If you don't know Evgeny Enchev (or simply Gena), well, you better fix that.
Certainly one of the fastest progressing producers in the Bulgarian hip hop scene, Gena is part of the thriving collective So Called Crew (together with Grigovor and Jluch). For the past few years, they all proved that unorthodox hip hop music can actually be popular in Bulgaria, reaching the same numbers of streams & views as local commercial artists.
I've had the pleasure of following his career for some years now and I'm super glad we finally got to talk here on Stereofox. Plus, the mix he created for us is fire!
1. A Tribe Called Quest - The Hop
2. Timbuktu - Rock Radio
3. Asher Roth - Pabst & Jazz
4. Outkast - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
5. Eyedea & Abilities - Star Destroyer
6. AZ - Rather Unique
7. Masta Ace & Marco Polo - Breukelen
8. Kendrick Lamar - You Ain't Gotta Lie
9. Aesop Rock - Mystery Fish
10. Isaiah Rashad & SZA - Stuck In The Mud
11. El-P - Tasmanian Pain Coaster
Hi, Gena, where do we find you today?
Just watching YouTube videos with my cat.
When did you start doing music and how did your sound evolve throughout the years?
I started around 2006 when a frined of mine showed me Fruity Loops 3. I started using stock sounds and slowly moved towards sample based production. This went on for the next 6-7 years and lately I'm starting to play more and sample less.
Who influenced you artistically?
As a kid I listened to a lot of Dj Premier, Pete Rock, 9th Wonder, Dilla, Dre, El-P, Aesop Rock, so definitely these guys.
Tell us about how So Called Crew came to life 8 years ago?
I formed a duo with a friend of mine and we did two albums together in 2009 and 2010. At that time I became friends with other artists, so I had an idea of making a "soul assassins type of record" where I produce different artists, but under one name. So I came up with the name So Called Crew, we did an album and everything after that came naturally, haha.
When was the turning point, when things just exploded for you guys?
In late 2016 we released a video for the track "TL;DR" which became kinda viral, so maybe that was a somewhat turning point, I don't know. It's been steadily becoming bigger and bigger for us with every new record.
How do you balance between being so popular in Bulgaria and still doing non-commercial hip hop? Is there pressure from the public, labels, etc.?
No, definitely no pressure from anyone, it's just us and we do whatever we think it's cool. The good thing is that we all love different types of music, which greatly contributes to us making interesting music.
And that's probably why people still listen to us eight years later.
That being said, do you think you set trends?
I don't know, maybe the trend for being consistent with releasing new music?
What's the right approach to producing music to you - seeing it as work or as pleasure and a creative act? Or both?
In the beginning it was just for pleasure and self-expression, now it's that, plus work, so sometimes it's not that fun as it used to be.
You collaborate with a lot of people from the Bulgarian music scene we really love. Why is teaming up crucial?
I'm just scared to death of doing the same thing over and over again, so I try to switch it up with every project, try to learn something new.
This one's for the music junkies - what equipment do you use?
I have a Technics SL-1200 turntable, a Rane TTM56S, a UA Apollo x6, two Yamaha HS7 monitors and some vinyl records.
It's been great talking to you! Anything else you'd like to add?
Drink plenty of water every day.