… it's about finding your people and growing simultaneously while being interdependent on each other, it's about giving the spotlight to the unheard.
We found out about the existence of this creative individual from our previous feature Leena (@flowerleena_). And because “accidentally” make chain connections when talking to creatives, here we are presenting you Kamen! He is a music producer in his early 20’s, currently based in the area of Cornwall, UK. After our initial conversation we asked him to be as detailed as possible when answering our questions.
Because we think the stories of young creatives who are already on the road of working in their desired profession and field are TOO important not to share.
Kamen has worked on numerous projects so far with various international artists, he has created connections and work experience with a diverse number of cultures and people. And we think sharing that is vital to the (in this case) music industry here in Bulgaria (and not only).
Photography by @_anamariamolnar
Text edit: Maria Sopadzhieva
University – Where, what BA levels and why?
My passion for making music started when I was around 14-15, which gave me plenty of time to get to a certain level of production, knowing my ins and outs of the technical part of production. This was later an advantage, once I got into university and was also the reason I chose to pursue a degree in Creative Music Technology. I was already working with artists and releasing music before that and I saw the idea of university as an opportunity to fully dedicate my time and attention to making music, learning more and expanding my knowledge as well as practical skills in an environment surrounded by artists and creators. This was what I was expecting from a degree and none of the universities matched that as much as Falmouth University.
Extremely secluded from the rest of England, a 5-hour drive away from London (10 hours if you're a poor student and rely on coaches), Falmouth is a beautiful small and quiet town in Cornwall. The surroundings were breathtaking with beautiful beaches, forests, narrow roads and little shops. And that's not all, Falmouth University was fairly newly established with modern facilities and was specifically an arts university which meant all the students would be some kind of creators which sounded extremely exciting. I was hooked and decided it's the place I wanted to go to as soon as I saw it.
Now that you have graduated would you do it again in the UK?
My Bachelor's degree was in Creative Music Technology which covered everything from recording and using different microphones, preamps and mic positions to post-production, making music for movies, advertisements and games. I already knew my way around music making software and this was extremely beneficial throughout my years in university, especially in the beginning as our course was pretty detailed and complex straight from the start and it was expected of us that we already knew the basics of making music instead of being taught everything from step one.
Throughout my years there I was mostly happy with the access to the facilities and gear the university provided. Equipment that one would only see in huge professional studios of the likes of Abbey Roads. A large collection of microphones some of which worth over £10,000 and high-end studios. Having access to this made the 3 years spent there worthwhile.
From what I've heard from other postgraduates from different universities, seldomly is someone happy with their experience and what their degree provides which leads me to believe that I'm one of the few lucky ones that have gained a lot from their education and would definitely go back and do it again. The only downside was how far away Falmouth was from everything.
What people have you worked with so far? Where can we check your work and read about your projects?
Too many to name, I won't even try to name all cause I'll surely miss out on some people. As a music producer, I rarely work on music on my own, it's always a collaborative effort. The list of my main collaborators includes South African collective EMG (Elastic Music Group), the well known Bulgarian super rap group So Called Crew, Ф4 - a platform/label established by me, PARKMAN and MishMash, which has expanded its roster adding Tahoma, Da Homies and Ralitsa Tone to the mix and plans to expand further adding more artists that fit the aesthetics and characteristics of Ф4 as a brand and independent label.
Furthermore, working as a mixing engineer I am blessed with the opportunity to work with people all over the world. Just in the past 2 years, I've worked with artists from Africa, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Obviously, none of these artists are of a major status like Beyoncé or something like that, but the more I've been doing music, the more I'm realizing that the true definition of success isn't just sending off some beats to the manager of the biggest artist you can find and producing a hit with them without even talking to them, it's about finding your people and growing simultaneously while being interdependent on each other, it's about giving the spotlight to the unheard.
I don't plan my features as for me personal connection is of utmost importance and I always like to build a relationship with the person I'm producing, before we get to work. Ever since the pandemic hit, however, a goal I've set for myself is to conquer the world, build meaningful relationships with artists all over the globe and work with musicians from as many countries as possible. Being forgotten is one of my biggest fears, I've found the idea of leaving a trace all over the world super inspiring.
Best places to check my music are Spotify and Soundcloud. I like to tease my followers months before a release, so keep your eyes open at all times and you might get to hear something that nobody else would. The best place to stay updated with what's going on is definitely my Instagram where I share all new releases, podcasts, interviews, features, artists that I've discovered and a tonne more.
