Rachael McCarville is Mistress Darkside and has been the most prominent rock and metal DJ in Barnsley over the last few years. And while various pubs and clubs shut up shop, changed management and most definitely changed their minds about hosting metal club nights, DJ Mistress Darkside has been out at see.
April 26th sees her return to the metal scene as she DJ’s for the Cavorts headlined gig at the current epicentre of live music in Barnsley, The Polish Club.
Rachael has previosuly DJ’d at Redeemer – Metal Hammer Clubnights in Yorkshire, Oxygen, Lucroum and RegentsPark. I caught up with her to find out a little more about her taste in music and DJ in Barnsley in general.
When did you start DJing?
I originally started Djing in 2002, mainly playing Hardhouse, Hard Trance and Hardcore. I have always been a fan of Rock/Metal and in 2007, I made the move into DJing that genre. Instantly, I knew it was what I wanted to play.
Many DJs are music fanatics and collect? What are your fave records in your collection?
There are way too many to list but a select few are:
I have quite an eclectic taste in music and never stick to just one style of music, this really helps me when putting a set together for a gig.
How did the Metal Hammer/Redeemer nights come about?
I was reading the Metal Hammer magazine and saw the advertisement for a new club night. Straight away I went onto the website and contacted them, we had a few emails going backwards and forwards about taste of music. They asked me to put together a set list. They then asked me to play a warm up set in Leeds in front of the management during their club night. The set was originally due to be 30 minutes and I ended up playing the full night! They then offered me the position. This led to working with a local promoter, DJing in four different cities and then running the night on my own.
Do you have any favourite moments from DJing?
Honestly there has been so many. My first ever gig as a DJ ranks right up there, which was playing a set at Off the Rails in Sheffield, which was a Hard House/Trance club. The most exciting part was warming up for BK, who is a well known international Hardhouse DJ and Producer.
My first gig as a Metal/Rock DJ at Oxygen in Barnsley, I remember walking in and the manager asked if i could do about 40 minutes while the resident DJ took a break. The club was pretty full but no one was really dancing. I stepped up, dropped the first song and near enough the whole place ran on the dancefloor and it took off! I remember turning round to look at the manager who was simply smiling and then laughed! I ended up working there until it closed.
Working for Metal Hammer at the Redeemer Clubnight in Wakefield was fantastic. Every night was amazing; the peoples energy levels, taste in music, I made so many new friends and contacts just through those nights. Good Times! Seeing my Name and Picture in the Metal Hammer Promotions too. Playing a warm up and after party for Skindred when they played at Blackflag in Wakefield and playing Bomfest were all amazing too!
You spent a lot of 2012/2013 DJing in Barnsley, moving from venue to venue, as venues closed and as venue management took other genres or themed nights as a priority. Unlike indie, it’s been hard for metal to find a town centre venue recently. The Polish Club is the nearest thing there is but it is generally known as a live music venue rather than a club. Do you think there is still enough of an audience there for a metal club to be successful in Barnsley?
I have found over the years that people in the metal scene are the most passionate people about their music bar none. However, what venues and management have to realise, especially in Barnsley, is we are not a city! We may be the most passionate people about music but there isn’t many of us compared to straight up dance/indie fans in the town.
What do you think is holding the scene back?
The places I have played expect the night to produce as much money as a typical dance night, week in week out. The numbers will not add up the way they want, but it does provide a consistent cash flow, as we all know rockers can drink! It’s frustrating but I do understand when venues and management try something different and replace a rock/metal night thinking they can attract more customers. However, when you start playing the same music which every other pub/club in town is doing, you have to do something different to get that customer base back.
I think the future will be fortnightly or even monthly nights as you can near enough guarantee everyone will turn out and have an amazing time. Most people I speak to also seem to think this is the way forward.
You hear a lot of the same tracks played week in and week out played out in both rock and indie clubs. What three tracks can you never get bored of and will always work on the dancefloor?
I think most tracks can work on the dancefloor as long as they are not overplayed. People will never get bored of any song, unless like you mention, they hear them week in week out. Pantera is one of the bands that which ever song you play, the club will love it. I do try and pick the less commercial songs for some variety which the customers haven’t heard for a while. Anything by Fear Factory, Machine Head and Korn always seem to go down well by most people. However, when I play a venue, I usually play what the crowd is into at the time. You can tell from a crowd that if you were to put a certain style of song on you will get lynched! Like most things, when you are there to entertain a bunch of people you have to be able to mix up your set and deal with any genre which will go down well at that time.
What is a great unexpected track in a metal club?
Pendulum, The Prodigy and anything Dubstep!! The cross over in the genres is getting smaller and smaller thanks to artists like Skrillex and Korn collaborating. Modestep and Hadouken blurring the lines of the genres more and more. Hands down, when the drinks are flowing, I’ve seen even the hardened metal fan dancing around to Slam, Firestarter and of course… Smack my Bitch Up!
Is there any specific bands you would love to play out but wouldn’t work?
I love listening to Joy Division, Tears for Fears and INXS. There is always a time and place when you think ‘is this the time when I can could slip something different into a set?’ I even got a James Arthur song in at one of my last gigs, there was only the one girl dancing but hey, when I play i try and cater for all tastes and styles.
What’s your favourite Sunday morning music, what do you relax to?
The only time I get to relax really is in the bath and its still heavy music which I choose to listen to. I am currently listening to Heart of a Coward, Catalepsy and Despised Icon at the moment. I also try and listen to new and local bands as much as possible.Yoou always need new stuff in your set.
Are you looking forward to the 26th April, do you follow any of the bands?
I have recently taken some time out from DJing but I cannot wait to get back on it! I always try to listen to bands which will be at the same gig as me. Carvorts I have followed for a while and I have recently listened to Shermer and This State of Ours too. Needless to say, it will be a really good gig. The 26th April is definitely one for the diaries.
You can follow Mistress Darkside on twitter @Metal_Chick1983
Photos courtesy of Green Chicken.
Mistress Darkside will DJ at The Polish Club on Saturday 26th April, in support of Cavorts, alongside Shermer and This State of Ours.