How did you get started? Tell us your story!
I was born in Krasnodar Russia, on the west side near Ukraine and the Black Sea. I came up with parents who listened to and participated in singing classical music. My taste in music varies from pop (my favorite to mix) to hip hop, rock, RnB, classical, jazz, and so on. I started creating music because...well, sometimes you just know what you’re made for. I’ve never thought of being anything but a musician/engineer, it just didn’t seem logical. I had my time on stage with a few bands and we did a couple of tours, but I ultimately decided (after recording at Virtuo Studios) that being in the control room as the engineer is what I wanted to do.
I love music because of the emotions it inspires and helps one work through. Especially when you’re not sure what emotions you’re experiencing, but you need something to capitalize on it. Whether you’re happy or sad or angry, music always has a way of speaking to those emotions. I started engineering because of the feeling I get when I’m mixing. It’s not like anything in the world when I start hearing a song come to life. I get lost in it and realize hours have gone by without skipping a beat.
I suppose everyone gets that feeling from something, and mike was from mixing. I also enjoy helping an artist build their music in recording sessions. They have a vision, a dream, and I have ways to accentuate it and help make it become a reality. I began taking music seriously at my internship at Soul Asylum Studios. The owner one day told me that the industry is very difficult, and you must be strong to make it. So, either get with the program or leave the program behind.
Since then, I’ve always strived to prove that I have what it takes. I realized that I could make some real moves in this industry when I found myself doing rough mixes for the likes of Camila Cabello and recording Mya and Akon (whom I idolized growing up.) As I grew, I realized how much attention to detail and striving perfection that success takes, and I loved it; being so precise about my work. I also realized I was making some good progress I found myself having a casual conversation with Leslie Brathwaite, him showing me through one of his mixes that I recorded, and even giving me the session to look over. It was surreal.
What is your experience in the music industry? Do you have any formal training or schooling? If not, are you self-taught and how did you learn your craft? What is your learning style? What are your favorite educational resources (ex. college, YouTube, etc.)?
I do have formal training at the Atlanta Institute of Music & Media where I studied for an Associates' degree in Audio Post Production. That school taught me how to use the equipment that I’d be in contact with, but no one can teach you how to listen and what you like and don’t like. That’s all your taste and talent. After attending, I went to my first internship at Soul Asylum Studios with Rafael Capone where I’m certain I got the best introduction to the industry that I could with the best training possible. He taught me about the importance of setting the vibes in a session, being professional, confident, as well as being efficient and precise. From there, it’s all been experience. Real-world experience has taught me so much, and I’m thankful for all of it. In every session I run, I always run it as if it’ll be the last session I ever have because if I don’t do my best, there’ll always be someone else out there who is more than happy to take my place. I also never believe I’ve learned enough about my craft. If I were to use a learning medium, it would be YouTube. I tend not to copy the YouTubers' techniques, but more how they think about the mix, and how many people use what method(s).
What are some credits and achievements that you have? Who have you worked with? Who have you collaborated with?
My more impressive credits are rough mixing for Camila Cabello, and recording for the likes of Akon, Mya, Mase, Jacquees, Malachiae, King Buck, etc. I also engineer for producer Drumma Boy as needed and am teamed up with Renzy808 at his new recording studio.
Who are your biggest influences growing up and why? Who do you like to listen to now and why? Who’s on your playlist right now?
