Explore IMANU's creative vision in his latest EP 'PARADISE' and his newest endeavours around sustainable fashion.
Join us as we delve into the passionate creator, IMANU’s, fascinating world of electronic music and explore the deeper essence of creativity that defines his artistry. From chance encounters to a seamless fusion of different musical styles, find out about IMANU’s captivating story and journey from his inspirations to his latest project ‘PARADISE.’
What initially drew you towards electronic music and production, and how has your relationship with music evolved over the years?
The first time I got in touch with electronic music was when I befriended my sister's friend's brother, who lived on the street next to ours. He introduced me to it, and also to Tiësto and Armin van Buuren.
It's crazy; I would love to be the person standing in front of those crowds, inspiring people. Slowly, I transitioned from house and trance to more electro-house and dubstep. Through dubstep, I discovered drum and bass. I believe that transition took about two to three years from discovering D&B. Due to Noisia, I came across their remix for Skrillex. I found it so crazy that I wanted to explore more of their work, only to find out they were Dutch as well. When listening to some of their tracks, I remember thinking, 'What is this? What am I hearing?' And yeah, that's how I got here.
Your project 'PARADISE' covers a broad range of musical types. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this mix of styles?
I try not to view genres in the way people usually do as they're mainly defined by tempo, which doesn't make sense to me. Instead, I focus on the common threads—like emotions, feelings, and physicality. Even as I work with different tempos, I’m using similar emotional depth and intensity. That's the kind of thing that makes it sound coherent even if it doesn't all have the same tempo.
'PARADISE' is a complex and diverse project. Are there any tracks that have a deeper personal significance or story behind their creation, and could you share a little about the stories behind them?
To be honest, not really. Most of my music doesn't have a deep story behind it. Rather than coming from an emotion in my head, it's more about trying to imagine an emotion and capturing that essence. I wouldn't consider myself a very emotional person, but I appreciate emotional music.
Usually, the person who feels more emotionally connected to the music is the singer I'm collaborating with. They often put a lot of emotion into their focus and lyrics. For me, I'm focused on creating something that sounds beautiful. I prefer darker, moodier tones. I'm not into making happy or upbeat music. I listen to artists like Radiohead and Lorn - really dark stuff. That's the kind of emotion I try to capture in my work too.
The name 'PARADISE' suggests a sense of utopia or idealism. Can you explain the emotions or ideas you wanted to capture in this project and how it connects to your own experiences?
I call it ‘PARADISE’, not just because of the music, but because of the tour that accompanies it. I really want you, when you come to one of these shows, to experience one of the best shows. I want to provide a unique experience and I think I attract a really good crowd, like a very understanding one.
You know, every time people come to one of my new shows, they leave with a good feeling and a good heart. And I've always had good feedback about the energy. It's almost like I want you to come to Paradise - I want you to have a great time.
Your first album, ‘UNFOLD’, was released in 2022. How do you think your style or artistry has changed since then, especially with 'PARADISE'?
I feel like my style hasn't changed that much. I still do the very musical, melodic, vocal stuff, like choruses and artwork, but I think it's more of an evolution. 'UNFOLD' was created during the pandemic, so it wasn't as focused on the dance floor as much.
‘PARADISE’ includes a few more tracks that are meant for shows, a bit harder in nature. 'UNFOLD' mainly was about softer and more experimental music. With ‘PARADISE’,' I really wanted to create tracks specifically to play my sets. I loved mixing the tracks and the two, well, the three dubstep tracks. That’s something I didn't do on 'UNFOLD'.' That album was more catered toward a listening experience, you know, I made it at home when there were no shows or clubs open. I moved back to my parents for a few months and just sat there in their attic, just making music every day. So, it was a completely different mindset compared to creating ‘PARADISE’.
Is there a specific moment in your career that you consider a turning point that has significantly changed the way you create music or think about it?
Yeah, it's funny to say that because the first thing that came to mind was definitely when I rebranded to IMANU. I realised that I wanted to make more than just the dark, deep beats I was creating. Then I discovered artists like Lauren & Sloane and SOPHIE, like this experimental, melodic, crazy music. I felt like I wanted to incorporate those inspirations into my music and then also kind of move towards Radiohead and a lot more complex and emotional music. And I thought, wow, this is it, I want to make music that will last forever, so slowly have I been going that way.
I'd say it was around 2019 - 2020, that first significant switch. Then, starting to work on 'UNFOLD' toward the end of 2020— I would say that's when everything really changed. Especially during the pandemic, once again, because of that whole mindset change that allowed me to make the album, which allowed me to evolve into what I'm doing now.
You've collaborated with many impressive artists. Is there a dream collaboration you'd like to pursue in the future, and what draws you to these potential collaborators?
Definitely the first that comes to mind is Skrillex. He's the first artist I'd love to collaborate with as he's one of my biggest inspirations, not just in music but also in the way he DJs and sets up his events. It feels organic and less about big productions but more about having a great time at a show and spontaneously announcing, 'Hey, I'm doing a show here tomorrow!'
Of course I'd love to work with Radiohead, but that's kind of impossible. It's just a completely different world.
There's also this band called Sleep Token, an experimental metal band from the UK. They're so good. I'm happy to know that the drummer is a fan of mine. I love working with people who create very different music from me because that fusion often leads to very nice stuff.
What's the main message you want people to feel through your music, and how do you hope it connects with your audience?
Well, definitely one thing I try to convey is that you don't need everything to be in the same tempo. You can flow through tempos as long as you keep it consistent in synth work and emotional content. I really want to create a world where there is dark and beautiful music with pretty vocals. I love to have big musical sections in my music, not just everything being about going off on a dance floor or something. The mixture between the hard and the soft; the beautiful and the dark.
Apart from music, you've entered the sustainable streetwear world with your own brand, 14SAINTDENIS. How does your music experience influence your fashion, and what can we expect from your brand in the future?
I'd say the brand and the music are similar in the sense that the clothing is also very dark and moody, and mainly black. It's not really focused on hype or big brands, or statements. It's a brand that I have together with my friend Cynthia Liu. We just try to make clothing that is going to last for years and years, focusing on organic growth rather than following trends. We’re just trying to express our own style and hoping it connects with people.
We just launched a few months ago and for our next collection we have collaborated with some artists who are providing us with drawings. It's going to be quite a dark, beautiful horror theme with sketches, drawings and paintings. I'm really looking forward to it. We've just started sampling it.
For the clothes, we've sourced really good ethical and recycled fabrics. For example, our buttons are made from recycled bottle tops, which I think is really cool. So, everything is made by us from scratch - we choose everything from the yarn to the way it's woven, the shapes and the cuts.
It's been good to have another creative outlet because if I get stuck with the music, I can work with Cynthia on designs or ideas and that's been great. It's really fun and I think I get a lot of great feedback for it.
© 14SAINTDENIS via Instagram
Stay tuned for more immersive experiences, both in music and sustainable fashion, as IMANU continues to craft a world where creativity knows no bounds.