2022-02-14 / Endel

Dmitry Evgrafov: Our world in motion

Heads with the lines

We talk to Endel co-founder and composer, Dmitry Evgrafov, about the inner workings of Move and Clarity Trip, collaborating with Miguel, the hurdles the team had to overcome, and much more.

What was the initial inspiration behind Move and Clarity Trip?

“From the very inception of Endel, we had the idea of doing a soundscape based on movement — something that follows you as you’re walking, running, or cycling. Our first experiments started in 2018, but we couldn’t find a proper way of doing it: it was either too repetitive or too distracting. It didn’t feel like the user was in control. This summer, we found a way of doing it.”

So, how do they work?

“The technology is the most complex tech we’ve used so far. We gather the information given by the phone — but that’s just the beginning. There’s a lot more magic behind it. It’s all about interpreting and analyzing this data. For example, you might be moving at a very steady pace, but then you stop at a road crossing, at a red light. Something needs to happen to the music, but it can’t be too significant, as it will distract the listener.”

“The soundscapes not only follow your pace but also your heart rate. According to our research, we found it’s possible to modulate someone’s heart rate using sonic cues. There is a certain positive correlation. If you’re outside of your normal boundaries and have a very high heart rate, Endel adapts the BPM to lower your heart rate and help you feel calmer.”

Lines and circles

What were the biggest obstacles when developing these soundscapes?

“There are so many conditions people experience during exercise that we had to keep in mind. We have to cover a huge range of BPMs, from 60 BPM all the way through to 170 BPM. If you start running rapidly without a gradual build-up, the soundscapes have to react to that. Humans are not very keen on constant rhythm and tempo changes in music — people like stability and to be able to expect the changes in musical patterns. It was a constant battle between technology, science, and musical theory.”

Finding that balance must have been difficult. How did you decide which instrumental elements to use during specific interactions?

“We were at a crossroads with which instruments and sounds to use: we always are. We don’t want to play the game of genre and open this Pandora’s box. The faster 160-170 BPM tempos found in these soundscapes are usually associated with hardcore electronic music such as Jungle or Drum and Bass, but if you make the beat very light, it becomes very abstract. At Endel, we don’t classify our soundscapes as music. As a composer, that is very liberating.”


How are Move and Clarity Trip different from other Endel soundscapes?

“These soundscapes are gamified in a way: we don’t introduce new elements until the listener has spent a certain amount of time within a certain state — such as a stroll, fast walk, jog, or fast-paced run. This gives the listener an incentive to continue their exercise.”

Clarity Trip is a partnership with R&B musician Miguel — how did the collaboration work?

“Before reaching out to Miguel, we designed a demo version of our Move soundscape to share with him during our conversation. This gave him a good reference point to see how the technology works, and hopefully a little inspiration on what his soundscape could be. We had to explain how the Endel engine works, as it requires very specific elements. Such sophisticated software requires a very special approach, musically.”

How do you think Move and Clarity Trip will benefit listeners when walking, hiking, or running?

“We feel it’s going to benefit the listeners’ health. People will be encouraged to exercise for longer and be more engaged when they are active. Whether running, walking, or standing still, it really feels like you’re being heard. All of us dream of having a soundtrack to our life.”