We speak to Spartaque as he returns to his IAMT label with a new ‘Close Your Eyes’ track.
Vitalii Babii, aka IAMT label owner Spartaque, has been championing his take on the techno sound for well over a decade now, making a concentrated effort to carve his own definitive path in the electronic music landscape. Hailing from Ukraine, the tenacious musician is wholly dedicated to his craft, with heavy touring and an ever-flourishing discography to match. With an early interest in house music at the age of 16, it was only a matter of time before he began to hone in on his passion. Reaching a pivotal point in 2007, he was chosen by Virus Music after winning a mixing contest to perform at the Ukrainian Global Gathering, the country’s first music festival.
This opened many a-door for the accomplished talent, and set a precedent for the upward trajectory of his career both in the studio and behind the decks. Proficiently polished through and through, Spartaque’s unparalleled knack for producing intensely raw and organic techno is few and far between in the modern dance music domain, as he now stands as one of the most influential figures on the circuit.
We spoke to IAMT label-head Spartaque in-depth, ahead of the release of ‘Close Your Eyes’ on March 5th.
Hi, Vitalii! How are you doing? Welcome to 6AM! Glad to talk to you! How did you start your day?
Hello! Thank you for inviting me for this interview! I really love your media and I will be happy to answer your questions. My day started as usual. The alarm clock rang at 7:30 and I started to get my daughter ready for school. Then I had a meeting with my teammates from Barcelona to discuss our labels’ business. Also I had a call with Andrea Signore. We were discussing the development strategy of his Made in Brussels label which our IAMT team manages. Then we were listening to the demos for a few hours. And now I am glad to start a conversation with you.
You are Ukrainian, but living in Spain. What were the main reasons to move? And why did you choose Barcelona?
It’s true, I’m from Ukraine and I have been living in Barcelona for almost 4 years. The main reason for me and my family to move was mobility difficulties. It was very hard for me to have frequent flights from Kyiv, frequent passport controls at the borders with the European Union and difficult flight connections. I had to spend most of my time at the airports or on planes and it made me and my family feel stressed.
When we decided to move to Europe, we were thinking about different European cultural capitals such as Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam… but since my agency was in Barcelona and I already fell in love with the climate, open-minded people, food and the light mood in the Spanish air, we decided to move here and we did not make a mistake. Barcelona is a beautiful place where all the good things are gathered in one compact city.
Can you tell us more about the electronic music scene in Ukraine and Spain? What are their main differences?
It’s difficult to highlight the differences… perhaps the most important thing for me is that the electronic music market in Spain is already well-formed. There are many companies, promoters, club owners who have been doing this business for several generations of their families. Living in Ukraine, I rarely played on the local scene during the recent years, performing more abroad, but I can definitely say that the Ukrainian scene is developing very well, it’s much younger and more open.
Communicating with my colleagues from Europe, I have heard many good reviews on what’s happening now in Ukraine, on the other hand, it’s much more profitable for me as an artist to live in Barcelona. I can definitely say that the Ukrainian and Spanish club scenes have enormous potential, here and there people meet a DJ with great warmth and incredible emotions. And it’s a great pleasure to perform both in Ukraine and Barcelona, and the only difference I see is that everything happening in Ukraine now is the work of the first generation of promoters. But I have no doubt that such great dynasties of club culture figures as Spanish will be formed in Ukraine too.
The industry has gone through a tough year. How did it impact you? It was a bad year or a year of new experience?
When we raised our glasses together with my wife on New Year’s night saying goodbye to 2020 we looked at each other and said: ‘This year was not so bad’.
2020 has definitely been a terrible year for the music industry. This was evident not only in the absence of concerts for the artists, but also the artists began to invest less in advertising and this has long-term consequences. I think a lot of things will change when the world will get back to its normal routine. But so far I cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.
For me personally, this pandemic showed me that I can survive doing not only gigs, but developing my business. And frankly, I fear that I wouldn’t want to get back to such a tight gig schedule as before the pandemic. I understood how valuable is the time spending with my family, I don’t want to miss my daughter’s growth. Also, I understand now that I have a great team and together we can build something much bigger than just an artist Spartaque.
Tell us more about IAMT Music group and the team behind Spartaque.