Recently, a topic that has been on my mind is the Work Ethic (globally and locally). What are your thoughts on this and how do you practice yours? What do you think is vital in order to work well and appreciate yourself and another people’s work? In the pre-conversation you mentioned being grateful, would you elaborate on that.
I've always been considered a workaholic because of my work ethic and productivity. None of what I do music-wise feels like work to me though! This is my passion, my way to relax and entertain myself and my way to express my feelings and emotions. Having the opportunity to do what I love for a living is so humbling so I approach my work with gratitude and try my best to not take it for granted. Of course, every job has its tedious moments, which is where discipline comes to play and is probably the most important quality of work ethic. Discipline makes the difference between a started idea and a finished project.
Since music production often involves other people and other people's ideas, a personal connection is of utmost importance when it comes to collaborations. Eliminating all barriers of "professionalism" and formalities really helps the exchange of ideas and feedback. I've found that friendly communication helps the most.
Eliminating the ego completely is also a massive key!
Many times artists think their way is the only and best way which makes the work with them frustrating and difficult. So being open to new ideas, always listening and asking for feedback makes everyone engaged in the process and the creative energy of everyone involved flow. Furthermore, ego often looks for appreciation and attention! I've had a situation in which I wrongly approached a situation by publicly outing the artist involved for not giving me the recognition I thought I deserved but hadn't received at the time. This resulted in ruining the experience we had with that song (the most successful song of our careers at the time) and completely devastating our creative and personal relationship.
Respect and love should be at the forefront of all relationships and creative ones are no exception! Respectfully suggesting ideas about ways a certain phrase can be worded or delivered are way better received than criticism. Value your time and work because if you don't, others won't either.
What do you think Bulgaria needs to develop and expand the music industry? We talked about it last time.
I could classify myself as just an observer of the Bulgarian music industry, there are way more informed and educated people on this subject and my experience is very limited. This said, I do have some strong opinions based on what I've seen… It's still a relatively new and developing field and I can't say I don't see an improvement, the Bulgarian music scene as a whole has drastically improved in the last 5 years or so. So many creative and talented people now make quality Bulgarian music that lacks nothing in comparison with music popular worldwide and it's inspiring to be a part of this Renaissance of Bulgarian music as I remember a time where music was mainly pop-folk and maybe 2-3 artists doing something different.
However, artists alone aren't enough for making the music industry. Our music industry for the most part is completely monopolized by one or two labels who own all the radios and music television channels and push only the music they decide to push. On top of that their music taste is very narrow and never up to speed with what's going on around the world even though they desperately try to seem cutting edge and innovative.
The artists they pick for their labels are also always plain and safe bets, nothing ever groundbreaking or boundary-pushing.
The main issue comes from the idea that artists in Bulgaria make music for what they think "will sell" instead of making it out of any artistic desire to express themselves creatively
and they don't realize that for the most part anything "will sell" as it's the only thing on the plate (unless you do your own research and listen to artists that aren't played on the radio or TV. Furthermore, another key issue we discussed previously is the fact that nobody in Bulgaria can make a living off releasing music alone and live concerts are the biggest source of income for a musician, which during the pandemic has proven to be incredibly unstable. Furthermore, the venues that pay the most are clubs where people rarely even care about who's on the stage.
If I had to sum it up, I'd say the Bulgarian music business is all a façade, run by people who don't care about music, performed by people who don't care about music and performed to people who don't care about music. As I said though, this is definitely changing. I don't consider myself qualified enough to talk about a better approach for the quality and value of Bulgarian music, I do think that there's things that will cultivate a better environment for artists though. We need to see more competition in terms of big labels running the show, none of the 3 major worldwide labels (Sony, Disney and Universal) has any official presence in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian music listener needs to become more critical and appreciative of the music they're being exposed to. Bulgarian artists need to stop limiting themselves to finding an audience exclusively in Bulgaria.
The stage is yours. How would you finish this?
Do everything with your heart and out of love.
Love others as yourself. Give more, take less. Don't expect too much out of nobody. Appreciate little things. Actively go out of your way to make someone smile. Doubt yourself less. Do good daily. Be patient, Rome wasn't built in a day and if you want to build an empire don't expect it to happen any quicker. There's always something to be thankful for, even in the worst moments. You are capable of so much and the only thing that's stopping you is you.
Also, a new album is coming soon!
Learn and find more about this artist on:
Nuances (Saturated) album credits:
and a lot more!