A Designer of Music: Vladimir Atamanenko

A Designer of Music: Vladimir Atamanenko

Vladimir Atamaneko is a man behind the music, always tinkering with the microphone or amp to ensure the performer and audience have the strongest connection—the strongest sound. “It’s not the music,” he says, “it’s the design.” 

Tall with thick wispy white hair, playful eyes, and plenty of laugh lines, you always know when you have met Vlad, as his friends call him. Before he gets around to introducing himself, he’s ready with a joke. 

Vlad’s lifelong passion for music began decades ago and across the world. In 1967, Vlad formed rhythm-blues band INDEKSY as a singer and guitar player. INDESKY would play small gigs on the outskirts of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, performing songs from the Beatles, Tom Jones, Joe Cocker, Pink Floyd and Arthur Brown. They went on to win a local competition by performing a song by The Beatles, despite that Beatles music was prohibited in the Soviet Union and the jury consists from communist "apparatchiks."

Vlad discovered sound production through being a musician. Like a singer learns his voice to elevate his sound, Vlad did the same with the equipment, making modifications and fine-tuning custom designs. Soon he was doing more sound design than singing. 

 Vlad worked sound production at Oktyabrsky (1976-1980) and Youth Palace (1980-1985), concert halls in Leningrad. He managed the sound for every concert, movie, or radio show that crossed the stage. Eventually, he was providing sound production to all of the performers in Leningrad, even to bands in Russia’s underground rock scene. In the 1980s, strict censorship meant alternative music, the music of protest, wasn’t government sanctioned in the communist Soviet Union. Music and instruments had to be smuggled in and out of the country, by rock lovers like Joanna Stingray. Vlad gave the artists of this movement equipment and a platform, even though it brought trouble from the communist government. It meant more than just helping them sound good; his equipment helped legitimize renegade performers. 

He was the first producer in USSR who brought the underground rock groups to huge stadiums and sport complexes. He worked with bands like DDT, ALISA, TELEVIZOR, Auktsion, Object Nasmeshek, Blues Mobile Band from the Georgia Republic and many others. These renegade performers became youth idols. Their songs played a pivotal role in preparing people’s minds and souls for the crash of communism. He began touring with Russian and foreign artists like Elton John around the country, even putting on the first charity concert in Kiev, despite initial pushback from the KGB. He also organized the first jam sessions between Russian and American blues musicians on the Palace Square, Saint-Petersburg square in 1990.

Later in the 1990s, Vlad immigrated to the United States. He landed in Philadelphia but moved to California and started a sound equipment company with his business partner. He arrived just as music exploded in technology and industry. As technology grew smaller and faster, profits grew larger. However, modern music technology has proven to decrease audio quality. Music is now a commodity, and as Vlad sees it, the quality of sound has suffered. He likens it to the rise of commercialized food production. The food industry churns out goods to feed billions, but we all know that processed foods are a far cry from the fresh food of a farm stand. Music is now more processed, digitization adding more steps between the source and the listener’s ear. Vlad wished to fix that by bringing the same artistry musicians put into their performances into the technology. Unfortunately, his business partner passed away suddenly. Left with a warehouse of inventory, Vlad managed to ship his sound equipment back east to begin anew. 

In Philadelphia, he found the Multicultural Arts Exchange. He continues his work with sound production in the arts community throughout Philadelphia. He brings his love of life and music to every Multicultural Arts Exchange event he works on. Most of the time, it means bringing his signature touch to the sound design. But on the rare occasions when he emerges from backstage, it is clear he is a man comfortable in the spotlight, bending willing ears to learn about his designs, giving impromptu singing lessons, or simply dancing whenever he hears music. He is always listening for not only music but the design.   

Sources:

“Joanna Stingray – the woman who smuggled punk rock out of the USSR” by Marc Bennet, The Guardian 

“Declining Audio Quality In Music” by Mark Starlin The Medium.

Share this Post:

Guests Have Said

  • “It has been a great pleasure to work with Multicultural Arts Exchange! I enjoyed the company of the organizers - Michael Zorich and his team. Thank you very much for sharing the gift of the brilliant music performance with people. Thanks to you it is affordable and amazing!”
    Vlad Pochepinski
  • "I was lucky to attend a concert in Northeast Philadelphia in a synagogue Shaare Shamayim to see 'Three Tenors' in their tribute to the legendary Maria Lanza. I personally got a great inspiration from an exclusive selection of favorite areas and popular Italian music as from beautiful academic singers. The audience was excited and did not want to leave the hall! Everyone, including myself, is so grateful to Michael Zorich, who organized such a special concert."
    Ella Lomazova
  • “Had a great time on Saturday 9/9 at the opera dinner at Melody Restaurant. Great people running MAE and fantastic singers with Opera on Tap. First time at Melody restaurant and I thought the food was GREAT!”
    Daniel Pantano
  • “I was with my family at the concert yesterday. We all had so much fun. Thanks to the organizers for a wonderful concert! The performance has surpassed all my expectations and left a lasting impression!”
    Natalia Glick
  • “Four of us enjoyed Justin Gonzalez's beautiful voice, his touching stories and great song selection. Even my husband, who only has place for rock in his soul, liked it a lot. Thank you for organizing the concert. Look forward to more events like that!”
    Paulina Korchagin

Ready for a Show?

We would love to talk to you about purchasing tickets, memberships, or volunteering for an event.

tickets

Tickets

Get tickets to your favorite events at an affordable price ahead of time to reserve your seat.

GET TICKETS
lanyard

Membership

Subscribers receive early access and savings on tickets to our events which will be mailed to you.

SIGN UP
volunteer

Volunteering

Providing customer service or help behind the scenes, volunteers play an essential role at Multicultural Arts Exchange.

855-334-9033

Support Our Community

If you are supporting our vision to make Northeast Philadelphia a great cultural destination, please, donate as much (or as little) as you can by clicking on the "Donate" button. Our fiscal sponsor Fractured Atlas will happily process your gift and you will be rewarded by a richer cultural experience right where you live!

Donate