I think it’s fair to say that you are a very versatile producer within the drum & bass genre and your Case File showcase will definitely confirm that when everyone listens. There’s depth, darkness, liquid, autonomic, then minimal stripped back rollers. Lots of variety! Do you have a preferred style at 170 bpm or is it more about the vibe at the time?
It’s easier to say which style at 170 bpm I don’t like. Every music has its own magic: specific vibe, atmosphere, harmonies. For me it always depends on possibility to be open-minded and my current mood of course. I like everything from halftime tracks to old school drum & bass, from minimalistic techstep drum patterns to complex drumfunk drum progressions, from atmospheric pads to aggressive basslines.
I’m not a huge fan of neurofunk and big room tracks which all sound the same to me. I do like some tracks from those genres but the exception proves the rule.
Having an open mind in regards to all styles of d&b must keep things fresh and exciting when starting a new track right?
I never actually thought about that. When I start from scratch with some loop or melody then I can change the drum pattern to fit that most. I can vary the tempo from 160 up to 174 and feel which tempo gives the better vibe and that’s the starting point for the track. But sometimes I can change such things when I add new elements or make significant changes in a track. Then I get back to the loop and change the tempo/drum patterns and then spread all those changes to the whole track.
In regards to tempo you are certainly not just about d&b, you make a range of other style too right?
Under my alias “I Wannabe” I produced dubstep and future garage tracks the most after drum & bass tracks, but 7 years ago I focused to produce strictly drum & bass for this alias and started a new one – Shade Of Drums for techno with which I did a couple vinyl and digital releases.
Last year I started one more alias – my real name Andrey Sirotkin for “other music” , but I understood that I have no time to manage all those 3 aliases and asked myself what music drives me the most? The answer was: drum and bass and techno. So I decided to do the logical step: close Shade Of Drums and continue to release techno with Andrey Sirotkin cause I have more pleasure to hear and see my real name then an alias.
How do you delegate time between “I Wannabe” and “Andrey Sirotkin” production sessions?
It’s all about mood, but I do have plans for releasing music. For example, I know that I need 3 more tracks for a drum & bass EP and work to finish that. Once the EP is done I turn to work on techno stuff. But I always make short breaks and try to do sketches for new tracks. Sometimes those little sessions turn into hours of working and making 60% of a track at once.
Can you take us back to the beginning and give the listeners an insight in your background as a producer and where the journey began?
I was born, raised and live in Kyiv. I started to listen to the music from 4 y.o. Of course that was shitty music that was allowed in USSR. But my first true love was a group called Space – the symbiosis of synthesizer and live drums.
In my youth right after the USSR collapsed in Ukraine we started to receive new music, the ones we never heard before, so my journey through the styles began. I started from hip-hop to rap-core and metal music. Then I found electronic music and checked all available genres, and then I found drum & bass. My first track was E-Z Rollerz – “Meatball” in 2000. That was the moment when I fell in love until now.
As a music lover it must have been pretty amazing receiving new and fresh sounds post-USSR disbanding right? Also what music did you have access to while growing up under the USSR rule?
Well 95% of that music was from the artists inside the USSR. If it was funk then it was not the original funk but the funk which was produced in the USSR. So I had Russian disco and other disco-like dance music, of course there was no house or even the possibility of classic drum machines like Roland’s 808 and 909. The other thing was synthesizer based “instrumental” music, I mean without the vocals or those which didn’t look like “classic” songs – Space, Zodiac and other tracks I found at compilations.
You touched on some of the new styles you discovered briefly but can you give us more detailed insight into your musical inspirations and loves once the USSR disbanded?
Now I just can laugh at what kind of music I listened those days! I started from europop and eurodance, but even the pop music sounded cool cause it was different.
With enjoying quite a broad spectrum of electronic music in regards to what you produce, could you pinpoint a style that you may enjoy the most?
I don’t. I always have playlists sorted by genres and before I open them I ask myself, “what do I feel about listening to music right now? Do I want to listen to some chill or ambient music to relax or do I want to listen to listen to some techno to do my monotone job, or do I want to discover something new?” The answer leads me to music I enjoy the most at the moment.
