After exploring the different sounds and flavors of the world music scene in the wake of the CIS collapse, I Wannabe (hailing from Kiev, Ukraine) began creating electronic compositions of his own.
He has been an active and passionate listener of music from an early age and has utilized his diverse tastes to probe various genres and soundscapes.
Dabbling in numerous sub-genres of electronica, he has evolved himself into a multi-faceted craftsman.
With the upcoming release of several new projects, it seemed like now is a great time to get to know the expansive artist.
Prox: Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get into music? Do you remember some of the first albums that had an impact on you?
I Wannabe: As far back as I can remember myself I was always connected to music. I was lucky to have a vinyl player since childhood and amazing parents that indulged my whims. So I always had a device to listen to music and loads of vinyl, tales, and CDs.
I've been listening to music since I was 1 or 2 but I don’t remember that. One of the first albums that I was excited for was Space’s album Just Blue and Magic Fly (on the USSR edition it was called “Волшебный полёт”). Super cosmic sound with unreal melodies I’d never heard before and anywhere else for that time for me.
The second vinyl that I was very excited for was Zodiac’s Disco Alliance.
Both of them were the fusion of live music instruments and synthesizer sounds that I love to listen to from time to time. I still enjoy it now.
Sound producers, DJs, and music lovers of my age and older outside of the USSR grew up on amazing music which counts as classics and origins precedes electronic music. But I could only discover that much later because of it's unavailability in the USSR and CIS countries after it's collapse till the time the internet allowed me to do so.
Prox: I’m always interested in the sounds coming out of the birthplace of artists. What were the sounds like in the Ukraine while you were growing up? Was it different back then?
I Wannabe: In late 80s the music that was allowed legally was from the local pop and national artists from the USSR’s republics and of course the classic music. These were pressed on vinyl with huge editions and took almost 95% vinyl in USSR if I’m not mistaken. Also the censorship said “yes” to some chosen music from outside. In my parents vinyl collection there were Beatles, Omega (Hungarian rock band) and Space albums, that’s all I can remember now.
Those releases were thoroughly picked, translated, and pressed at our plants with translations of song titles, lyrics and covers.
In the 90s after USSR collapsed we finally started to get music from the outside that no one filtered for us. The selection was now based on popularity, not censorship. So we were drowned in pop music from around the world and of course, the parts of soviet legacy plus new artists.
This is the music I listened to, and as a breath of fresh air I could find music that was not like stuff in the mainstream – alternative, heavy metal, punk rock, hip-hop, the music for the dancefloors like house, trance, and techno. For me, the 90s was the beginning of exploration and understanding that there is a different and more interesting side of music than that which I’ve heard before.
Yeah, it was totally different and that’s all because of no open sources of information. Many thanks to the internet! ☺
Prox: Why do you think electronica had such an influence on you?
I Wannabe: I listen to a lot of music nowadays, I still discover lots of music that’s new to me, but it’s all about the feelings that I have when I listen to it. The groove, the sounds, they make me stop and then pull me out to another dimensions.
This music never the same. It moves alongside the technologies. New technologies give birth to new genres, styles, and their mixtures.
Electronic music now influences almost all the music we hear more or less.
Prox: You’ve got two new projects on the way for us. Could you tell us more about them? What is the significance of the titles and how do they represent the sounds you’re giving us?
I Wannabe: In 2001 I discovered jungle and drum and bass music and fell in love with it. Since then, I wanted to produce some music like that but I couldn’t understand how. Six years later, I release my first free release with 4 drum and bass tracks as “I Wannabe.”
This was the main and only project of me for 7 years. Drum and bass became my obsession and I got totally into that music.
The idea of title was to combine the artist name and the title of track to get a full sentence. For example “I want to be the miracle of 21st century”. But I didn’t know that “I wannabe” was written as a misprint by myself. So here it is ☺
As I understood later that “I Wannabe” was created to explore drum and bass music. I mutated from the heavy sound to liquid and soulful and then I explored halfstep, minimal sound, techstep, the experimental side of electronic music at 170bpm etc. So in a nutshell, I Wannabe is about drum and bass exploration – no subgenre restrictions.