Firstly, I’d like to say that we have a great team, we don’t have outsiders. And I believe everyone enjoys his work in IAMT. My big dream is to turn it into a major label one day, but there are a lot of ups and downs, a lot of mistakes and a lot of lessons on our way we will have to learn and I really love it.
Part of our team works in Barcelona, another part in different cities in Ukraine, we don’t have one office, but we do a great job working remotely. Each person independently forms his/her tasks and daily routine based on the area of his/her responsibility. My job is a regular balancing and checking if everything is okay and if there are any problems, how can I be useful at the moment, and of course the demos for techno labels.
I always study. Recently I attended the course on Human Resources management. Studying and reading the books I can learn a lot of useful information, so I keep learning every day and try to promote this idea to my team.
How many labels do you currently manage? Could any label engage with IAMT Music? And what do you provide?
We manage 11 labels for now and we will start a few more with our partners soon. I can’t name them now but soon we will post this information on our Social Media pages. We started with Codex, then we revived IAMT and then had Area Verde. This figure has already tripled.
Generally, any label can start working with us. We provide strategic development planning, management, contracts, SMM, communication with artists and distribution. Our job is to help an artist (label’s owner) to forget about problems with the deadlines, social media, downloading, an email chain. We assume all the difficulties and expect only doing the A&R work and being the face of the label.
We always keep promoting our assets, such as Spotify playlists, YouTube channels and our own media. So our partners get access to all of these platforms. Our knowledge and skills are updated every day and we are happy to share it with artists working with us.
What would be your advice to those willing to release on your labels? What’s your main requirement for the artists?
Actually, the most important advice for the artists is to follow the rules from our IAMT Music Group website:
⁃ Send SoundCloud secret links only.
⁃ All tracks must be gathered into the one secret playlist.
⁃ Do not send more than 5 best tracks you have.
⁃ We never reply the emails with only the link inside and no text. Don’t be lazy, describe yourself and your music. Blank e-mails annoy me. I get the impression that a person doesn’t respect me and my label if it’s too difficult for them to write me a few words about themselves, about the previous releases and labels and why they want to release their music on our label.
I always do my best to reply to each letter I receive from artists, I know exactly how it feels to wait for weeks. And even worth, when you don’t get any answer at all. So in our case, everything is easy enough. Send your demos following the rules and I will be happy to listen to them and will do my best to reply as fast as I can.
Your new release “Close Your Eyes” will be out soon on IAMT. How would you describe the track? What inspired you to create it?
Though I said that I was thinking to reduce the number of the gigs for its quality, that doesn’t mean I don’t miss the raves and the incredible feeling when you are among the crowd of dancing people and together closing your eyes you are enjoying this magic happening at the party.
When the new track was ready, I thought that it would be great to add the vocal which would do the track more unique and catchy. I decided to be inspired by my memories. I closed my eyes remembering the party in summer 2019, when together with my wife we got to Carl Cox’s Resistance party at Privilege Ibiza. Though we had the backstage tickets we went to the crowd and danced there all night. I didn’t want this party ended. That is what gave me the idea to write the lyrics: Close Your Eyes and hold my hand. Just till the end. That is what I want and miss so much. And I think not only me. So feel the rhythm and vibration and imagine yourself at the party, dancing among the crowd behind your favorite DJ. And believe that soon your dream will come true!
What are your future plans as an artist and businessman?
I’m happy that my plans as an artist are closely related to my business plans. I would like to widen the circle of my contacts. We have great prospects for developing and I would like to have more artists with interesting labels and good tracks. I also want to attend different music conferences. Hope it will be possible soon in 2021. I miss the real-life communications, fun at the backstage, meetings with our potential clients and business partners. I know that I’ll do my best for networking and I am sure it will be very valuable for me as an artist and businessman.
Thank you for the interview! It was an interesting talk. Do you have any special words or advice for our readers?
Thanks for inviting me for this interview, it’s always a pleasure for me to answer interesting questions. I know exactly that there are many musicians and electronic music lovers among your readers. I would like to wish both of them to be patient. Musicians shouldn’t give up and keep producing their music, inspiring people with their work.
As for the listeners, they should keep supporting their favorite artists, write them messages and comments on social media, support them during their streams on YouTube and Facebook. Musicians are going through a difficult time now but together we will overcome it. Thank you for listening the electronic music and hope soon we will be here again!
Warm hugs from Barcelona!