in the industry, he says his time in the Film and Media program at UCSB taught him important skills that have helped get him to where he is today – mainly improving his writing and formulating mature criticisms of art. 

“I think that because the music industry is this bizarre place, and I was taught to question everything, I go about things in a very different way than I would have if I had gone to USC and joined their music industry major,” he said.

Photo credit: Myles Slattery.

Photo credit: Myles Slattery.

McHugh met many of the contributors to The Kollection at UCSB, including both of the other current editors. McHugh says studying film also taught him an attention to detail that he translates into planning concerts and parties. While at UCSB, McHugh put on many Kollection events ranging from band concerts to House music shows at local nightclubs. 

Since his move to Los Angeles, The Kollection has held three major events. Over 600 people came through the doors at the first event which featured DJs such as Justin Jay. Although he has been finding success with concerts, McHugh hopes to have a bigger impact than offering the attendees a chance to have fun.

“What we’re really trying to is create an energy at our events that you can really get excited for, but take it to an even bigger scale,” he said. “We’d like bring in an artist you might even know but then you leave and they’re your new favorite artist.”

McHugh began early along the music career path with his small blog in high school and weathered the era when blogs became less lucrative. But his passion paid off and he eventually attracted thousands who appreciate his exclusive releases and mixes with various DJ’s.  “Kian has this uncanny ability to remind the world of just how damn good his music taste is,” said McHugh’s long time friend Miles Vinikow, a UCSB graduate student in technology management. 

The Kollection is now rebuilding a foothold in the industry with the success of its website and recent concert events. And McHugh is still doing what he loves. 

Dylan Langdon is a third year UC Santa Barbara student majoring in Communication.