Elena Colombi, a DJ and radio host whose inspired sets are not only open-minded and mind-altering but also seek to toy with the emotions of listeners and dancers via shifts in intensity, tone, light and shadow. Her distinctive approach is truly unique, in part thanks to a widescreen grasp of different musical cultures, sounds and rhythms, born out of travelling the world with her family from a young age.
This nomadic approach is something that Colombi still embraces.
Elena Colombi is now based in Amsterdam, since she began her journey through DJ culture, the Italian artist has prioritised energy and emotion over form and function, paying particular attention to obscure and undiscovered artists. As well as documenting her far-reaching taste via her monthly NTS shows, Elena has contributed outstanding mixes for F FACT and Crack Magazine, Beats In Space, Intergalactic FM, Digital Tsunami and Dekmantel, where she also took part in a live discussion with John Talabot on the Art of DJing, a panel that was recorded by Resident Advisor and later broadcast as part of the RA Exchange podcast series.On the festivals circuit she’s made appearances at Dekmantel, Club To Club, Nuits Sonores, ADE, Unsound and more, together with an annual residency for the boutique UK festival Field Maneuvers and a quarterly curated night at Belgrade’s Club Drugstore. Her outsider-led approach also gained recognition from the established art world, going back-to-back with homegrown Manchester legend Jon K at the Whitworth Art Gallery (a feat repeated at Atonal in Berlin), as well as bringing her selections to the Tate Modern in London for the Tate Lates series.
The different strands of Colombi’s DJ career are almost as diverse and otherworldly as her on-point selections, a reflection of her ability to translate her vast music knowledge and sets to differing environments. Yet it’s in clubs that her celebrated talents hit home hardest.
© Mai Nestor
Notes on Short Theatre 2020
How would you describe your music?
The music I select is like developing its own personality once it is put into action: it is a pure free spirit which always keeps an open mind, welcoming very different moods, sometimes it is a bit capricious and takes both the public and me by surprise!
Who or what—real or imaginary, present, past or future—do you think contributed to the creation of this work?
A travel spray containing a perfume made by me. Smell is the most mysterious sense in human beings, I find it quite fascinating and this little object over time became a little talisman I carry with me wherever I play!
What do you imagine you will say about this work in fifteen years time? Would you ever have imagined making such work fifteen years ago?
15 years ago I was in Italy, looking for a new path without knowing where I would end up. I still had no idea of the imminent move to London and not even that playing music professionally would have been my future.
In 15 years… well… who knows? will I play? I won’t play anymore? It is a mistery! Aniways, looking at my evolution in music as well as in my private life, I will definitely have a big smile.