How about the studio set up? Talk us through the equipment.
I’m a PC user and huge Cubase fan for 10 years. I used FL Studio (it was called Fruity Loops at that time), Reason, Ableton Live and Pro Tools, but for me the best option for production and sound quality is still Cubase.
Besides software I use hardware: Virus, Prophet, and Korg R3. From time-to-time I borrow different synths, drum machines, and other stuff to mess around and record as much as possible. I can get back to those recordings in a couple years and use them in tracks.
The separate chapter in hardware is my modular system. I use it with Arturia Beat Step Pro as a master clock/sequencer. For drum & bass it’s almost always about using the cuts from records but also I use the whole sequences from there. The best example is my free track “Very Pleased Man” with whole acid 303 baselines recorded from my AcidLab Autobot + x0x heart voice.
Wannabe – “Very Pleased Man”
On the other side I’m a huge fan of sampling. I have an MPC 1000 as hardware and NI Kontakt as software for that purpose. For surgical changes in samples and deleting noise I use Adobe Audition.
Besides the samples from synthesizers I also get samples from everywhere I can. Most things are vinyl and searching the internet. It can be specialized sites where people share recordings by themselves or non-commercial videos and audio where I can contact the owner and ask him to use his stuff.
I also had an experiment with recording sounds with the mic outside of the studio. As the result I produced the track “Waste Oil”. I want to make another session but I still use sounds from that one.
I Wannabe – Waste Oil
What about your creative flow? Do you have designated time to make music? Also do you find it easy to get into the zone when you’re in the studio?
I listen to music almost all the time so It’s very easy to get inspired and go to the studio, but I don’t have so much free time for that as I have a day job, family – wife and daughter, sports and time to rest from all that. So for me it’s a struggle to find the time for studio.
I visit my studio after the workday in specific weekdays or on the weekend. I always have to know what to do there cause I have loads of projects to finish.
Looking at your discography there’s a long list of different labels you’ve released on. Can you talk us through how you personally go about connecting with labels and getting your music signed?
As I have very different music it’s a big problem to release music cause for almost every release I have to find a list of labels which fit my music and then I just send music to them. So it’s always a struggle.
My goal for the nearest year is to deal with one label which will share my vision of music so we can think about the release strategy and I can focus more on production not management.
Can you explain what made you decide to call yourself “I Wannabe”?
Well, the main idea was to have the artist name and track title which you can read as one sentence.
I Wannabe – “Loved Again” = I wannabe loved again.
I Wannabe – “Proud Of Myself” = I wannabe proud of myself.
I Wannabe – “Superstitious” = I wannabe superstitious.
But after some time I found that I’m very limited with track titles, they all look the same and are very predictable. Also, I can describe the idea of track with them, so I decided to cancel that rule.
What can we expect from you moving forward in 2020?
On April 22nd an EP of remixes made by me will be released. Also, there are at least two separate remixes will be released on two remix albums. I also have 2 EP’s signed to different labels and for one more I have signed 75% of the tracks. Two more collaboration tracks are in progress. I’m also thinking about making my album in the nearest year or so. I hope to include on it some non-drum & bass track but those which fans of I Wannabe’s sound will definitely like.
For my techno alias Andrey Sirotkin I’m waiting for my tracks to appear on two different compilations this autumn, and I continue to work on my next solo EP.
I know all that’s very indefinably but all things change with hyperspeed so here’s the plan, and for the result we’ll see when it actually happens.
What can we expect from you moving forward in 2020?
Besides those six remixes I already released this year there will be two more 🙂 I hope both will be released before the end of the year, Also there will be two more EPs – one will be released at the end of the summer and a super challenge for me – the album! I already produced 4 tracks and need to finish all those to get the album done.
For my techno alias Andrey Sirotkin I’m waiting my tracks to appear on two different compilations this autumn and I continue to work on my next solo EP – this one will be produced only with modular synthesiser, Also I have two more collaboration in the works and hope to gather them in separate EP.