Long-time future garage fans will be no stranger to the intricate, orchestral journey that is Enzalla's discography; indeed the Italian artist has been featured numerous times already by Stereofox. I took the release of his Meadows EP as the perfect opportunity to finally talk to him in more depth about his processes and inspirations:
Firstly, “Luminosa” and “Anima” are very striking song titles, seemingly describing a link between light and the soul. Is there any significance behind this? Are the tracks supposed to have a particular meaning when considered together?
Hi and thanks a lot for having me, it’s a pleasure!
Regarding their title, yes both of these tracks try to explore fragility with calm and from a serene point of view. I see the tracks as a way to evade everyday life, from the mania of showing ourselves as perfect, handsome or always self-confident. Luminosa came first, Anima after some months, and the title was inspired by the short poem “Animula vagula blandula” by emperor Adrian. So the titles are not related but I thought that their sound could have been a good match.
You’ve been releasing a lot of chillhop recently, but “Luminosa” sees you return to your older future garage sound. What inspired this doubling-back?
Indeed, I am exploring a lot of chillhop lately! After our first lockdown here in Italy I visited some places, and one in particular, that inspired a track called “Fireflies” a while ago. In early May you can walk during the night in the park and see entire “walls” of fireflies around. Seeing this again brought me back to my roots. It has been a kind of memory that inspired me to try to go back.
“Anima” seems to grow and shift as it progresses, with some quite eerie slides into an almost microtonal sound towards the end. Was this a direction you knew you wanted to take the track from the very beginning of the production process, or was it a happy accident?
This is a very good question. It was 50/50. I used only my Op1, which is a hardware synth, and this guitar pedal by Chase Bliss Audio called Blooper. Now this Blooper allows you to record loops and mangle them in fantastic ways, and one of them is slowing down the recording like on tape. While “Anima” is 100% improvised live, I was definitely trying to achieve that effect. I was listening to Basinski’s “Disintegration Loops” and I loved how you can hear the imperfections adding something to the loop. I tried to do something similar with the Blooper.
You play around with hardware quite a lot on your Instagram; has this become a dominant force in your workflow or are you still quite heavily reliant on software to create your sounds?
I have been fascinated by a lot of people on Instagram making music just out of hardware synth and I wanted to try. It started like “now I want to use real instruments and make DAW-less music”. So I jammed a lot with, again, the Op1, and tried to make some tracks just with it (like Anima or Oceanic EP). The experience has been fantastic not because of the sounds themselves, but because of the mindset. I learnt that limit is a very good friend, having just one (or a limited amount of) sound, synth, sample, forced my mind to switch way of thinking and instead of thinking “what I can do” I thought “how can I make these sound good?”.
I don’t use them as driving forces now, but I just add a tiny touch of them and still heavily rely on software.
Have you got any plans to explore unexpected genres with future releases? Liquid DnB or progressive house, for example?
I don’t have precise plans to be completely honest, but lately I am fascinated by orchestral music and videogame music, as well as by melodies that can drive some emotions. I think I will try to develop more these sides in my productions. I think that these ingredients can be integrated in whatever genre, it started as future-garage with orchestral nuances and very melody driven, and now it is the same with chillhop. My idea is to maintain my own voice and to grow embracing a lot of genres so that I can avoid being repetitive. With future-garage I ended up having the impression of composing the same track over and over, so I needed a fresh start.
And finally, you seem to be able to maintain an impressively high release rate. How do you combat creative block?
I suffer a lot from creative blocks, and the last has been a two year block. I am not so confident about what I am doing but luckily my good friend William (How Great Were The Robins) gave me a simple advice that changed everything for me: “don’t take yourself too seriously”. If you don’t enjoy the process of making mistakes, of being stuck on tracks, even the frustration of binning an entire project and starting over again, you’re missing one of the most beautiful sides of music production.
Once I realized that I can enjoy the process and release tracks even if I didn’t feel them as good as my idols’ tracks, I started making much more music. I owe him and his suggestions a lot.
I usually take a couple of hours during the evening to improvise piano loops and develop them, 90% of the projects are not saved. Lately, I am trying to take pictures or videogames and try to develop music starting from the feelings they evoke. Another exercise I am trying is to ask myself how to recreate “sunny” or “rainy” atmospheres, or ask myself how does “autumn” sounds like? Some chords help conveying specific emotions, as well as some progressions, or sounds, that’s why I listen to a lot of videogame music trying to figure out why a theme sounds “icy” or “sad” or “heroic”. In general, this helps me avoiding blocks or at least to keep the process interesting.
Stream Enzalla's new EP Meadows below, and make sure to take a dive into his discography!