Enyu is an art collective co-founded by ZiDiiL in 2016. Their brand of experimental hip-hop pulls influence from just about everything, from Three Six Mafia to Justin Timberlake to video game OSTs. The core of the group consists of members ZiDiiL, Scott Delta, and Illmana, the latter two both having released stellar projects in February of this year. I discovered their music in early 2022 and was stunned by the vision, technical skill, cohesion, and care put into every aspect of their craft. Many collectives in the underground nowadays aren’t nearly as close-knit and unified in ideology and sound as Enyu is, and their art benefits greatly from this level of connection. The multi-talented members create whole worlds within the soundscapes of their music, and they’ve managed to do nearly all of it in-house. Each release from the group pushes the boundaries of convention a little more than the previous, often channeling the spirit of the avant-garde pioneers that influenced them in the first place while maintaining a wholly unique sound and approach to their craft.
Having closely watched their growth over last year, I decided to get the core members of the collective together for their first interview to gather some insight into their artistic influences, history as a collective, and their approach to music creation, as well as get a look into their upcoming slate of releases and other media that Enyu plans to explore in 2023.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
What are your names?
ZiDiiL: I’m ZiDiiL, and many know me as Jade.
Scott Delta: My name is Scott Delta.
Illmana: My name is Illmana (she/her).
When was the group founded, and by who?
ZiDiiL: Enyu was founded by myself and a couple others around 2016-2017. By the time of our inception, we had just three members, and while I am the only founding member remaining, we continue to grow in size.
Where are you from?
ZiDiiL: I’m from all over the Southern states, born in Florida and raised in South and North Carolina. It’s definitely a factor that influenced my music taste and inspirations.
Scott Delta: I’m originally from St. Louis, Missouri, but I went to college in Boston, and I’ve lived around the country.
Illmana: I am from Washington D.C., ziDiiL is from Tampa, and Scott Delta is from St. Louis. There are more of us, as well as even more close collaborators all over.
What drove each of you to start making music?
ZiDiiL: I’ve been playing instruments since I was a small kid, so I guess it’s always [been] something that’s on the edge of my mind. I really started to focus on writing and creating my own music when I was in high school and especially after, when I was [in] college and inevitably dropped out to pursue music.
Scott Delta: What drove me to start making music was a number of things. I had met [a founding member of Enyu] and we had started making music together at Crafts House and I just felt like, such a deep connection with it. I was being driven to really make my best-- make the best of myself out of this music. What drives me to make music is just expression and experience. Really just putting myself-- it’s really just a salvation from the world around me in a lot of ways. It really brings the best out of me.
Illmana: Making music was always something that I was involved in-- from school band to learning how to make earbleed-worthy “remixes” in Audacity a decade ago, I loved music and wanted to be a part of it somehow. It wasn't until the summer after my freshman year of college that I was introduced to ENYU and started to realize that making music wasn’t just possible, but was enjoyable and a major point of growth in my life. Once we finally got together in person, the music just started flowing.
How did the Enyu collective come to fruition? What were the underlying ideas and common goals that brought you together?
ZiDiiL: Enyu came about from a lot of drugs, and a lot of time spent obsessing over music and art. I think originally we used it as a means to [...] channel our intentions and our ideas together to create something tangible and real, while also using it spiritually as a means to add purpose and establish a support system. We were all on some grassroots, community-driven mindsets, and through mutual friends and shared interest, all kinds of artists and creators came together. Members come and go, but the summer of 2019 is when everyone from all corners of the [United States] came together to make this happen.
The common goal of Enyu’s foundation is really just focusing on developing long term connections over that magic everyone loves to chase in life. The long nights laughing at nothing, perfect bites of food you’ve lovingly perfected time and time again, hearing a song in the right place at the right time and getting those chills across your whole body. Everyone wants a little motivation sometimes, Enyu is here to help you chase that high.
