From representing his country in ice hockey to representing Critical Music at the top of the Beatport charts, Austria-born-Bristol-based En:vy has been turning heads with the sheer quality and diversity that he recently displayed on his Binary EP.
Amalgamating four tracks that all vary in their foundations but sound at home with each other on a singular body of work, En:vy, whose name outside of the realms of drum and bass is Jean Singer, joins a string of high-profile names on the Binary series, which has previously been host to Hyroglifics, Posij, T>I, IMANU back when he was Signal and plenty more.
Prior to this release, En:vy had been making noise with singles on Overview Music and Flexout Audio with whom he released the Push Through EP last year, cementing his minimalist style of drum and bass with sprinkles of jump up in the process.
After growing up in his beloved city of Vienna, Jean made the move to Bristol to study at the BIMM Institute. Now in his 3rd year of studies around the subject of electronic music production, it’s clear from his recent musical accomplishments that he’s been doing all of his university readings and then some.
We caught up with Jean to talk about his debut release on Critical, the sound that he wants to portray through his music, and the contrast between life in Bristol and Vienna.
Your Binary EP recently made it to the top of the Beatport drum and bass charts! You must be over the moon?
It’s a weird feeling. You can’t really put a ranking onto music, but it’s really nice to get that validation and know that people want to buy the music. It makes you think that maybe I can make a career in this music thing. It’s only my second EP, so I’m really glad that people bought it and people have even messaged me to say that they were blown away by the EP. It means a lot to me.
You join a very high-profile string of names on the Binary series. I bet that fills you with optimism and excitement going forward.
Yeah, but to be honest, I’m struggling a bit to get back into it now as I took the summer off from making music because I just wanted to enjoy my time back home in Vienna. I was working in my dad’s cafe and now going back to it feels a bit harder. Last year, when I made Police Chase and Pegasos for the Binary, I made the two songs in the space of two days.
Yeah, I made the main elements in one session. Then I just had two months of bullshit making music, so maybe it’s just about picking the right sample at the right time and getting the inspiration you need.
It happens to so many producers, creativity is almost impossible to force. When you made the two tunes, did you know that they’d end up on the same body of work?
Police Chase and Pegasos, for sure because the main synth is from the same bass patch but is just processed a bit differently. They’re still very much two different tracks though which I find really interesting.
If you had to pick a favourite from the EP, what would you go for?
That’s a hard question, but the order that I put the EP in was roughly in order of favourites. So Pegasos was first because I remember starting the track with this break at 1 am and then when I started adding more elements to it, I remember thinking that it was sick and was something that people might actually play out. I was quite blown away by the energy of the track and the drums in particular.
All four tracks collate so well to encapsulate your sound in a single release. When did you know that mix of deep, rolling, and soulful tunes were what you wanted to pursue?
With Pegasos and Police Chase, I wanted to show off this sound that I’d already showcased on my Push Through EP on Flexout, which is this minimal style of drum and bass with a little bit of jump up in it as well. There are artists like Klinical that do that sound really well. With the other tracks, they were involved because it feels important to me that have a balance in an EP.
For me, the first two are made for the dancefloor, whereas Airplane Mode and Forget The World feel a lot more chilled and soulful.
Definitely. The thought behind the first two was to make tunes that DJs would want to play. When I make music, I always think of whether I’d play this out or buy it for listening to. These are always the main objectives. I just hope that I was able to encapsulate the energy that I wanted to portray in this EP.
To take a step back from the release, you got into drum and bass back home in Vienna. Tell me about the scene there?
The first time I went out to a drum and bass event was back in 2015 through my brother Jacques, it was at this club called Grelle Forelle. There’s an event seriess called Contrast and when I was there I remember smoking something. It made me actively understand the concept of call and response for the first time in my life. I was blown away by it and the next night I was kept listening to Skeptical’s Blue Eyes and Imperial.
Haha, was it a lightbulb moment for you?
Yeah, it honestly felt like an eye-opening experience. Further on, I started producing at the end of 2016 whilst I was still playing ice hockey and I also got to know a few people through DJing. People like Wingz and a few really good friends Stanko, Fabi, and Toni. We started DJing, producing, and going out together and they all gave me really good feedback on my tunes. That environment of having close friends that have the same energy about music was so important.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals is so so important.
That’s what helped the most and kept me grinding every single day. It’s the main thing that’s got me to where I am today.
Vienna’s obviously had a big impact on your life and career, but do you think you’ll return home after you’ve finished studying in Bristol?
I’m pretty sure I’ll be here for a year or two after university so I can get to know more people in the scene here. Even though the Austrian scene is strong, take Camo & Krooked as an example, as well as a bunch of smaller producers who are sick, when I go to Vienna I’m in chill mode. Whereas when I’m in Bristol, I’m in production mode.
It’s hard to separate workspace and chill space, isn’t it?
Yeah, my iMac is in Bristol as well so all my production stuff is there. I use my laptop when I’m home to sketch out ideas though. It’s very different vibes between the two cities for me.
What are the biggest differences between the scene over here compared to Vienna?
In Austria, especially in Vienna, Grelle Forelle has one of the best-engineered sound systems that I’ve ever heard and the people there go crazy for the tunes. There are literally people screaming. In the UK there is such an overflow of events and drum and bass.
People over here probably get complacent with how much we get over here.
Then again, it depends on the night. In Vienna, there are some nights that lack energy aswell. In Bristol, there are so many sick nights out. For example, tonight it’s Collective at Crofters. You can’t really compare the two. They are just two different city’s with different vibes and that is what makes them unique.
Collective nights are sick! Are you going?
Definitely. I live on Stoke’s Croft so it’s easy to get there. The cool thing about England is that there’s so much underground music. Since I’ve been here I’ve got into dubstep, dub, and reggae. Bristol is such a vivid and lively city.
I don’t think you could’ve picked a better place than Bristol to go to for uni.
I love the vibes here. There are so many producers you can talk to and connect with as well.
Keeping with your Austrian roots, I believe that you used to ice hockey at a high level when you lived there?
I played from the age of seven until I was eighteen. I played for a club and I played in the Austrian national team as well. We played in tournaments in America and Canada. It was at a pretty high level I guess.
Do you still play?
I played as more of a hobby for a year after I stopped playing professionally in Austria, but I haven’t in Bristol. I felt like I didn’t have the drive to wake up in the morning anyway and do all the training for it.
Professional sports are a big commitment.
Yeah, they really are. There’s not a lot of time to chill.
Or go to raves….
Haha yeah. I didn’t have that drive anymore. But with music, I have this drive, I want to play in other countries, I want to have good times with it, and I want to inspire people in the same way that Skeptical inspired me.
That’s a great mindset to be in, Before we finish, let the people know what’s next for you…
I’ve got a couple of gigs coming up. First is my first headline show in Jersey with Vanguard, then a week later I’m playing at Club Ost with Shrouded in Berlin. With releases, I’ve got a very special collab on a very special label next year. It’s a banger. That’s all I can say! Thank you for the interview! It’s been a pleasure!