Also the scene in Ukraine opened up to dubstep. Like some producers from drum and bass and other music genres, I felt that it’s my way to expand the scope. I played DJ sets and live performances with dubstep and made a couple of releases. The expansion continued and I tried house, trip-hop, and some other genres and I finished with producing techno music as I was super excited about that. It was totally opposite to drum and bass.
I produced the 2 track “Universe” EP and before releasing it, I was thinking that it's not what people are familiar with in regards to I Wannabe’s music, so my techno alias, Shade Of Drums was born.
Shade Of Drums is the music that was born behind the drum and bass, behind basses and in the shade of drums. For the longest time it was my side project, but still I have released two more releases that took nice support of DJ’s of techno scene worldwide.
Shade Of Drums is about the techno music, the synergy between the man and the machine.
Prox: Why did you decide to start your own label Deviant Drums? Does it have anything to do with your love for vinyl?
I Wannabe: Yeah, I love vinyl very much despite the fact that I have a fairly modest collection. As I said earlier I Wannabe represents musical exploration and I want to release that music. I’m an indie artist and I do not have any of contract with a major label. If i’m in a contract with a major, I’ll need to focus on one sound or style and to be predictable in the musical product I make. I don’t want this to happen.
So I started the Deviant Drums label to release my music by myself. I decide what to release, when and what format it will have. It’s the label where I plan to release my music, the collaborations, and the remixes of artists I deeply love and respect.
From time to time I need inspiration. Sometimes it’s other music, sometimes it’s good movies or a painting. Once I checked the comments for one of my tracks on a pirate music website where you can download the releases for free and I found some very offensive comments about it. The main idea was: “it’s so bad that I don’t even want it for free.” That was the point I understood that I didn't want to make digital releases anymore. I don’t want to give my music to those people who don’t understand it, and don’t try to understand it cause they are so into the mainstream stuff with which they were comparing that release. Digital releases are compromised, they have no value because of piracy. So I want to produce a product that means something and has value to someone. That’s why I chose vinyl.
Prox: What do you want people to take away from your music?
I Wannabe: Feelings, emotions, mood.
Prox: Could you tell us about your current work setup?
I Wannabe: It’s super simple. I’m a PC user. My DAW is Cubase. I’m huge fan of UAD plugins.
I have the Korg R3 synth that I use as a midi keyboard or design and record audio from there.
This year I started to buy modules to build my own modular synthesizer. The goal is to create the setup for techno to create the full track inside of it and then record that and create live performances.
But until I build it I already use some sound from it in the tracks as effects, layers and even the acid ☺
Prox: What are some tips you’d give to aspiring artists?
I Wannabe: These are pretty basic but that works for me.
First of all you need to understand what you want to get as an end result and more toward it.
Second is to have fun. If you do not enjoy it, then do not torture yourself.
Three is to be more focused. If you decided to finish a track then spend 30 minutes of focused work with the project, you’ll understand if you like that or not. If not then just move on.
The last one – do not listen to my tips and do whatever you want if it moves you towards your dream.
Prox: Any new artists, books, music, or movies/shows you’d like to recommend?
I Wannabe: In Kyiv and Ukraine in total we do have a pretty strong but not widely known culture in the world music scene. So I recommend to keep an eye on such artist as Sunchase and his alias Na Nich, Vero, and the label Rhythm Buro in total, Derrick & Tonika, artists of Ukrainian modular society “modular ua” Vaxoid (he’s also make his own modules as Knob Farm) and Splinter UA.
Prox: Would you like to share some information on any other upcoming projects/releases you have on the horizon?
I already finished the 4th release of Shade Of Drums which I’ll also release on vinyl.
The only digital release I’ll have in the nearest future is one track at an atmospheric drum and bass label I do love very much, but I’ll keep it secret (the label owner asked me to ☺)
Right now I’m finishing my remix EP – which will have 4 remixes by me of artist which music I love from the drum and bass scene.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
I Wannabe: Thanks for having me!! It was a huge pleasure to share with you my thoughts, memories and music. Cheers!
Be sure to show I Wannabe some love:
I Wannabe's Techno project, Shade Of Drums:
Want to stay updated on new interviews and posts? Head over to the Inside the Rift Facebook page and leave a like or follow me on Twitter @insidetheriftx, Instagram @insidetherift, and Soundcloud @Insidetherift! You can also support me by Contributing or on Patreon!