BY KELLY BURNS & SEAN SONNEMANN
As the valet parked their car, Manhattan College student Chris Aurrichio and his friend, Zachary Gilbride, stood outside Club Pacha on West 46th Street last Thursday night. Yet the two weren’t just a couple of New York City college students out to party for the evening.
Inside a silver case resting by their feet, the DJing duo had their guaranteed entrance into the club that night: $1000 worth of sound equipment.
Aurrichio and Gilbride are the members of A2Z, a DJ service that has been mixing and playing live music professionally for over a year. Aurrichio is currently studying in the college’s School of Science, hoping to become a doctor. Gilbride, who Aurrichio considers “the real mastermind” behind the business, is taking accounting classes at Westchester Community College.
“For me, it’s tough because I’m a bio major, and this isn’t my only job,” Aurrichio said. “I’m a waiter, too. I have to balance school and this [DJing], and it’s very difficult at times. I try to do this on the weekends if I can.”
That Thursday night, Aurrichio planned on leaving the club immediately after his set finished at 1 a.m. because of the biology exam he had the next day. He planned to study for the test the following morning after just a few hours of sleep.
Managing schoolwork with the time required to prepare mixes is just one of the many challenges that come with the DJ business.
“I have to practice about maybe an hour and a half a day,” Gilbride said.
That practice time includes staying on top of new music trends, creating original mash-ups of songs and compiling set lists. Although they might spend hours crafting a set list with specific songs, the two usually end up deviating from the arrangement.
This hard work and dedication was obvious from the beginning of the duo’s set last Thursday.
Once inside the club, A2Z adjusted the sound quality for their set and began playing a mix of popular house and dance songs over the speakers. The night started off slowly, with only a handful of club-goers enjoying the mix.
The pair has also worked other gigs, including popular nightclubs, private birthday parties, graduation parties and school dances at Gilbride’s former elementary school.
Although they haven’t performed live for MC students, A2Z hopes to have an opportunity to do so in the near future.
“I’m working on that. I’m trying to set it up where I can DJ at Manhattan College area bars,” Aurrichio said.
At one point, the only dancer on the floor was a young man wearing reflective aviators and sucking on a lollipop. Still, Aurrichio and Gilbride were not discouraged by the sparse crowd, taking turns at the dials and bobbing their heads to the beats and bass drops pounding from the speakers.
The two worked as a team throughout the entire set, with one manning the headphones while the other tried to get more people to come to their section at Pacha.
The DJs’ camaraderie during the Pacha performance is a result of their long history together. Aurrichio and Gilbride first met at Fordham Preparatory High School in the Bronx. It was there where the basis for their stage name was created.
“In high school, everyone called Chris ‘Auricchio,’ and everyone called me Zach. So, it’s A to Z with the number 2 because it’s the two of us,” Gilbride explained, checking the beats per minute synchronization of two songs.
“The other name we had at first was Yellow Flamingo. It was the name of the Wi-Fi network in my house. My dad had set it up. I have no idea why he called it that,” Gilbride continued.
“It was a terrible name for us,” Aurrichio added.
As the night progressed, more people filled up the empty space on the dance floor. Eventually, a sizable crowd was moving beneath the strobe lights in rhythm to the music.
“I think they are awesome. They are the reason why I do my music. I’m a DJ, too, because I heard their stuff, and I was like, I might as well do the same thing,” Michael Marte said, a club-goer and fellow DJ from the College of Mount Saint Vincent.
Near the end of the set, one of the dancers in the crowd flashed a thumbs-up sign towards the DJ booth, signaling yet another successful night for A2Z and their turntables.