Enya Umanzor and Drew Phillips Talk 'Emergency Intercom'

Enya Umanzor and Drew Phillips Talk 'Emergency Intercom'

by Bailey Richards

“Emergency intercom” may be the name of a life-saving device but — arguably more importantly — it’s the name of a podcast. YouTubers Drew Phillips and Enya Umanzor started Emergency Intercom last July out of pandemic boredom with nothing but a small setup in the corner of their kitchen and the comedic chemistry they’ve perfected through nearly a decade of friendship.

Now, every Friday, hundreds of thousands of people tune in to hear the best friend duo talk — with the occasional quip from their sound-guy-turned-friend Ky Newman — about things that would get you banned from the dinner table for an hour. In Drew's words, the show has a “stream-of-consciousness vibe,” and while its complete and utter lack of structure would doom most podcasts (and make it impossible to sell to a production company), almost 60 episodes later, Drew and Enya can’t imagine doing things any other way.

During a trip to New York, the Los Angeles-based duo met up with PAPER to chat over some coffee (and a salad that Enya lovingly referred to as her “stink bowl”) for their first-ever interview. In a conversation that felt like an episode of the podcast (but with a little more sincerity and a lot less Ky), the pair chatted about being platonic soulmates, their internet regrets and all things Emergency Intercom.

Photo by Josiah

What are you guys doing in the city?

Enya Umanzor: I'm just obsessed with New York and I was like, “Drew you have to go.” I don't even know how we came up with the idea of staying here for a month.

Drew Phillips: I think you just roped me in. You were like, “Let’s go for a month,” and I was just like, “Why not?”

Is recording the podcast most of the work you're doing in the city?

Drew: We kind of just do [the podcast] wherever the hell we want to so yeah, that and recording videos and taking meetings and stuff. I like to say it's work but literally once a week we have to do something for two hours and that’s it.

Is it your full-time gig now?

Enya: Yeah, it’s what we commit everything to.

Do you guys ever take the subway when you're here?

Drew: [Nods.] The only reason we didn't today is ‘cause we were running late. Well, Enya was running late.

Enya: I overslept and then I was like, “We'll make it,” but I was like, “Damn, I'm wearing makeup and I sweat so easily,” and I was so embarrassed with the idea of pulling up and being drenched in sweat.

I always think of y'all when I take the subway because they literally advertise your podcast on every single car.

Drew: Oh yeah, literally. “Emergency intercom.”

I didn’t know if y’all were behind that or…

Drew: Yeah, we just did a huge marketing thing.

Enya: Huge campaign.

Drew: We wanted it to be very subtle.

Enya: That's literally where I got the name [for the podcast].

Photo by Enya

That's what I was gonna ask next.

Enya: Not to pat myself on the back but I'm a notoriously good name giver.

Drew: So good. She came up with Field Trip.

Enya: I did Radio Is Dead… I was just spending a lot of time in New York and every time I saw one [an emergency intercom] I was like, “Damn, I really want to go up to that and touch it and talk.” Just ‘cause in my head, I'm like, “That probably blasts into all the cars.” Then I was like, “That's so obnoxious of me,” and then I was like, “That's literally what the podcast is. That's literally just our inherent need to be like, ‘Should we be loud right now?’”

You’ve been friends for almost 10 years. How do you guys never run out of things to talk about?

Drew: I don't know. There have been moments where we'll do a podcast and we have nothing to speak about and I actually don't know how we pull shit out of our ass. I know it's a big thing online, platonic soulmates, but I genuinely believe that we just have this connection comedically. Great chemistry together. I think it was just like the perfect storm. [Podcasting] is the perfect medium, too.

Enya: We also just don't shut up. I genuinely do think part of it is because we also forget that we have had multiple conversations before, so if it's something we've spoken about two years ago, we wouldn't know.

Drew: I told my home invasion story 10 times. [Leans into the phone’s microphone.] And I'll tell it again on here if you need me to.

That plane video — was that taken on the way to New York?

Enya: Mhmm.

I saw TikTok about it this morning. What song were you listening to?

Enya: Dude, it was “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey. I was sitting next to our friend Masyn on the plane. I made a joke to him to get up. I was like, “Get up. Dance with me.”