Scott Delta: ENYU, as far as I understand it, is the idea and concept that everything you need is within you and it will be brought out by the people around you that also have this idea. We were all friends of friends-- there were 6 of us originally-- and we were like, “Oh, let’s all meet up! We’re gonna go on this trip and meet up, make music, and just do what we can!” It started as that and fell apart throughout that time. I mean, I hadn’t even met ZiDiil up until that point. They came through and stayed at my place, and then we drove out to Nashville and hung out there for a bit, even though [other founding members] were supposed to be there; they got caught up in some bullshit, because they were locked up for a bit. Even while we were there, someone left, so it was down to the three of us-- me, ZiDiil, and Illmana. After Nashville, we all drove out to meet Illmana in Redlands, so we drove across three quarters of the country to get there after I’d only met Jade for like, maybe a week at that point. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life. I didn’t even know how to use a DAW like that, ZiDiiL taught me everything I knew. It was really such an eye-opening experience to just bring that out. In terms of a common goal, or how it was formed, was just like the energy, the connections, the chemistry, and the shared ideology of that. It can be brought out but it’s within you. It’s there, it is laying dormant until you bring it out.
Illmana: The original ideology of ENYU was created by ZiDiiL and some of their old friends long before I had ever joined up, but by the time I was a part of the collective, it [was always] a place of welcoming. Everyone involved is just doing their best trying to live a compassionate and creative life away from oppression and judgment. We also share a goal of wanting to be able to live life as artists without having to sacrifice ourselves to [the] industry.
How do you feel you have benefitted as artists from being a part of Enyu?
ZiDiiL: I’ve infinitely benefited from knowing everyone in Enyu. Technical shit aside, when it comes down to [anything from] life outlooks to problem solving, everyone brings their own thing to the table. And I’ve been able to grow so much and supply so much of my own knowledge because of this.
Illmana: I personally would not be anywhere near as able to make music if I hadn’t been shown the ropes of recording by ZiDiiL and Delta. They have been instrumental in figuring out what kind of artist I want to be. They have also been incredible models for my photography over the years and have been in countless pieces of mine. It's been a blessing to watch them grow and have been able to capture it in my work.
Whether solo or as a group, what projects are on the horizon from Enyu?
ZiDiiL: Several of our artists, including me, have solo projects in the works or loads of singles to go. Enyu has been producing, mixing, and mastering almost everything in-house for years now, and the backlog can get backed up, that’s for sure. Just know there’s plenty on the way, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.
Scott Delta: In terms of projects, I can only speak for me right now. There’s so much in the air right now. I have a tape with Astral Trap coming out, I have a single with you coming out, I have another one that you’re supposed to hop on. I’m trying to release at least one thing a month. In the time that we’ve moved to Portland, which has been almost two years now, we’ve made over 400 tracks which is kind of crazy. It’s just a crazy number to think about.
Illmana: There are numerous projects on the way from ENYU for the future, and in more than one medium. Alongside the multiple musical projects, there are a few music videos, short film pieces, and a few photography collections.
Whether through music or other media, who has influenced your art the most?
ZiDiiL: My influences travel all over the place, but if I had to narrow it down for relevance, it would probably land on Three Six Mafia, Beach House, and video game OSTs. I love forming dream worlds-- or nightmares-- in my productions; nostalgic but also futuristic, massive yet precise.
Scott Delta: My most important/strongest influences are probably Frank Ocean or Justin Timberlake-- really anything I’m listening to at any given moment. Influences.. it’s hard to say because, like, my existence influences my music. My being influences my music. If I had to point to others, maybe Mixed Matches-- I could name artists forever, so I don’t know how helpful that is.
Illmana: Some of my biggest artistic influences include Garry Winogrand, Vuhlandes, Awful Records, Black Kray, Rihanna, Three Six Mafia, [and] Odd Future.
What is the collaborative/creative process like for the group? Is much of your collaborative work done in-person or over the Internet?
ZiDiiL: The creative process has almost always worked regardless of location, although [there have been] times where things were more difficult than others. Being in person can really help with workflow and articulating the vision more clearly, but distance sessions can come out crazy unique and let the collaborative aspect shine for both sides, since you’re both in your own zones.
Scott Delta: The creative process changes a lot, honestly. We try to experiment a lot. A lot of times it’ll start with [me or ziDiiL] playing synth or keys, or getting a loop together and starting with that, or the beat. Then we either start freestyling on top of it, or just start doing something else with it. I think my favorite creative process we’ve had was with ‘Cyanide!’ where ZiDiil made the keys, Illmana freestyled on top of it, then I made the drums around it. That was like, the perfect, idealized version of the creative process, where it’s all of these individual pieces coming together to a greater artistic vision.
