Student DJ: ‘I’d drive from High Wycombe to Brighton and then I’d drive back at 5am’

Clara interviews Elliot Sanfilippo: DJ, music artist and university student, for SCENE.

(Image: Club Salvation York)

Elliot Sanfilippo is a York nightclub DJ, jointly producing music under the alias ‘2FOLD’, and studying Music Production in Leeds.

While most known in York for his ‘cheesy classics’ Saturday Salvos set in Room 2, Elliot has certainly made the rounds of the favourite York nightclubs, appearing in Revs, Flares and Kuda; if you enjoy a night out, you’ll undoubtedly have had a boogie to his tracks.

Elliot’s DJ career started in high school in St Andrews, when he was paid to DJ for the Christmas dances. At the age of seventeen, he began playing a regular Friday set in the town’s lively bar, The Rule: “I was doing it for free, I feel like that’s the best way to start out… it’s not like I could even enter these places because of my age, but to be able to just work there and play was good enough.”

Since then, Elliot’s DJ career has expanded across many UK cities and towns, including Brighton, Manchester, Leeds, York, and High Wycombe. He puts a lot of his success down to his commitment: “I’d drive from High Wycombe to Brighton and then I’d drive back at 5am… I was taking whatever got offered to me.”

He tells me of the difficulty in becoming a successful DJ in Leeds, a city full of aspiring DJs: “everyone wants to be a DJ when they first come to uni for freshers, so obviously everyone wants to break into this DJ circle. “

“There’s a main group of DJs in Leeds that all get booked for the same gigs because they’ve worked really hard to get there. It’s hard to get yourself in there, but networking really is key.”

As for advice for any DJs starting out, Elliot emphasises the importance of perseverance and reaching out to others: “the amount of people I would message saying ‘You got any opportunities?’. You can’t expect something just like that. You approach someone, go for a pint with them or something, and then go and see them play – you’ve got to support other people as well.”

I ask Elliot his process for preparing a set: “I’ve never prepared like, ‘I’m going to play this one first, this song second, third, fourth’…It’s all about reading the crowd… if they feel a little bit tired, you do a bit of a slow song, get people to the bar to get drinks, and then come back and start it up again.”

As for nightclub guidelines, there’s not always a lot of freedom to choose what to play: “you’ve got to prioritise what the crowd wants to hear rather than what you want to play yourself. Sometimes you might rather play something different to the music policy, but they’re your employers at the end of the day, and it’s more fun playing things that are received well anyway!”

Elliot tells me more about what it’s like to DJ in York, his favourite place to play: “DJing in York is so much fun. I don’t know what it is about York – I’ve had this chat with Jason Reilly as well and he agrees with me – it’s just a nice crowd every time… Brighton was fun, but I prefer York.  

Elliot’s crazy Salvos story is surprisingly tame: “it was like my second week in, and someone unplugged my DJ controller and the music cut out… I take a step back, and there’s someone sitting underneath the booth, hiding. I didn’t see him walk in; I had no idea how he got there. I literally jumped out of my skin.”

As well as DJing, Elliot releases his own music under the alias 2FOLD with his friend Fraser Laing. While Elliot is based in York, and Fraser in Edinburgh, the long distance doesn’t impact their work: “because it’s electronic music you can make it wherever, whenever. I’ll start something and then I’ll send it to him, and he’ll finish it and vice versa.”

At the moment, 2FOLD’s tracks don’t entirely fall under one genre: “if someone was to go onto our Spotify and listen to some of the songs, there isn’t a sound. They’re all different. The reason behind that is because we just wanted to get something out there, we wanted to start.”

The duo take inspiration from well-known artist John Summit: “he is like the wannabe guy for both of us. He makes a lot of the commercial stuff that you’d hear on the radio, but he also makes a lot of underground stuff that he’ll play out when he plays his sets.”

As for the future, Elliot is happy with his workload, but hopes 2FOLD will continue to grow: “we’ve had an idea to keep all of the commercial stuff on 2FOLD, and have another alias where we would be able to make underground stuff, so basically, we’d get the best of both worlds… To make music full-time is obviously what I want to do… It is the dream, but it’s very hard to get there.”

If you want to hear more of DJ Elliot Sanfilippo, follow his Instagram @elliotsanfilippo_ to keep updated on his latest gigs. Alternatively, you can hear his set every Saturday in Salvos Room 2!

To hear more of 2FOLD, you can follow them on Instagram @2foldmusic, or listen to their tracks on Spotify.