I don’t want to drop the ‘C’ bomb, but if there is one thing that COVID has given us, it’s time. Some used that time for personal growth, some (like me) watched their waistbands grow (only to swiftly return to the gym the minute Boris gave the green light) and some spent their time honing skills, learning new ones, or both.
Enter Jean Singer, aka En:vy, the Austrian producer & DJ who can add his name to the cohort of fresh, hungry & talented artists swarming the drum and bass scene at the moment. The latest addition to the Flexout Audio family, En:vy released his debut EP ‘Push Through’ last month, featuring four energetic tracks, each encompassing his experimental take on production & sound design.
While most would be basking in the glory of their debut & taking some time off, En:vy is already planning his next moves and doesn’t have a minute to waste. I caught up with him about his recent release, his time in Bristol, covert international collaborations & his experience as a professional Ice Hockey player…
So let’s jump straight in…it’s undeniable that 2020 so far has been a complete shit show. As an artist, and from a personal perspective, how are you dealing with the current state of affairs?
At the start, it was ok. I was here with my roommate Jakob and the question was, whether to go back to Austria or stay in Bristol. I decided to stay because I wanted to finish my EP at the time, and I’d just finished a lot of music and shit, plus uni was still going on and I was just here by myself until my uni colleague Boris joined me. After that, we were just here together isolating and making music.
The main thing I missed was the social interaction. Everyday shit was pretty hard, like missing out on going into uni at least once a day and having a normal school life. It was a weird one. My first year in Bristol, living in the Drum & Bass mecca and not having any parties to go out too, or be able to meet other people. Musically it didn’t really affect me too much, I mean it’s getting harder now, because I took a break from making music while I was back in Vienna this summer. Now I’m coming back to it fresh, even though you still can’t go out and test your tunes on a soundsystem and see the reactions of the crowd, but it is what it is I guess…..
I think that’s probably the catchphrase of 2020. You mentioned Bristol as the drum and bass mecca. COVID aside, what’s your experience of the city so far?
I’ve really enjoyed my first six months in Bristol, it’s got some really good vibes, like Collective for example. Bristol is a party city, it’s a student city, so it’s cool and vibrant. It’s different from Vienna, but I think that has to do with the English mentality. Going out to places like the Trinity Centre for Sofa Sound was crazy, the Sinai sound system…jheez. It’s just nice seeing that there’s a lot of top tier producers here, getting to know them, and finding out that most of them are really good, down to earth people. It’s also really cool bumping into people like DLR in the city centre haha. It gets you really motivated to do drum and bass here….and that was always the plan.
What about your online community, have you found it has grown through isolation, or have you taken a step back and been less interactive?
I’ve been way more active online with a lot of people. There’s been huge support from people noticing the EP too, people like Arkaik, Amoss, Kyrist, the QZB guys, Black Barrel, Buunshin, Halogenix, IMANU, Fre4knc – and all the people on Discord. Hyroglifics, for example, who got me the opportunity to play on RINSE FM for Critical, which was crazy. Funnily enough, I’ve never met him, even though we are both now based in Bristol, he just asked me and I found it really sick that he asked me to do that. My personal profile online has also grown for sure and getting more engagement from people in the scene who’ve seen that I’m now living here, and trying to get my foot in the door and see where this goes.
There’s definitely been a lot of noise around your recent EP debut – ‘Push Through’. Congratulations! How does it feel to have your first full release out?
Thank you! It’s my first EP so it’s the first real project with four tracks, and it has been a huge thing for me. With this EP I just wanted to show what styles you can expect from me – from borderline minimal jumpup to rolling deep to soulful drum and bass and maybe some 140. Having the trust of Tom (Flexout) and Pete (Arkaik) who have both been really helpful, and supportive and seeing other people play out my music – it’s been crazy.
Well, it’s not surprising, you’ve had support from big boys NOISIA on your previous free downloads…
Yeah, that was crazy. I was really amazed that they played the tunes and it’s definitely something off my bucket list.
How did you find working with Flexout?
Really nice, we were together at Fabric in February, where I met Tom in person. It’s really important to me to get to know who is behind the music, and he really has a love for it. I love the content Flexout has been putting out, the artists, and the whole concept of the label. I really loved working with Tom, he’s a really cool guy and I can always call him up and ask him questions. I’m also grateful for the fact that he acknowledged my vision, it was definitely a cool experience and a real family vibe because everyone really loves doing what they’re doing there.
Yeah, Flexout has got a good thing going on for sure…
We first met when you were living in Vienna, how much would you say growing up in Austria has shaped your path into music?
Being in Vienna, I was so motivated to do music every day, envisioning myself trying to be really good at it. Before I started producing I was DJing a lot in clubs in Vienna. I wasn’t socializing that much, when I went out I went to the Contrast nights because they were really amazing, and I really like the concept of Contrast being in a really sick club with a top tier sound system. It’s always really cool to be with those guys and hang out with artists backstage, some of them were people I looked up to, they inspired me, so chilling with them was always really fun. My inspiration comes from seeing guys like Alix Perez & Skeptical play, hearing the music from them, and being blown away by the vibes they’re creating. It was one of the main motives that made me want to make music – the feeling I get from those tunes.
So, what led you to go from DJing to production?