Illmana: The collaborative process can vary in many ways, both in-person and over the Internet, as we all work in very different ways. Sometimes everyone is gathered in the living room working on a song, [and] other times one person is at the computer with headphones on while someone else is writing lyrics in their room. Everyone has their process, but that's what keeps everything unique and interesting once everything comes together.
Who are you most looking forward to working with outside of Enyu?
ZiDiiL: I’ve found a ton of amazing creators online and I think the underground circles I’ve come across have so much potential to take over, there’s plenty I’d love to start or keep working with if the situation came around. At least for me, first and foremost, I’m a music lover. Stressing over placements or collabs isn’t something I let bother me much anymore. If it’s meant to be, it shall-- anything else is just time distracted from the art.
Scott Delta: I’m looking forward to working with anyone that’ll work with me, to be honest. I’m shocked that no one has worked with me that much outside of this, but I’m also shocked that I’ve been able to work with the people I’ve been able to work with. Collectively, I can’t say who we’re most excited to work with, but for me, I’m most excited to work with those who inspire me... which is very vague. I can give specific examples. Astral Trap is a big one, Skully Vega, I’ve been excited to work with Popstar Benny. Everyone in the underground who really inspires me. I think transferring from being a fan to a friend is such a crazy experience in any of these relationships.
Illmana: I am really looking forward to working with Astral Trap, Dream Cola, and Asiago Peach, [who are] some of my favorite people and artists. I have music with all three that I am looking forward to, as well as some visual projects with Asiago Peach that I am incredibly excited for.
Outside of music, what forms of media has Enyu explored? How do you incorporate other media into your musical endeavors?
ZiDiiL: Enyu has aimed to be all inclusive of any creative endeavors that our ever-growing family is passionate about. We have people who make music, people in photography, engineers and editors, physical artists, dancers, and chefs. The list goes on, and we hope to keep it that way-- find a lane and pursue it at your own pace. Whatever it is you think about exercising to new heights, it’s right there in you (en-yu) waiting to be unlocked.
Scott Delta: In terms of other artistic mediums I explore, I’m getting a lot more into videography. I’ve been filming a lot-- filmography. I’ve been doing Photoshop editing a lot. I do engineering as well, a lot of engineering for ENYU. On top of that, I try and just explore a lot of different media. Eventually, I really want to get into hardware building for synths, guitar pedals, and effects pedals. Recording software, because I did a lot of electro-engineering back in the day and I really just wanna explore that realm of it, like creating the effects to [apply] to my vocals, if that makes sense. At the end of the day, I want to be able to build a studio in which I built the gear in it and I know exactly what it does and why it will work for me and the people I care about. That’s an ideal goal. I study music engineering a lot, and I got some opportunities to work with a few audio consulting firms, and a few sonic engineering places that I was very blessed to [get]. So sound is my main realm. I also do a lot of editing or tweaking, I used to do stop motion back in the day. I’m trying to incorporate that a lot more now. I’m doing more direction-- directing for films and shooting. I wanna learn a lot more. I’m always wanting to explore. I’m wanting to learn more about myself and be able to express that knowledge of myself through any media that I can bring myself to do.
With so much on the horizon, I look forward to seeing Enyu’s collective output and that of its members throughout this year, as well as the other artistic endeavors that they plan to explore. I believe their level of focus and commitment to their goals, their dedication to their craft, and the amount of sheer talent they possess will help Enyu break out of the niche corner of underground music they currently inhabit. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out the latest projects from Scott Delta (the R&B-influenced ‘Sabina’ EP) and Illmana (the maximalist hip-hop ‘Wake Up!’ EP), both of which are already some of my most listened-to projects of the year.
Written By: xoarctic (@xoxoarctic) twitter.com/xoxoarctic
Follow Enyu on Twitter at @Enyuniverse twitter.com/Enyuniverse
Follow Scott Delta on Twitter (@scottdeltaenyu) and Instagram (@scottdeltaenyu) twitter.com/scottdeltaenyu
Follow ZiDiiL on Twitter (@zidiilenyu) and Instagram (@zidiilenyu) twitter.com/scottdeltaenyu
Follow Illmana on Twitter (@illmanaenyu) and Instagram (@illmana_enyu) twitter.com/illmanaENYU