Are you guys here in the city with just Masyn and Ky?

Drew: We're here together. Masyn and Ky tagged along. Ky is out here helping us out with a podcast and just doing all the technical shit.

How did you guys meet Ky?

Drew: We met randomly at this party at Chateau Marmont, which is iconic, and we immediately hit it off. It's rare meeting people who can match our energy and also make us laugh. He just came around at the perfect time because me and Enya were talking about starting this podcast ‘cause it was late pandemic and we were like, “Dude, we're so fucking bored.”

Enya: “We need work.”

Drew: I think we attempted to [record an episode] without someone and it was just a flop. Then we brought Ky in because he knows how to do music shit and record shit. It just worked out because it was like performing to a friend.

Enya: Also [Ky is] somebody who doesn't have an extreme attention disorder who was able to be like, “Okay, the thing you want to do is not that complicated. Stop running away from it.”

Photo by Drew

Did you mean for him to become such a big part of the podcast?

Drew: No, not in the beginning. It was just a natural thing.

Enya: I think it's just because we got closer to him as time went on. When we started the podcast, I did not know that fucker. I was like, “This is just Drew’s random ass white dude friend who is gonna help us. He knows what he's doing.” And then over time, we got closer to him so then we built a motion of how we interacted as friends off-camera, and then I think it just became natural.

Drew: It just bled into it.

Enya: You look over at somebody so much for a reaction from their laugh that at one point, you're like, “What are you thinking?” It also just felt weird to not acknowledge that someone else was there.

Drew: I think that's what sets our podcast apart from every other podcast is — I don't know if this is a good or a bad thing — but you feel like as a listener, you're a part of the conversation. I think not having Ky there, it would be excluding that part of the podcast.

Enya: In this episode that's coming out this Friday, Ky went to explain something to me about how computers work and I screamed so loud.

Drew: Actually, how do computers work though? How did we turn electricity into computers?

I feel like that's another great part of the podcast. You ask those kinds of questions that everyone has.

Enya: It actually blows my mind that anything exists.

Drew: Like, those people over there? Those are not real people. They're props in this Truman Show thing that's going on. Like, I don’t know if you’re real.

Enya: Drew is a crazy person. Our homie picked us up [from the airport] and in the car, they were like, “So, what are you guys going to do while you’re here?” And we were like, “Oh, we have an interview thing,” and Drew — he had not mentioned this to me before and didn’t say that this is his worry — goes, “It's probably a hit piece. It’s probably a hit job.” And then him saying that freaked me out. This morning, I woke up and I was genuinely going through it. I was like, “Dude, what if she asks me a question that hurts my feelings? How am I going to act? Oh my God.”

Why do you think that Emergency Intercom worked out and stuck around and not Radio Is Dead?

Enya: [Radio Is Dead] was when I was living in Miami and I didn’t have friends in Miami. I would go to LA and see if Drew or my friend Tina [Woods] or Emma [Chamberlain] or anybody was around. And that wasn't a good setup because although I was friends with all those people, it wasn't people I spoke to a lot so there wasn't like a natural flow there. I think I literally just needed Drew. I needed Drew and also to not be living in Miami.

I feel like both of you guys — definitely Enya — but both of you kind of have this it-girl status. What has that been like?

Enya: I could go on like the craziest tangent about this because even acknowledging that opens the door for so many people to be like, “Oh, this bitch wishes,” and all this crazy energy. I just like clothes and I enjoy expressing myself style-wise and in every medium. And for that to have an effect to any extent is really crazy. Because I am like an ego-filled maniac and I have individualism like… syndrome. But I think it's sweet at this point. I think as I get older, I'm less like that. Because I see young people like the things I do and follow those steps and I find that endearing because I remember what it was like being young and looking at my style icons. I think of me being 14 and being like, “I want to be like Sky Ferreira.”

Drew: Yass.

Enya: I wanted to serve like Sky Ferreira meets Lana meets Beyoncé meets The 1975, all of those...

Drew: One Direction.

Enya: I would never take style advice from those fuckers.

The suspenders?

