24.01.2020 | Words by: Hannah Pezzack
Nomadism is a core part of Elena Colombi’s identity. Originally hailing from Italy, she spent much of her childhood travelling South East Asia. Following a long stint in London, she moved to Brussels and then to Amsterdam. Her mixes are characterised by this transitory spirit, easily recognisable for their colourful resonance and sharp, momentous transitions between plodding techno, post-punk, industrial soundscapes and textured ambient. Via a monthly NTS radio slot as well as contributions to FACT, Crack, Beats In Space and Digital Tsunami, she has established a reputation for purveying unique, innovative tracks from an archive of unheard-of artists.
Despite only arriving in the Netherlands five months ago, she has already made a huge impression on the local scene, appearing at Dekmantel, De School and on Intergalactic FM, alongside other bookings in celebrated venues and festivals around Europe. “When I was in Belgium, an invisible, powerful energy kept on taking me to Amsterdam. So after a bit of time between the two cities, I decided to move”, Elena laughs. Her flowing Italian accent is cut with Anglicisms, a remnant of ten years in the UK. Does she miss London? “It's a city that played a very important part in my life and shaped who I am to a certain degree. But I decided to move because that was what I needed. I wasn't born nostalgic, new adventures are my fuel!” Q: You’ve literally just come back from India. Welcome home! How was it?
A: India was a regular destination for family holidays when I was a child. I found myself wondering if I'd have strong flashbacks once I arrived - and I did! Some things haven't changed at all, whilst the clubbing scene seems to have exploded lately! The mini-tour was short but really sweet. I arrived on Thursday and left again late on Monday night, performing in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune. Each show was very different - venue, crowd, set time - which made each experience more unique. Q: Do you prefer radio to a club dancefloor?
A: Playing on the radio gives the freedom to wander off in many different directions, allowing for even riskier turns, disregarding tempo changes and energy levels completely. Something that in my opinion in a club environment can be only done at rare, special gigs. I’m actually really looking forward to warming up at De School tonight. I love the liminal times - either right at the start or the end - that allow you to really play with transitions and tempo. I don’t have a preference between the two formats though, I truly enjoy them both!Q: On NTS there is an especially great recording from a venue called Arkaoda in Berlin. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
A: Ah! The show that almost didn't happen because on the same weekend I had an all-nighter at Sameheads (a place I am always happy to go back to whenever I get the chance). Frans Ambient, one of the bookers of Arkaoda, owner of Kashual Plastik (and one half of a new project that will release on my label) really wanted me for a show too. We agreed on the basis it will be a secret listening session, very different from the Sameheads set; a sitting down experience.
Like all of my sets, there was no pre-planning but after listening back I thought it was pretty good so I decided to use it for NTS.Q: How do you discover new music?
A: Whenever possible I prefer a personal connection with the music and artists. This could start with someone bringing a record or CD to a show or me reaching out to an artist or label after I discovered them. Human contact is fundamental for me and by gigging so much I know I have the power to connect to even more people and push artist and labels that I think deserve more attention.Q: Your record label Osàre! Editions was established in Autumn 2019. The upcoming release is retrospective of the little-known Greek producer Thanasis Zlatanos. What led you to him?
A: A few years back a friend sent me a bunch of mp3s including Zlatanos’ second album ARTificial.
I was fascinated by his music and tried buying everything I could find online, which took quite some time as all the physical copies came from Greece and several packages got lost.
I spoke about him to lots of people and soon realised no one really knew who he was. So I decided to track him down and see whether he'd be up for having some of his music re-pressed.
This is way before I knew I was going to start a label. In a roundabout way, he's the reason Osàre now exists!Q: And what about The King Of Snake? The very first release?
A: The King Of Snake release happened really fast. At the time I was working on setting up the label and slowly preparing the Zlatanos release, although I didn’t have a fixed date in mind. Then Matt (TWINS / DKA) sent me a message with a link to the music he had made with Ernestas Sadau (of Digital Tsunami) under this new intriguing moniker. At the first listen I knew this needed to be on Osàre! And it happened. Q: Let’s finish things off by looking ahead: what do you want from 2020?
A: I really want to finish some music! Watch this space… Elena Colombi plays our basement tonight alongside Jennifer Cardini and Lokier. Tickets are still available here and at the door.