Meet Rasela Torise

Talofa, I’m Rasela/Chopsuey. I’ve been DJing for almost 20 years. It’s hard to say when it all began but music’s guided me through life for as long as I can remember.

Music took me to London from little ol’ NZ in 1989 at the age of 19 and I was first exposed to DJ’s throughout the early 90’s as the rave and underground house music scene emerged. The DJ’s were our friends and the ones who enabled us to carry on partying in an array of houses and make shift venues long after the clubs, pubs and bars had closed or kicked us out. I had a powerful epiphany moment around that time that I didn’t recognize until years later. It was during one of these after party’s. A spare pair of turntables had been set up in a bedroom downstairs and a few friends were having a go at putting records on. When they turned to me an invited me to ‘have a go’ I stood in front of them and distinctly heard the words “if I touch the turntables they’ll take over my life”. l walked back to the dancefloor where I thought I felt my happiest, little did I know what happiness was to come exactly 10 years later on the other side of the world. I would have been about 23 at the time and happy just to dance as long as someone kept playing the music, so I forgot about it.

Another moment of realisation was at the Ministry of Sound in the middle of a heaving dancefloor with smiles all round and tunes pumping out. I had the feeling of being completely connected to the music, understanding it’s intricacies and flow, knowing exactly when the breaks came and my body stopping at exactly the right time. I had a deep unspoken connection to the music as if it were a part of me and at that time in my life I was I suppose in search of connection. Of the 10 years I spent in London I never once in all that time touched the turntables or ever considered becoming a DJ.

Fast forward to my arrival in Sydney in 2000, My first job was at Hugo’s Bondi compiling the mailing list for a new place they were opening in Kings X called Hugo’s Lounge. When the Lounge opened during the 2000 Olympics I moved into the role of reception manager and naturally took charge of the music and the vibe as the venue morphed seamlessly from a restaurant, to a bar and into a cranking nightclub.

Pretty early on we hired DJ’s with Sneaky Sound System being our first Friday residents. We also hired two female DJ’s Jackie Shan on Saturday nights and Lady Tre on Thursdays both bringing an element of sophistication and feeling to the party that I had never felt before. We quickly became best of friends.

In 2003 Jackie Shan started the first Sista event, showcasing upcoming female DJs in Sydney at the time and bringing them together to create a night dedicated to women behind the decks. She chose Hugo’s Lounge to launch it. When the first DJ played the warmup set on that first night, I had to go over and let her know the music wasn’t appropriate for that time and needed to be a bit more chilled. Her response to that was “Do you want to come and play the warmup set next week?”

The rest as they say is history.

Residencies: Hugos Lounge 6 years 2003-2009, Establishment 3 years, Rambutan 1 year.

Events: Louis Vuitton Bare Foot and Black-Tie Ball and Elle McPhersons Boxing Day party, Melbourne Cup Weekends in the Birdcage for Motorolla, David Jones’ Sydney Fashion floor launch, innumerable shindigs and parties in exotic, erotic chaotic locations, There were opening and closing parties, untold private events and celebrations including New Years extravaganzas at Hugos Lounge and Hugos Manly as well as warm up sets for Sneaky Sundays back in the day.

Festivals: Island Vibe 7 years, Earth Freq 4 years, Burning Seed 2 years with the Froot Society, Splendour in the Grass and many magnificent gatherings in the hills of the Shire that resemble festivals.

Radio – Weekly Sista show on Bondi FM for 6 years 2003-2009. Currently BayFM in Byron Bay for the past 12 years with two shows Chopsuey (music) from 2009-2019 and a long running food/wellbeing show Belly 2009-present. I also work on many grant funded projects bringing the voices of the under-represented minorities to the airwaves as well as teaching youth how to make radio and podcasts.

So now, instead of taking a break I’ve decided it’s time to pass on what I know in the world of mixing and playing Vinyl. This course is the perfect combination of creativity and discipline both of which you will need if you want to learn to DJ. If you are more one than the other, that’s OK you’re in the right place. The intention behind creating a female DJ community is to support one another as we embark on this journey together.

My set up is two Technics 1200’s and a Pioneer DJM400 for home. At gigs I love to mix on a Pioneer RX2 which adds a digital USB component as well as a phono input for turntables. The quality of sound that comes out of the RX2 is incredible, even with older records.

Here’s a link to my Soundcloud page full of DJ mixes, radio shows, interviews and more!

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