One of the biggest hits of the last year was the Imanbek remix of SAINt JHN’s 2016 track Roses. The official audio has garnered over 235 million views on Youtube to date, with the music video racking up a further 146 million views. Despite being released mere months before a worldwide lockdown, depriving people the chance to really vibe to it in the clubs, the tune became an instant hit and has been recognised as such, winning Best Remixed Recording at the 2021 Grammy Awards. But who is the man behind the award-winning remix?
Imanbek, full name Imanbek Zeikenov, is from Aksu, a small town in the North East of Kazakhstan. He grew up studying and working on the railway, even working as a signalman at Aksu railway station before becoming more involved in music production. He discovered Roses by American-Guyanese rapper SAINt JHN in 2019, and released his remix shortly after on the Russian social network Vkontakte. Imanbek never actually received permission from SAINt JHN before releasing his version of the track: he stated in an interview that he tried to message the rapper on Instagram to ask for permission, but didn’t receive a reply.
The remix began top charts throughout Europe, which in turn led to the original version gaining popularity, appearing on the Billboard charts in many countries in 2019 despite being recorded back in 2016. Imanbek’s remix was officially released as a track in September 2019 and immediately gained huge popularity on social networks such as Snapchat and TikTok; in the month of April 2020 alone, the song reached a massive 4.5 billion plays on TikTok.
Since the huge success of the Roses remix, Imanbek has gone on to work with big names including Marshmello and David Guetta, and most recently released a collaborative EP with Rita Ora.
On 14th March 2021, Imanbek became the first person from Kazakhstan to win a Grammy Award. We hope that Imanbek’s story will alert people to the immense musical talent of artists and producers from countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States such as Kazakhstan and Russia.
Find out more about some of the region’s biggest artists at the moment: