Interview: Imanbek Talks “Roses” Remix & New Music
19-year-old Kazakh DJ/record producer Imanbek caught lightning in a bottle when he decided to remix SAINt JHN’s “Roses” — as a bootleg, at first — and post it online. The irresistible banger exploded almost instantly, becoming a sensation across Europe. The rapper eventually gave his blessing to release the remix officially and it immediately took off on social media apps like TikTok and Snapchat. Before too long, “Roses” was racking up huge numbers on Spotify (700 million streams and counting).
Radio then embraced the song, propelling the teenager to breakout star status as his “Roses” remix topped the charts in the UK, Australia and soared into the top five on the Billboard Hot 100. I recently reached out to Imanbek to find out more about the creation of his global hit and new music. The newcomer opened up about his journey from railway worker to hitmaker, which he likens to a movie, and revealed that he has several major collaborations on the way. Get to know the breakout DJ a little better in our Q&A below.
How did you get into electronic music and production?
I was just a big fan of new music and I was always checking out what’s fresh and coming out soon. I started with remixing tracks that I liked first, as bootlegs of course, then I later decided to produce my own tracks that you may see in my profile now.
When did you start making your own beats and remixing?
It was two years ago with remixes and one year ago with my own beats.
How did you first hear SAINt JHN’s “Roses”?
I was checking out the playlists on our local social media and found it. I loved it for some reason and decided to give it a try straight away.
What is it about that song in particular that made you want to remix it?
I can’t say it was anything in particular. It just happened, organically. I saw the track and I decided that I wanted to make the remix. There was no plan but when I saw the track, the creative idea came to me.
Could you tell you were on to something special when the remix was finished?
Not really, I just randomly posted it with my other remixes and bootlegs online. Two months later, it just exploded. I never thought anything like this would happen.
How did it feel when “Roses” started taking off in Europe?
The track first started to explode via Youtube, Tiktok, social media and of course radio. The track got airplay very quick, like a ripple effect. It was an amazing feeling.
When did SAINt JHN give permission to release it officially?
I think it was in August, in the very end. The same week when he played a show in Moscow and my manager met him and his team.
How does it feel to have a smash hit in America?
Well… it is unbelievable. I just can’t even explain it. It’s like a story from a movie! It’s like a dream, but it actually happened in reality. I still can’t believe [it] and I’m so happy and proud.
Have you met SAINt JHN in person?
No, not yet.
How did your song with Martin Jensen come about?
We were basically hooked up via our labels and management. I liked the idea of the collaboration so we both agreed straight away and it seems like people really love the record, that’s the most important thing. This was a new experience for me and my first collaboration on the international scene — not with a local artist that I have worked with previously.
What’s next for you? Is more music coming?
Yes, the schedule is already set up for the start of 2021 and even further. We have a collaboration with VIZE and the legendary Dieter Bohlen coming out just now, then a collaboration with Tory Lanez, plus a few remixes for famous acts that you know but I can’t reveal the names yet, then two or three really serious collaborations with top 10 DJs from around the world and artists with Grammy nominations as well. Lots of material is done and is in pipeline as well, I hope I’ll surprise the world many more times in following years.
How did you co-workers and friends react when the song became a hit?
They really support me, they are happy for me as I am for myself, good vibes and support is important, especially from my team, friends and fellow artists. Positive vibes also make positive music.