Enya: I say that like I didn't buy red suspenders because of Louis. But I don't think I answered your question. It's just crazy. I don't know.

Drew: And I'm the Drew-print.

Enya: You were holding that in like your life depended on it.

Drew: I let you finish. I’m not an it-person. At all. I’m simply just me.

Enya: I think definitely your comedy bleeds into so many people's lives without them knowing, if anything. You are the Drew-print for a lot of people.

Photo by Josiah

I think it's so funny because both of you joke about being narcissistic and egomaniacs, but you're coming across as very humble to me.

Drew: Thank you.

Enya: [Pretends to cry.]

I know this [podcasting/radio hosting] is something that you [Enya] always wanted to do. Was that something that you ever thought you were gonna do, Drew?

Drew: No. Never. I never dreamed about a career in entertainment ever. I think everybody has aspirations really young like, “I want to be an actor. I want to be a star,” but very early on I was very logical about my career path. And then two years into school, my career started blossoming online and I was like, “I have this golden opportunity in front of me and I would be stupid not to take it and pursue it for as long and as far as it can go.”

What do you guys think your younger selves would say if they saw you right now?

Drew: I haven't ever actually thought about that. He would be like, “Wait, we're not playing baseball? What the fuck is a podcast?” He’d be like, “You're a fucking weirdo. You need to get a grip.”

Enya: Mine would be tweaked out. Mine would be like, “Damn girl. You’re alive, though?” I think 14-year-old me would literally be freaked out but I would find myself funny.

Drew: You’re hilarious.

Enya: No, not funny as in like, “Oh, she's funny.” I would find myself funny like, “Damn, you're weird as fuck,” because younger me was still on Miami mode. But no, I would be so happy because all I wanted was to do radio hosting or journalism.

I saw that you guys haven’t really done any interviews before. Is there a reason?

Drew: No one recognizes… real recognize real. You’re literally our first interview. The industry does not recognize us.

Enya: [The industry] does not fuck with us. Sometimes it pisses me off but then I'm like, “Maybe I'm being big-headed,” because I wish we were taken more seriously. Sometimes we get in our head and see our peers and be like, “Damn, what did they do right that we're doing wrong?”

Drew: Not talk about sex so much.

Enya: Maybe. Me being like, “Why don't more brands want to fuck with me?” as if we don't start every episode like, “My coochie itches.”

I thought maybe it was because you share so much on the internet already.

Drew: Yeah, it could be that as well. But I think there is a disconnect. I don't think people see — this is where I get unhumble in the interview [laughs] — but I don't think people see our actual influence. I don't think they can create the connection in their head like, “Oh, this came from them,” and this and this and this. It just gets watered down after a while and I don't think the connections are very visible.

Enya: I think a big part of the reason [is] the people who like us are freaks the way we are freaks.

Drew: Very individualist.

Enya: Yeah, like, “I die hard for this thing.” It's ye olden tale of when the person you fuck with starts to get more attention and you're like, “No,” ‘cause part of you is like, “This is my thing.” That's part of why our audience fucks with us because this thing is like, “If you know, you know.”

Photo by Enya

You guys have shared your life online for so long. Is there anything that you regret putting out there? Or a part of you that you don't share anymore?

Enya: I don't know if regret is the right word. But I think there's definitely parts of me that I didn't need to put out there. As I get older and — I hate saying this — as we become more popular, I find myself holding off more personal things. I would like for there to be boundaries. Although I don't hate the idea of parasocial relationships via any sort of creative and the consumer, because that's part of why it works. I used to be a kid who needed someone to live vicariously through to get me through things, so I fully understand that. But as those relationships can become a little more dangerous, all I care about now is keeping personal things sacred. I used to be more open about my family life and what I was up to every day. As I get older, I keep that sacred not only for my well-being but for my safety, for my sanity, because we do give a lot of ourselves to the public.

Specifically, I think about my YouTube life. That's what I think about when I’m like, “Do I regret putting anything up?” I have — and people were mad about this — privated a lot of my older videos. I know that those videos were a source of comfort for a lot of people but as I get older I'm so ever-changing that I don't want… The only thing I regret or dislike is anything that is showing a past me.

Drew: I think my biggest regret is starting the internet so early, like age-wise. I was still developing.

Still are.

Drew: Yeah, exactly. I was fully depressed and anxious and having panic attacks every night and then all of a sudden I got this huge audience thrusted onto me, which fucked with my head even more. That just completely skewed my perception of life for years and then in the middle of that I was so confused at what was going on in my brain that I started to self-medicate with different substances and things and it kind of spiraled. I wish I did just exist how I was intended to.

Enya: But if you existed how God intended you to, you would be building houses.

Drew: Exactly, I would be at war.

Enya: I think personally, I needed the internet. I needed to know that there was other things and other people and people feeling the way I did and struggling. My only regret is putting so much of myself out there so young because then you get this coping style of putting yourself out there. Now, at this age, I think that's a really unhealthy thing.

Drew: The only shining light through starting the internet so early is I was such a closeted weirdo in school. I put on this mask to fit in with the popular kids or whatever. With the internet, I got to live out this fantasy that I couldn't live out in shithole middle-of-Texas. With that, I found people who were like-minded — Enya, Josh [Ovalle], Lucas [Ovalle], Josiah, Orion [Carloto], Christian [Akridge] — all of them. I built a literal family from the internet.

Another thing I have to know about is the podcast set. Do you just leave it up all the time?

Enya: No. It is a fucking nightmare.

Drew: It sucks balls.

Enya: Our table… It's the ugliest table ever. We bought it when we first moved. It is the ugliest dining table I've ever seen on this godforsaken planet.

Drew: It’s terrible. It’s so heavy.

Enya: It gets caught in all the grooves on the tile so it fucking shakes and it feels like the glass is gonna shatter and we have to drag this heavy table over and then move all the chairs.

Drew: It is a fucking nightmare.

Enya: Yeah, but we have a system down.

Drew: Yeah, I set it up in the morning, and then Ky and Enya break it down after we record.

Enya: It is very embarrassing. We’ve got to get a better system going.

Drew: I think a lot of the charm of it is where it is. I feel like people would be like, “Why the fuck did they upgrade the set?”

Enya: Calling a human this is crazy, but a higher-end guest coming into our shitty little setup would be so funny.

Drew: The only reason we haven't is because we hate our fucking couch and if someone walked into our house and saw that disgusting couch, I would be like, “Okay, like…”

Who's the dream guest? Who's the goal?

Drew: Anybody who we think is cool. Early on, we were like, “When we have guests, they don't have to be a celebrity or anything.” I love the idea of pulling a random motherfucker off the street and putting them out on the floor and interviewing them, just as long as they're interesting, cool and can understand the joke.

Enya: I don't know if we have a dream guest.

Drew: I know who it is. Miss Coco Montrese. We need the tea on her dance number in [RuPaul's Drag Race] All Stars Season 2.

Enya: I was gonna say our dream guest for a minute was HRH but she's so scary and terrifying and I don't actually want to ever interact with her.

Drew: Someone got Trisha Paytas’ number, called Trisha Paytas as Enya, had a 34-second conversation saying, “Hey, it's Enya from Emergency Intercom, will you be on the podcast?” and I don't know where that ended up, but I saw someone talking about it, which is crazy. But I would be terrified to have my idol on. I don't think I can talk to my idol in a serious capacity.

Photo by Drew

Who is your idol?

Drew: I have a few. This is a problematic idol of mine but RuPaul. I love RuPaul. She eats. But like Tyler [the Creator], Frank [Ocean], those people. But I could never have a serious conversation in front of thousands of people.

Enya: This is the most annoying thing ever but I don't know that I had anyone I idolized like that. My mind is going, “I have people who I love and they're everything,” like Chloë Sevigny and Natasha Lyonne. Actually, I would love to talk to Natasha.

Drew: Another dream guest of ours is fucking Josh and Orion. Those are also two people that I literally idolize. Unironically, I idolize Josh. I think he’s a fucking genius. But those motherfuckers just won't be on. Actually, no, Orion will be on, but that's our bad because we want to do something special for her.

Enya: Yeah, I want to do something spectacular and, annoyingly, visually beautiful. I literally need Orion's episode to be filmed on 16mm [film]. That would be so fucking funny.

