Podcast Duo Behind “Emergency Intercom ”Debut New Merch: It Reflects 'the Love We Have with Each Other' (Exclusive)

In their first interview since August 2022, the comedians behind the hit podcast tells PEOPLE about their most “referential” designs yet

<p>Emergency Intercom</p>

Emergency Intercom

'Emergency Intercom' hosts Drew Phillips and Enya Umanzor model their merch

Enya Umanzor and Drew Phillips’ approach to designing clothes is the same approach they have to, well, everything: “If you know, you know.”

In other words, the Emergency Intercom hosts are the masterminds behind one of the loudest, most unfiltered podcasts on the internet, but their merch (including their latest drop, live May 17) is anything but.

The endlessly quotable duo is responsible for tons of viral TikTok clips (“Why would a man be there?” and “Your honor, I’m slaying,” to name a few) but you won’t catch them simply slamming slogans on shirts. (Not that they judge those who do — they were barely out of the theater when they both copped the viral Challengers “I TOLD YA” graphic T-shirt.)

And though their appearances are memorable — they each have Instagram accounts dedicated to posting their “lookalikes” — you will never see a piece of official merch with either of their faces on it, Umanzor tells PEOPLE.

The Miami native says that when she and Phillips — both of whom gained notoriety on Vine (R.I.P.) and then YouTube — first shot to online stardom, she "was okay with the idea of printing my face on a shirt.

“And then as I got older,” she says, “that seemed like the most ludicrous act I could commit in my whole life.”

So when the longtime friends were conceptualizing the art for Emergency Intercom ahead of its July 2021 pilot, they felt a bit stuck. "Me and Drew just couldn't fathom the idea of our cover art being ourselves,” Umanzor says. “It just felt a little bizarre.”

Instead, taking inspiration from Japanese label Hysteric Glamour and New York-based brand HAPPY99, they designed characters (Umanzor’s “devious girl” and Phillips' “crazy guy with tongue out”) to encapsulate the versions of themselves they present on the podcast.

“We just liked the idea of a mascot and just kind of personification of who our characters are,” Umanzor says. “Not that we necessarily play characters on the podcast, but to a certain extent we are zhuzhing up our natural personalities for it.”

The caricatures are now synonymous with the Emergency Intercom brand. But to the untrained eye (or non-“rotted” brain, as Phillips phrases it) they are just really cool art — and that’s exactly what the hosts love about it.

“I feel like making merch that we would personally enjoy is difficult if the whole basis is just our faces and things we're saying,” Umanzor says, and Phillips chimes in: “I wear the s--- out of the shirts we make.”

“I feel like that's kind of rare,” he adds. “But I rock the s--- out of it, ‘cause it looks cool.”

For their latest merch drop (which the hosts timed with big news: they signed with TMG Studios and moved the podcast to a professional set) the duo enlisted the help of their friend, STRAY RATSJulian Consuegra — who is also the “savant” behind all of their previous merchandise, Phillips says.

<p>Emergency Intercom</p> Enya Umanzor models 'Emergency Intercom' merch

Emergency Intercom

Enya Umanzor models 'Emergency Intercom' merch

One of the designs — a fitted, periwinkle baby tee — was inspired by cartoonist and “Love is…” creator Kim Casali. More specifically, the top nods to a ringer tee featuring one of Casali’s designs that was famously worn by Clementine (Kate Winslet) in 2006’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

The design took the podcasters’ beloved “mascots” and, with Consuegra’s help, adapted them into Casali’s style — which started off as love notes the cartoonist gave to her husband — including their spin on her accompanying captions: “Love is… constantly interrupting each other.”

Recalling how she decided on the concept, Umanzor tells PEOPLE, “I feel like there are always so many comments about us interrupting each other and sometimes the comments can be a bit judgmental, which I do understand. … But to me and Drew, we've never been offended by each other.”

“My hot take is that it's actually a good sign if two people who love each other can just talk and don't feel interrupted,” she adds. “Because I'm like, ‘See, all the pride and ego is removed from that conversation and it's just two idiots going back and forth.’ ”

So, while inspecting one of her cups that features Casili’s artwork, Umanzor says she thought to herself: “Love is literally just interrupting each other. That's all it is.”

<p>Emergency Intercom</p> Enya Umanzor and Drew Phillips model 'Emergency Intercom' merch

Emergency Intercom

Enya Umanzor and Drew Phillips model 'Emergency Intercom' merch

When it came time to create a traditional T-shirt for the drop, it was Phillips that had the vision. And, taking inspiration from his ironically titled “Drew’s Psyop Corner” segment, Consuegra once again brought it to life — this time drawing on another 2000s cult classic film: Natural Born Killers.

“It was mainly just giving an idea to Julian and then letting him f------ cook,” Phillips says of the design.

And, once again, if you have never watched the purposefully misnomered segment — in which Phillips simply reads memes aloud — the T-shirt design, emblazoned with text like “wanted for psychological warfare” and “true madness,” will make little to no sense.

“Let it live on a shirt and confuse people,” Umanzor says of the graphic, adding, “I think that Drew's main joy in life is confusing people.”

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<p>Emergency Intercom</p> Drew Phillips models 'Emergency Intercom' merch

Emergency Intercom

Drew Phillips models 'Emergency Intercom' merch

For the only warm-weather piece in the mini collection — a simple, ‘90s-style gray crewneck — Umanzor nodded to a different artist, and referenced a piece of well-loved merch in her own closet. “The crewneck, I literally love wearing. I have a Sling one from Clairo from when I saw her live," she says, adding that it's a "reference to someone I love.”

All of these references, both to Emergency Intercom highlights and their favorite media, set this mini drop apart from their previous merchandise, per the hosts.

"I think these designs are more referential than our other ones,” Umanzor says. “I feel like both of the shirts, the ‘Love is’ and the ‘Psyop’ shirt, are so referential to the way we speak and actual antics of the podcast.”

Plus, arguably more importantly, “it's commentating on the love we have with each other," she adds.

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