Music is more than just a hobby for Oleg Shmelev, it’s a way of life. Grandson to one of the most recognized saxophonist of the USSR, the esteemed entertainment professional began his decent into the industry under the guidance of his grandfather who encouraged him to pursue music education.
In 1999, Oleg was named music producer of the Miss Russia National Pageant, a position which he held until 2006. Although he enjoyed his tenure with the organization, Oleg Shmelev moved on to pursue his passion for music production, co-founding the HitMasters, the first independent music production-collective in Russia. HitMaster’s main focus was fusing an producing hit records by teaming artists with some of the industry’s top producers, composer and directors. In conjunction with HitMasters, Shmelev has spearheaded several successful projects including DEEMA, the girl group Miss Russia, and German pop boy band US5, whose music has peaked at No. 5 on the US Billboard Charts and landed in the top spot on charts in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
By 2007, Shmelev began a new business venture with partner Julia Kurbatova, creating JK Music Group, a company whose uniqueness is centered around its pairing of artists with producers.
Since being stateside here in America, JK Music has also landed a reputable collaboration with American Idol judge and Grammy-winning producer Randy Jackson and his Dream Merchant 21 label. As one of the primary executives of the company, Oleg Shmelev continues to stay at the forefront of creative operations at JK Music Group, discovering and cultivating new talent and pairing them with some of music’s best producers in order to generate monumental and timeless hit records.
THE LEVITY BALL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH OLEG:
1. What made you want to become a music producer?
It was my ultimate desire to help the talented people develop, break through. While being an executive producer of national competition “Miss Russia”, I saw a lot of competitors, and among them there were so many talented contestants. I always felt the desire to help the exceptional talent in the tough music world.
2. Who has been one of your favorite stars to work with?
Among the most distinguished producers and songwriters, it is undoubtedly Walter Afanasieff. We collaborated on a lot of interesting projects together. As far as the most favorite performers, it is the singers’ band “US 5”, which I executive produced in Germany; and the female singer Mika Newton whose debut U.S. album release is in the fall of 2013.
3. What makes your style different than those of American producers?
People in the industry tell me that I use very personalized approach to each project and I invest my heart and soul into the artist fully.
4. Which one star would you like to produce for?
5. What is your advice to others wanting to go into the music industry?
Never to enter it (joking).
But seriously – to be ready for a lot of disappointments and to enter with lots of patience; to always have belief in what you are doing and never ever give up.
6. What projects do you have coming up?
I am teaming up with the few famous American music producers to open a new company and give even more support to emerging young talents.
7. How does America compare in terms of music from where you are from originally?
U.S.A. has an established music “business” (particularly entertainment capitals, such as L.A., New York). Unfortunately, Russia in terms of music works on a different structure and it has not yet developed into a similar business approach.
I think that the U.S. has more commercial/selling approach to modern music.
In Russia, music industry business is just starting to develop and unfortunately has a long way to go still. But it is worth mentioning that the “culture” of music in Russia (classical, opera, and more) is exceptional.
8. What is one item you cannot live without?
9. If you were not a producer, what would you be doing?
I am capable of singing 12 different voices, so I would probably be singing and recording parodies.