Continuing on with the set… Drew’s chair. On a scale from this bench to—

Drew: This is the most uncomfortable bench I have ever sat on, but this is a thousand times more comfortable. I'm not kidding, that chair has given me irreversible spinal damage. I actually had scoliosis going into it but now I look at myself in the mirror and I'm tilted to the side. It's crazy. Not to mention, I read about that material after I've been sitting in it for like 18 weeks and it’s carcinogenic, so now I have ass cancer.

You made it, right?

Drew: Yes. I want to be on record saying this…

Enya: Humble hat off.

Drew: …I did the spray foam shit first and then all the other girlies stole it from me.

I have to say, I do think it makes a little more sense the way other people do it.

Drew: Yeah, when it’s cute, actually.

Enya: When it's not on something you put your bare ass on.

As YouTubers, what’s your take on YouTube being dead? Do you have any YouTubers that you watch consistently anymore?

Drew: I think the YouTube that we all fell in love with died but I think it was built on really bad shit, expiring shit. But I think there is a new style of YouTube coming out, which is long-form content. I think people just got so tired of this animated bullshit and now they're like, “Oh, I don't need to see a video cut every three seconds with a loud sound effect and a zoom.” I think people are finally maturing in their brains. People are now going to this more long-form, borderline educational content. At least for me, all I watch on YouTube is microscope videos and Call of Duty YouTubers.

Enya: Call of Duty and Fortnite YouTubers.

When you're talking about those old videos, the ones with the quick cuts, are you talking about your old style of content?

Drew: Yeah, exactly. My old, super sound effect, loud videos. That's another thing. I invented that YouTube style. That's another conversation for later. I've never gotten my flowers for that. Never once.

Enya: I don't know that I think YouTube is dead. I can't think of YouTube videos I've watched, though. I watch Channel 5

Drew: Brittany [Broski] and Sarah [Schauer]’s podcast.

I feel like you’ve mentioned some commentary YouTubers before.

Drew: Drew Gooden. Drew fucking eats. Boots.

Enya: I have never missed a Drew Gooden video. Yeah, I think YouTube still exists. But maybe not in the way… I think of that 2017, VidCon, weird parasocial but these people weren’t being real. When you're watching YouTube, part of what makes it appealing is the reality of it. You know you're not tapping into a scripted show. You're tapping into this thing that feels a little based in reality. Unless you're doing something that's hyperreality, like Drew fucking proposing to me. I think all of it became really regurgitated and almost terrifying to watch because it’s so not human-like.

Photo by Josiah

What is the Drewth?

Drew: This is all I’ll say: The Drewth is spreading. That's all you need to know. If you really want to know more about it, tap in.

Enya: You know what’s so annoying about the whole “Drewth” thing is it is real. Like, it is a joke, but it is so real. Like Drew genuinely believes that he has the key.

Would you ever do an Emergency Intercom tour?

Drew: Yes, we would. But it would be very different from what people would expect it to be. We have had conversations about doing it with a tour company and stuff but we're very much control freaks. We would want it to be the biggest, best thing possible like, cell phones locked up, can't record. Borderline stand-up comedy, which I'm terrified of and I would never ever fucking do because I would suck balls at it. But yeah, eventually, if the cards fall in the right places. But I don't know if it will ever actually come to fruition.

Enya: We've gone on tour and it drove me crazy because it wasn't exactly what we wanted it to be. But if there was a world where we could do it exactly how we wanted, I think we would. If we had the right production budget to do something insane. All these companies want us to do something that's simple and cheap to make a bag and we're like, “I don't care.”

Drew: No promises.

If there was an Emergency Intercom drinking game, what would people drink to?

Drew: Every time I said “like.” That would kill.

Enya: Alcohol poisoning. I think I say “like” a lot too.

Drew: “Like,” and any time we talk about shit.

Enya: Any time we break for a sexual joke.

Drew: Any time I create a silence.

Enya: I thought you meant like, “What would they drink at the drinking game based on Emergency Intercom?” And I was like, “That's a weird question.”

What would they drink?

Drew: Piss.

Photos courtesy of Emergency Intercom