We sit down with highly-respected progressive producer, DJ, and label manager, Stan Kolev, and he offers us 60 minutes of musical pleasures with an exclusive guest mix.
You’ve been producing for over 20 years now – how did you get started, and what have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
I started playing drums at very young age, took some piano lessons and then joined a rock band when I was 13. I was the youngest in the band, everyone else were in their twenties!
I really enjoyed that period but I wanted to do more than just playing drums, and in 1994 I purchased my first laptop and discovered the program called Acid and started from there. The biggest highlight of my career is that I am doing what I LOVE – touching people with my music, travelling the world, working with talented singers and producers.
A lot of people will be familiar with your work as Casa Flava, with support from the likes of Paul Oakenfold and Hernan Cattaneo, and of course ‘De Moma De’ having already assumed a place in the progressive house canon. The project has been quiet since 2014 – have you got plans to revive it at all, or are you solely concentrating on working as Stan Kolev for the time being?
At the moment I’m concentrating on my Stan Kolev output and my new Techno alias Vincent VanDamm. Casa Flava was a great project with several big records and lots of supporters, but I am done with it. The last Casa Flava release was called ‘Earthbound’ on Outta Limits Recordings in 2016.
Can you tell us a bit about your current studio set-up? How has the process of making electronic music changed since you first got going?
I’ve changed my studio set-up quite a few times over the years. In the beginning, I was crazy about hardware synths, racks, mixers etc. In those days I was only using a keyboard, controller and software synths and plug-ins. So I got rid of all my gear because I didn’t think it makes a colossal difference any more. My current studio set-up is as follows:
1 PC Windows 7 Professional Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-2600 CPU @ 3.40GHz
2 Apple Cinema Display 23 inch
2 Mackie HR624 MK2 monitors
1 Mackie MR10Smk3 120W Subwoofer
1 KORG R3 Synthesizer/Vocoder
1 Steinberg UR28M Sound Card
1 Steinberg Cubase Pro 8
And all the best VST plug-ins money can buy
You’ve released a number of albums over the years, including most recently ‘Universe One’. Do you have any plans for another? What do you think the place for albums is in the digital download age?
Yes I’m planning to release a new Chill Out/Downtempo/Ethno Introspective World/Drum & Bass album, similar to ‘Universe One’. I think that even now in the digital download age albums still matter.
A lot of producers these days seem to shy away from featuring vocals prominently on their tracks. As your recent collaboration with Sula Mae, ‘Fill Me Up’, nicely demonstrates, your own philosophy is quite different. What do you think vocals add to a track when they work? How do you go about finding the right vocalist to work with for a project?
I love to use vocals in my music, especially if they are unique. I’ve been known to fuse Bulgarian, Indian, Arabic and world folk vocals, with electronic music. I think it adds another dimension to the instrumental. Sula Mae has a unique blend in her voice that I describe as mellow jazzy melancholy. The combination of that and any electronic music composition is unique.
We recently interviewed your Outta Limits cohort, Matan Caspi. How did you guys meet and get involved? How did the label come about?
Matan is one of my best friends. In 2010 I invited him to be a guest on my ‘Awakening’ radio show, then we did a couple of EPs together and he invited me to Kiev where he was living at that time, for the release party for one of the EPs at Club Mantra. I asked him to join the label and be my partner and he agreed. The rest is history.
You’ve been based in Miami for a long time now. How is the music scene there at the moment?
There are only two clubs in Miami that are staying true to the underground scene – Space and Story. The rest are all about bottle service, EDM and open format. Back in the day it was much better. Thank God for Europe, Asia and South America!
Which producers have had the biggest influence on your sound? And who’s currently producing music you find inspiring?
I grew up in the late 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s. Those were the eras with the best music in my opinion and that is from where I had my biggest influences. There are many current artists that I like and follow, so I don’t want to name just few.
What other releases and performances do you have planned for 2017?
I am planning to release minimum of seven releases as Stan Kolev and the same as Vincent VanDamm. As I said earlier, I’m also working on a Stan Kolev album for release in early 2018. I’m also ghost producing for 10 other artists, so it looks like a lot of studio time ahead! But I’m not complaining – I LOVE IT!
What do you do to relax when you’re not playing or making music?
Yoga, meditation, tennis, jogging, working out, and spending time with my daughter.
Current top 5 tracks?
Stan Kolev & Sula Mae – Fill Me Up (Original Vocal Mix) [Outta Limits]
Antidote – What Time Is Love (Stan Kolev Remix) [Bonzai Progressive]
Jeremy Olander – Caravelle (Original Mix) [Vivrant]
Phil Martin – Come On (Quivver Remix) [Perspectives Digital]
Nora En Pure – Diving With Whales (Daniel Portman Remix) [Enormous Tunes]
Thanks for taking the time to talk to us! ‘Fill Me Up’ is out this week on Outta Limits.
Stan Kolev Info:
Stan Kolev’s ‘Awakening’ Podcast: http://www.protonradio.com/show.php?showid=537