My biggest influences vary depending on what we’re speaking of. Growing up, producer Scott Storch has always impressed me with his music and work ethic. As well, Dr. Dre and Diddy for the same reasons. Now, I look up to mixing engineers Manny Marroquin and Serban Ghenea, two people who I consider to be the best pop mixing engineers out there. I always strive to create mixes more appealing than them. They’re sound is so crystal clear, crispy, and full. On my Spotify I have very many playlists, it consists of a variety of different musicians. I don’t listen by artist, but more by song. If I listen to a new playlist and the songs speak to me, I add them to my own and keep it moving. On the Pop side, I have some Demi Lovato (such a powerful voice), Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Camila Cabello Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Post Malone, Charlie Puth, Asia (absolutely love her songwriting and vocal power and even the emotion she puts in her vocal performances), and Jason Derulo. My hip hop playlist consists of Snoop Dogg, DJ Khalid, J Cole, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, Yelawolf, Eminem, Drake, and some Kanye. Then my reggae playlist contains Chronixx, Collie Buddz, Damian Marley, Bob Marley, Popcaan, and Protoje. Of course, these are just a few of the people I listen to. I’ve left out so many. I like to listen to everything. Good music is not within only one genre. Good music is everywhere.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered or faced in this industry?
My biggest obstacle is my ego and confidence. Thinking, “I already know this, I can’t learn anything from this,” or “I’m beyond this level, I don’t need to do this.” I put my ego in check a long time ago, but sometimes I still have to remind myself that I’m not perfect and there are plenty other engineers out there that are great competition. My confidence as well, watching engineers who don’t put as much care into their mixes working more than I, or having more success than I have. I have to remind myself that we all have different paths in life and that it’s not appropriate to compare myself. There’s plenty of music and success out there for anyone who puts their mind to it and works hard enough. The biggest obstacle is my will. When I get down and think, “maybe I should just quit and get a day job.” Those days come here and there, and when they do come, they hit hard. Just always have to remind myself that (my favorite quote, I don’t know who said it, but I know I say it), “the difference between the successful and unsuccessful is one more attempt past where the last guy gave up.” I also remind myself (also love this quote, the same situation as before, I don’t know who said it, but I know I say it), “The universe will try to hold you back when you’re doing great things; the right things.”
How would you describe your sound and style?
That’s a good question. Everyone’s music speaks differently. I always strive for having a large, wide mix, regardless of the song. I suppose I mix in a “pop” mindset regardless of what song it is. Clarity, warmth, smoothness, and overall, emotion. I do what the song needs, and to figure out what the song needs, I listen to what the song says to me. In a figurative and literal sense. Songs speak vibes and energy, and it’s so much fun giving those vibes and energies a megaphone or putting a magnifying glass on them.
What are some of your goals this year?
My goals this year are to continue sustaining my own life with my music career. As well, move more into mixing than recording. I’m currently also working with a new pop artist, named Karter, whom I believe in very deeply. We’re working on breaking him out and getting him a present and that’s a lot of fun too. Strategizing, figuring out what the right methods are for his success.
Who are the top 3 artists, producers, engineers, videographers, or others you would want to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?
Top producers I’d like to work with are Dr. Dre, Scott Storch and Timbaland. Engineers? Serban Ghenea, Manny Marroquin, and Jimmy Douglas. Artists I’d love to work with are Adele, Demi Lovato, Eminem, and Celine Dion, just to name a few.
What is your creative process like?
That’s another good question. It depends. Before a recording session, I always try to catch the vibe that history is being made. Regardless of how big the session is. You never know what people are capable of. When I get to the studio, I always play some music to get vibey, have a cup of hot tea (lemon tea), and refine my templates to get in the zone of moving around ProTools. In a mix, I like to listen to music beforehand, get up and dance a little, maybe watch something funny to put me in a zone, get the lights right, and most importantly, I always try to have my car Samson and dog Libby by my side. They’re a great source of good energy.
What’s your favorite go-to order?
I will never get tired of 2 things. Firstly, Meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Next, a Subway 12” BLT on Italian herbs and cheeses with cheddar cheese, toasted crispy-like, lettuce and tomato (I don’t know why I always have to request this, come on, it’s a BLT), lots of onions, a little green pepper, 1 line of honey mustard, regular amount of mayonnaise, then just salt and vinegar. Yes, it’s a science. Yes, I get it every time I go to Subway. No, I will not share, haha.