Russia's game-changing drum and bass prodigy Alexey Egorchenkov (or, in fact, Enei) has just recently reached a somewhat pivotal moment in his musical career. With the realisation of his debut album 'Machines', just out on Critical Recordings, a significant and laudable milestone has been achieved. Before this, the gifted producer crept from relative obscurity off the back of a defiantly personal sound. Tribal samples, intricate drum patterns, big engine leads and his succinct appreciation for atmospheric composition bred some of the most crucial releases in recent memory, such as Cracker, Obsession and the monumental Stonehead EP.
2012 has unquestionably been a big year for Enei, so we touched base the man himself to discuss his latest major achievements; the hugely anticipated debut LP, his first shows in the UK and all of the palaver that brought him to this point.
Of your earlier tracks, which do you think was most crucial in raising your profile internationally? At what point did the ball really start rolling toward widespread recognition?
Well I think my arrival at Critical can be considered, with the release of tunes like Cracker, Stonehead and One Chance. The start and I guess impetus for the growth of my career was the release of One Chance on Nightlife 5, which held a place in Andy C’s record bag.
Looking at the artists featured on your album, were there any that you found you had particularly great chemistry with? Are there any who you'd be keen to work with again?
I’ve been working together with Eastcolors for a while. I really like his musical vision and his tracks sound modern and European. He really has his own style! As for the other artists, I hadn’t worked with any of them up until the album, but I am completely satisfied with our cooperation and how the tracks turned out.
Which of the album tracks took the longest to produce and why?
That was Saligia featuring Kemo, we spent a lot of time working on the vocal aspects of the track, we really wanted to the track to sound proper grimy.
Up until relatively recently, the difficult and lengthy Visa process has prevented you from visiting the UK to play and thus having any physical contact with the drum and bass scene here. It must have been a great feeling to finally arrive here, what was it like to play those first few London/UK shows?
Yes lots of Russians want to come to the UK but very few actually make it across because the regulations for tourist visas are so stringent. We found a way around this by sorting out a work visa, even though this a lot more expensive and difficult to obtain, it guarantees entry into the country! The first parties literally went off, as people had been waiting a long to hear me play in the UK, so everyone went out of their way to make them great.
What was it like to meet your UK peers, guys like Kasra and the Critical Music crew? Who, if anyone, were you most excited to meet? Any of your own heroes or idols?
Yes ever since setting foot in the UK I’ve had the opportunity to meet many famous people including legends that I’ve admired for many years! My first meeting with Kasra was back in Russia, I was of course very happy to meet him!
How does the scene in the UK compare to Russia's, are there any major differences?
Yes I think there are differences. The fundamental one is that because drum and bass originated in the UK people react positively and quickly to everything, whereas in Russia due to backlog of music that occurred during the troubles of the 1990’s, nowadays many people simply don’t understand what real dnb is about, although this is slowly improving.
One of our favourite trademark Enei sounds is that massive 'motorbike engine' synth heard on tracks like “Movin' Fast,” “Crawlers” and your remix of D*Minds' “I am Bad.” Can you tell us what your go-to/most used synthesizers are? And which is your preferred D.A.W?
Yes, it’s a fashionable trick! I used NI Massive for these types of sound, it’s probably my most beloved synthesizer. At the same time I also use z3ta 2 for atmospheric and melodic lines.
I heard that you are also a drummer. Surely this must come into play when you are writing and producing your music now - especially from a rhythmic and percussive angle? Do you still manage to play nowadays?
Yes I played in a rock band for about 6 years and its definitely helped in building rhythm in my tracks, no doubt! I haven’t played on the drums for a very long time as I haven’t got a kit set up at the moment, but I do have plans to buy one in the future so I don’t lose my skills altogether.
What other influences and experiences in your life do you think affect your music in terms of writing and composition?
Many different types of music outside of drum and bass influence me, including just about every style and genre you can think of. I should also mention literature, science fiction and film as they too have a major impact. I work on syncing voice overs for films and this has also left its mark on the music.
Do you listen to much music outside of drum and bass? If so, what specifically are you enjoying or finding exciting at the moment?
I love different types of house, tech house and varied experimental tribal music. In general I try to listen to everything so I don’t get to hung up on any one particular style. Actually I don’t really listen to dnb around the house and can’t listen to tracks from start to finish whilst sitting in a chair with a beer in hand. Personally I do not believe that the music was designed for this, unless it’s a classic mix from LTJ Bukem of course!
There have been a good few prominent producers to emerge from the Russian scene; yourself, Eastcolors, Unquote and Subwave to name just a handful. Are there any new names or up-and-coming artists that we should watch out for, either in drum and bass or other genres?
Yes there are a lot of names like Krot, Place2B & Paimon who make good stuff, but then there’s also Tobax, Intelligent Manners, Andy Pain and a whole load of others! There are a lot of good musicians and I couldn’t even begin to remember them all.
What has been your favourite mix of two tunes that you've heard a DJ drop (or even mixed yourself) recently?
I think that Octane & DLR feat Script Set up the Set and BTK'sThat’s what it is (Optiv remix) go very well together.
Do you experiment much with other musical genres outside of drum and bass? Are there any specific non-dnb labels that you'd like to release with at some point in the future?
Yes I try to write tropical tech house and tribal tunes and in the future id love to get something released on Toolroom, but that’s a far off dream at the moment!
Your touring schedule has taken you all over the place in 2012. Do you have any especially memorable stories to tell looking back over the past few months?
Its hard to single out any particular show as all of them are pretty similar, but if I was to pick one I’d say it would have to be the main stage at Outlook Festival in Croatia this year. People in the crowd were shouting and screaming after every single track and the whole atmosphere was absolutely insane!
Enei's Machines is out now on Critical Recordings, check out our review here.