Enyel C was in, of all places, Spain when the Coronavirus tightened its grip on the world and triggered global lockdowns. “I was doing what was supposed to be a two-week student exchange, and ended up being there for two months,” he tells Remezcla.
Being stuck for two months in Salamanca in a home that wasn’t his, with only a small corner table as his work space, wasn’t how Enyel (a play on the English pronunciation of his name Ángel) envisioned spending his spring, but in a way the circumstances weren’t that far from how he developed his musical start.
Enyel’s chillwave take on reggaetón has endeared him to thousands of fans in the short time since he broke onto the scene via (‘natch) Soundcloud a little over a year ago. His father is an accomplished salsa musician, which means Enyel was exposed to music very early on. His first earnest attempt at creating music was when he joined a friend’s rock band in middle school and taught himself to play bass. “I was a rockerito up until my senior year,” he says with a laugh. After graduating from high school he enrolled in college in New Orleans where he decided to study music therapy. It was here that he began to dabble in DIY music production that has defined his output so far and made him stand out from the freshest batch of Zoomer Latinx artists that have begun to stake new claims to the ever-expanding ground of movimiento music.
“Finding yourself so far away from home, making new friends, finding new ways to use your time… all of that is what got me started,” with what the San Juan native calls his “project.” Making beats and recording vocals while holed up in his dorm room isn’t that far off from those quarantine days of Spain. It’s those same conditions that have birthed entire subgenres of popular music in recent years. Indeed, Enyel’s marriage of laid back vibes and kinetic songwriting with a bedroom music aesthetic calls to mind artists like Cody ChestnuTT. One can’t help but imagine The Headphone Masterpiece probably sounding not too dissimilar if only he’d been more into video game MIDIs and had access to Logic Pro back when producing his lo-fi debut.
The biggest validation of his talent came in the most startling way last summer when Bad Bunny himself posted a direct link to Enyel’s song “Gameboyz” on his IG bio, apropos of nothing. El Conejo Malo even tweeted out a quote which eagle-eyed fans quickly noticed was taken from the music video’s end credits. The link stayed up for only a handful of days, but the signal boost had been made. To this day, Enyel has no idea what provoked the free publicity. “All I can imagine is that he simply heard it and liked it a lot,” which he affirms is more than good enough for him.
Now with his most recent single, “Hola!,” Enyel is trying to recapture that bounce, and this time he has the backing of La Buena Fortuna, a Puerto Rico-based record label that reps the likes of Kany García, Pedro Capó, iLe, PJ Sin Suela, and Residente. The decidedly retro accompanying music video melds both contemporary Zoom party culture and old school MPEGs with their choppy video quality. “We didn’t have the benefit of a big budget so we made something within our means yet interesting since we feel lots of [artists] have big budgets but not a lot have interesting ideas,” says Jinn, the video’s director and a longtime collaborator of Enyel’s.
Enyel points out that his approach to songwriting has also been altered by COVID-19, since his usual go-to inspirations are out of reach for now. “Last summer, I spent a lot of time doing parties, and that whole scene plus being with friends and fans really inspired me. But now that that’s missing I find myself looking more inward and being more introspective for my inspiration, and that’s led me to writing more about love themes and…spending more time imagining myself in situations I’ve never been in.” That’s precisely what inspired “Hola!” which he says is based on a heartbreak scenario that he hasn’t been through personally, but he got creative with.
While Enyel has been known to see himself lumped in with other artists, both Latinx and non-Latinx, he doesn’t sweat the comparisons. “I feel [they] help people grasp a concept better. If someone says I remind them of Lil Yachty…personally, I may not follow him, but if that helps them ‘get‘ me, then I’m cool with it.”
Currently, he’s juggling his college responsibilities remotely and focusing on his post-pandemic future. “Instead of being out there having parties, goofing around, I’ve actually gotten to concentrate on growing and figuring out the next steps, and I’m not so sure that would’ve happened like it has if I’d been running around outside during summer.”
Those next steps include a remix of “Hola!” with featured artists in the cards and an EP by year’s end.