Imanbek, a 19-Year-Old From Kazakhstan, Made ‘Roses’ a Hit

Imanbek Zeikenov is 19 years old and lives with his parents in the small village of Aksu in Kazakhstan. He studied railway engineering at school, and until last December, held a day job at his local train station. But everything changed in the summer of 2019, when he discovered a song called “Roses” by the Guyanese-American rapper and singer Saint Jhn.

On the raw, sinewy “Roses,” which had already been commercially available for three years, Saint Jhn sings (explicitly) about a night on the prowl. Imanbek, who records under his first name and had a number of amateur remixes under his belt, resolved to iron out some of the track’s inefficiencies. His take pitches up Jhn’s voice into a manic squeal; he added a thick, rubbery bass line and a snare drum rattling in the distance.

Imanbek posted his remix to Russian social media without giving it a second thought. He returned a few months later, surprised to learn he was a pop star.

“I made an illegal remix,” Imanbek said through a translator over a Zoom call. He was sitting in his newly purchased car and wearing a red-and-white Kappa top. “I didn’t know how to promote it, because I didn’t know how to clear it. So I just put it online, and let it go. A few months later, it blew up the whole world.”

Imanbek started collecting revenue from “Roses” in late 2019, earning enough to quit his job and proclaim himself a professional musician, though Lupinos said checks from the first half of 2020, when the single exploded, aren’t due until later this year. Despite their extremely profitable partnership, Imanbek and Saint Jhn have yet to meet in person. The only way the two have communicated, the producer said, has been over Instagram direct messages.

For now, he is still making music on his 10-year-old laptop using a copy of FL Studio. His sole upgrade has been a new pair of headphones, courtesy of his label. The only recurring reminders of his newfound fame are the emails, WhatsApp messages and Instagram DMs that have flooded his inbox from artists inquiring about potential collaborations. Imanbek screenshots every one of them as a personal memento, before forwarding it along to management.

“One of the latest was from Tiësto,” he said, referring to the star D.J. “He reached out to me and said he really appreciates what I’m doing, and he wished me good luck.”

Imanbek knows he’s sitting on top of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. What’s important, he said, is whatever comes next. “I understand where I am now, that my success is truly global,” he said. “Now, I need to prove that I’m not a one-hit wonder.”

Sahred From Source link Arts

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