Rachael Williams lives and breathes night life. Whether it’s in her day job as a booker for the cult London rave-cave Rye Wax, as a promoter, a DJ or just a general party instigator, she has spent well over a decade at the coal face of the electronic music scene. As a gigging DJ she plays regularly up and down the country and even runs workshops for aspiring selectors. From the tiny backroom of a pub to the colossal rave complex of Printworks, Rachael always brings the same spirit and energy to the party.
Her energetic style covers many bases; from disco to techno via house and more obscure cuts but for this edition of Wemoto Radio she dug deep into her vaults to serve up a mix of Italo goodness that’s very close to her heart.
Tell me about your path into DJing. How long have you been collecting records and what gave you the inspiration to get behind the decks?
I actually started DJing 14 years ago haha. But I was rubbish and stopped for ages. I started again in 2012 when I worked as a booker at infamous gay club Dalston Superstore and really started collecting records in relative earnest. I got behind the decks as a perverse way to save money on lineups. But obviously any vinyl DJ will understand the mental gymnastics behind justifying that as a money saving mechanism hahaha.
Where did your love of Italo Disco come from?
I actually used to go to this Italo night at the Old Blue Last back in 2009 maybe? It was called Pearl Flash. So that was pretty formative in terms of the basics.
I love Italo because it's good/bad and cheesy and silly. It's bad haircuts and amazing outfits. Trying to sing along in a language you don't speak. And being notoriously impossible to mix properly on vinyl haha. It's just meant to be fun I think.
You have worked at the coalface of London nightlife for many years now, as a booker, promoter and DJ. What’s your prognosis of the health of the scene right now?
Honestly? I think the scene is super stagnant. I just see the same lineups over and over and it's really boring. But there's a lot at play here and I understand why promoters don't want to take risks right now.
Describe your digging process - drunken discogs rampages or studious scouring of the crates in a local record shop?
Youtube rabbit holes. Amazing Italo Facebook groups (s/o the brilliant Italo Nights group!). Endless Discogs wantlists. And I must give major credit to Brian Not Brian the second hand buyer at Rye Wax who puts gems aside for me <3
What’s the worst request you’ve ever had when you’re playing?
I spent YEARS playing out in gay clubs before I ventured into more heterosexual DJ booths haha so I'm basically immune to Rihanna requests now. It doesn't bother me. I have had people asking me to play MY favourite tune which I think is weird and also how on earth can I pick that.
What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
Field Manuevers last year was the most memorable and was basically pure interdimensional performance art. But maybe warming up for Italo legend Daniele Baldelli at Ministry of Sound for Feelings. Playing Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls 12" dance mix on that system is truly an experience.
When you’re not behind the turntables you’re working at the Peckham institution Rye Wax. How important are small independent venues like that to the ecosystem of London nightlife?
Small venues ARE community. Without grass roots you get these mega lineups that are alllllll the same. As a booker I try to push back on promoters coming to me with the same lineups as everyone else. Not because I don't rate the artists but I really value diversity in offering. Bring me something NOT on at Corsica Studios. Not on at every London summer festival. But it is hard to make money as a promoter so I totally understand that fear. I've been there (and lost money myself) but we have to remember to raise up other artists too.
You have another project called Ambient Basestation Meltdown. Describe that experience for our readers.
OH LORDY. Um. It's me cracking off key sex jokes over dub techno, slowed down industrial and drone. I've also now got a Theremin for it! Live performances do consist of me in lingerie making jokes about finding Madeleine McCann or laying eggs in people's mouths and I have loads of fake Babestation call-ins that I play along with weird vintage sample 7"s of pigs grunting or waves or something that I layer over the top of say Ron Morelli. If that description isn't intensely off putting then it's worth experiencing live hahahaha.
What have you got coming up that we should be aware of?
I'm supporting AnD and Cera Khin at The Cause at the end of March for Free From Sleep. I'll be in room 3 with Kmya all night playing, Italo, electroclash and techno.