I started really getting into production when I was going out to the Contrast nights, through my brother. I was there once and I was really intoxicated, I had this moment where I could just really understand the call and response in the music. It was really eye-opening to me, I can remember the two tunes, Skeptical – Blue Eyes & Imperial, and I was just blown away. I could hear the drums talking to each other, and that call and response is still a concept that amazes me now. From there I was DJing a lot with a friend of mine, and I asked another friend how to get into production and he showed me Ableton in 2016.
Back then I was still playing Ice Hockey in Austria. I played professionally for 11 years and lived in a dorm from 14 to 18. Every time after practice I was always rushing back to the dorms and making music until two, three o’clock in the morning. I would just try out new things and try to understand the DAW. It was really fun and I had like, tunnel vision. I just wanted to try out new things all the time. Then I met a couple of friends of mine who were also into production, and we started exchanging tunes, especially Stanko Disturbo and Markus Wingz, who’s seen my productions go on and always given me good, strict feedback which is really awesome.
How did I not know you played Ice Hockey? Tell me more…
So I played professionally from 7-18 years old. I was part of the national team, playing tournaments in America and Canada and it was the main thing I did. I went to an academy in Austria, playing every day and doing ice training 5 times a week, going to the gym three times a week, playing on weekends, traveling to Hungary for example for 8 hours just to compete and shit. I just didn’t have the drive to take it further. To be at the top, you have to work that extra bit harder, train a little longer than everyone else….instead, I went home and made music. That was what drove me.
Is there anyone in your journey that’s helped, mentored, or inspired you?
For sure, my friend – Stanko. He played on my EP live stream with Fabian and Toni – who smashed their set- and he’s been a great help to me, like a mentor. We had a lot of nights where we sit at his home ‘til 6 oclock philosophizing about life and music, really going through all types and styles of music. We have a similar idea of what kind of groove will catch you – we’ve been also working on a couple projects and he’s one of my best colleagues. Also, Markus Wingz whose been there since a year after I started producing, and we’ve been talking to each other a lot which has been good for both of us – he helps me, I help him. He’s a really kind guy. Also Jonas Submarine is a really sweet guy to talk to and picking his brain about music..he’s a musical genius! Love him.
Can you tell us what you’ve been working on at the moment?
Right now I’m just trying to get some new stuff going. I’ve got a collab with Wingz coming out in October on his EP, which is a crazy EP by the way! And I am currently in the talks with Diego from Delta 9. I’ve had a couple of labels ask me for tunes so I’m working on those, and I’m also working with a really cool artist who I met, funnily enough, through Instagram explore.
He’s a french guy, a great soul singer. I want to do a lot of stuff with him, and we’ve already made one really nice track. And then hopefully another EP with Flexout, it was always a big goal for me to release with them and get to know the people behind the label.
I’m looking forward to this soul track, I’m intrigued by this singer….
Yeah man he’s crazy good, he lives about two hours away from Paris and he doesn’t have a mic. He recorded the first demo with his phone so I sent him my mic so he could record properly. I had to show him what I wanted to do with him as he never heard of d&b before, but he instantly picked up the vibe. I showed him some Liam Bailey, Dogger & Mindstate kinda vibes, and on his second idea, he just smashed it. It’s the first d&b track where I’ve worked with a vocalist and I want to make sure I send it to the right people so let’s see what happens with that…
I love the fact that you sent your mic to him, that’s dedication….
I was on his Instagram and he was recording everything on his phone, and I messaged him asking to do some d&b and he was equally impressed with my ideas, so it was a cool process for both of us. I’m glad we found a route to take musically that we were both happy with, and that he has the mic! I don’t need it, my setup is more than enough.
It sounds like Instagram served you up a little gem there…
Yeah, finding this guy was a blessing. I told him I want to keep him under the radar for as long as possible because as soon as he’s out, people will be asking him for vocals all the time!
Does that not make you feel good though? That you’ve worked collaboratively with someone who may not have had that platform before working with you? That’s pretty cool…
Yeah definitely, I’m really happy to help open doors, even if it’s just sending my mic so he can use it for his own projects. It feels great that I helped someone take a step in the right direction. I’m not a big player at all, but seeing potential and being able to help with that, feels good.
Speaking of hidden gems, who should we be keeping an ear on?
Waeys, Klinical, Trail, Solace, Echo Brown, Rohaan, Thematic, DOt., Gyrofield, Visages are really crazy people that I have been feeling at the moment, and Tom is trying to set me up with Cauzer recently…
Nel! She’s doing bits…
Yeah, I’m looking to get on something with her soon and see where it goes. Another one is Oat, he’s a really nice dude. There’s too many again! Of course, the Austrian gang – Division, Wingz, Compiler, Mofes, Secula, Halflow, Screamarts they’re all crazy guys – that’s all off the top of my head….. I’m in kind of a bubble at the moment, just concentrating on myself. But there is so much new talent out there.
Yeah, it’s pretty mad, there’s a steady stream of next-gen producers coming though that are really starting to make a name for themselves. I look forward to watching you rise through the ranks too…
Hopefully, let’s see. I look forward to being able to one day play gigs and festivals with the new wave of young guns, all on stage together.
Fingers crossed for 2021…
Thank you so much for this interview! It was really fun!
Thank YOU for taking the time & big up on the EP!
You can keep up to date with releases, collabs & general En:vy shenanigans via the socials below. ‘Push Through’ is OUT NOW on Flexout Audio, available to buy & stream….support the artists you love & grab a copy here.