SAT Dômesicle | Elena Colombi, a lot from the head for the body

Interview by Alain Brunet
Genres and styles : Électronique

Additional Information

After reading her bio profiles (more specifically the one on Futura Artists website) and having a few listening sessions of her great stuff, we ask a few questions to Elena Colombi before her coming at SAT Domesicle series, on Saturday June 8, late evening.

Born in Italy, Elena Colombi relocated to London in 2008 and got involved in parties that made her popular in that circle of friends and young emerging artists. Then she became a talented DJ and radio host on NTS, while she was experiencing her broad influences and inspirations: industrial, techno, ambient, synth pop, disco, house, non occidental music and conceptual sets well above average.  Since 2019, she has also collaborated as a key member with the record label Osàre! Editions’ – the namesake derives from the Italian word for “daring” or “bold” –  seeking experimentation and idiosyncratic ways of making electronic music.

“Elena Colombi’s sets are geared toward the unexpected. From cosmic psychedelia and pounding jungle to obscure post-punk and spoken word, they swirl through a cerebral world of noise.”

PAN M 360 : Can you describe briefly your musical path, from your teenage years to your first professional engagements?

Elena Colombi: As a young child, my introduction to music that wasn’t accessible via standard means was a mixed cassette tape a friend of the family made. This guy had an incredible knowledge of music! I’m grateful for those discoveries. 

My parents didn’t own any records.. I don’t come from a musical background. As a kid I played only two instruments: the recorder and the bass (both badly!). As a teenager, I spent late nights recording videos from MTV on VHS tapes. The kinda stuff that wasn’t on rotation during the day. And at weekends I would travel by bus to Milan with my best friends to check out gigs in “centri sociali”. One night we missed the last bus and unexpectedly ended up at an afterparty. That was my first introduction to a club. We were so naive! 

A few years later I did an internship at a booking agency and my spreadsheet skills were so bad that the owners gave me a chance as an assistant promoter instead. I was a natural! So I promoted nights for a while. Then I felt the music scene in Milan was too limited so I took a chance and moved to London. From there, the parties I ran for several years (Abattoir and BREED), as well as the slot on NTS radio and a DJ set at Rye Wax that many people ended up talking about, all contributed to the beginning of the regular touring.

PAN M 360 : How did your musical tastes evolved through your professional career ?

Elena Colombi : I’m not sure the music taste changes really. It expands, for sure! Often, fans/listeners make associations with one set or one recorded show in particular—especially if the set becomes very popular. The “label” or “genre” most prominent in that show sticks to the artist and it’s hard to untangle from that. I want to fight this as hard as I can! I love to be able to play completely different sets and wouldn’t want my way of performing to be any different.

“ A longstanding resident of NTS, an interest in theory and literature, aesthetics and film, inspire their avant-garde selections. Spiritually, they’re most at home in the club serving up a concoction of pulsating polyrhythms, industrial groove and flexed techno.”

PAN M 360: Your interests in other art forms and the intellectual world is clearly impacting your musical choices, which is a great thing. Can you give some examples of this very interesting relationship between your craft and your own intellectual universe?

Elena Colombi: Yes, it all intersects! I think it would be impossible to separate interests, personal life experiences, discoveries, as well as events happening in the world from creating.

PAN M 360: : Are you involved in different art events that combine all your interests 

Elena Colombi: No, not all of them—that would be dreamy—but definitely more of them! I love wearing the curator hat more often, for instance. In fact, I might be working right now on creating a series of experimental music-centered events for next year.

PAN M 360 : What is your gear? How do you build your pieces with this gear?

Elena Colombi : What I use at the moment in my studio in Hastings is: SOMA Pulsar 23, Roland SH01A Boutique, Elektron Model Samples, Meris Polymoon pedal, Roland 303 Boutique. I’m experimenting with the connectibility and dialogue between some of these instruments, and I’m working on a series of improvised live sets, some of them premiering this year and continuing in 2025.

PAN M 360: And now you are coming in Montréal. What kind of set are you preparing for us?

Elena Colombi : I never fully know what I will play until I enter the club. It’s my first time performing in Canada so this applies even more.  Right now I am thinking of a more trippy set maybe?! But this could be because I only landed last night and feel pretty jet-lagged, hehe. Once I arrive at the space and feel the energy, feel the crowd I’ll be able to decide on the spot what direction to take. I can’t wait!

PAN M 360 : How do you see the link between improvisation and composition?

Elena Colombi: I see the link between improvisation and composition as a continual, promiscuous exchange between spontaneity and structure, chaos and order, innovation and form. A beautiful, dynamic marriage, nurturing and challenging in equal parts.

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