In March of this year, Kazakhstan’s most popular DJ and sound engineer Imanbek made history when he became the first person from Central Asia to receive a Grammy. How has the career of the young musician evolved since then?
Imanbek Zeikenov, known in the recording industry simply as Imanbek, is a former train station worker in the small town of Aksu in northern Kazakhstan, who in March this year became the first person in her home country to win a Grammy Award.
The 20-year-old’s homemade remix of Saint Jhn’s song Roses won him a Grammy for Best Remixed Recording, making him not only the first person from Kazakhstan to receive the prestigious award, but also the first from a post-Soviet country to receive a Grammy for one of the “no traditional ”.
Imanbek says he made the Grammy-winning remix in just over two hours on his home computer in 2019. The track now has over 273 million views on YouTube alone and over billion streams on various platforms, exceeding significantly the popularity of Saint Jhn’s. original song.
Shortly after posting his work on social media, the track went viral in Central Asia, Russia, and elsewhere in the post-Soviet space. From there, the high-pitched, accelerated version of the song found its way to TikTok, where it spread around the world.
In the summer of 2019, Imanbek signed with Russian label Effective Records who settled the rights for him to use the already popular song.
Although Imanbek attempted to contact Saint Jhn via Instagram to ask if he could do his own take on the song, perhaps not surprisingly, the American artist ignored a teenager’s post. Kazakh at random.
Imanbek’s remix quickly became one of the most-listened to electronic tracks of the year, ranking No. 1 for 23 weeks in Billboard’s Dance / Electronic Songs category. In May, the remix won Billboard’s Top Dance / Electronic Song award, which is determined based on sales, online streams, radio broadcast, and social media engagement.
As a result, Kazakh today has much less difficulty in coming into contact with traditional celebrities.
In February, he worked on the sound arrangement of the song Fat by Anglo-Kosovar singer Rita Ora and American rapper Gunna, alongside famous French DJ David Guetta.
While Imanbek has certainly been able to grab the attention of several Western celebrities, the sound engineer is still based in Kazakhstan and works with local musicians, video producers and actors to produce a steady stream of content that goes from hundreds of thousands to millions of views. and streams on various platforms.
One of these projects is Feel good, which was recorded and produced in the musician’s home country, as was his video, in which Imanbek can be seen driving a red car and blasting his electronic beats on the streets of a Kazakh city.
Although Imanbek’s career took off after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, most of his tracks are quick and perfect for the club.
Despite this, the sound engineer, who according to Kazakh bloggers still lives for the most part in Aksu, a city of less than 70,000 inhabitants, affirms that “there is not so much clubbing culture in this district”, while suggesting that he personally doesn’t like going out clubbing either.
“My knowledge comes mainly from YouTube tutorials. I grew up listening to Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Marshmello, Dillon Francis, which I all learned on the Internet, ”explains Imanbek.
At the end of August, he also gained experience as a live DJ when he performed at Noa Beach Club on the island of Pag in Croatia.
Imanbek, who Kazakh fans have described as humble and indifferent to the attributes of stardom, so far seems content with advancing his career from the comfort of his hometown in Kazakhstan.
The rising star, however, also comes across as very social media and marketing savvy, and appears to be working tirelessly to ensure that the success of the Roses remix brought him continuous.
A little over a week ago, the Kazakh released another production – Fighter, alongside the popular American singer LP, who also received praise from electronic music fans.
While some have called the surprising popularity of Imanbek’s career remix a Roses as luck would have it, since winning several prestigious awards for the track, the musician has shown nothing but hard work and dedication to his craft.
It certainly wouldn’t be luck if Imanbek’s name soon became one of the most recognizable in the sound production industry.
Photo: Pavel Boycheckno / Effective Files
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