Social distancing getting you down? Feel like you’re beginning to fray at the edges? ‘Locked In (Isolutions)’ is a week of iso-themed content, geared towards making yet another 7 days of stay-at-home mundanity that bit more bearable…

Ambient Babestation Meltdown is the provocative, tongue-in-cheek brainchild of a London mainstay. What started as an in-joke between friends quickly spiralled out of control, and the resulting project is truly inspired. Interspersing drone, ambient and other esoterica with live vocals influenced by her time working for an adult entertainment channel, Rachael, who’s often found playing Italo and electroclash in venerated basements like Rye Wax and Dalston Superstore, might have found her niche.

Serving up a mix tailor-made for lonely souls in lockdown, Day 5 of Locked In (Isolutions) brings the meltdown to If-Only, complete with some iso-themed questions for an industry insider.

Hi Rachael, can you tell the people a bit about Ambient Babestation Meltdown and its origins?

So about a decade ago, I worked in the office of a British adult entertainment channel doing their marketing. It was about as bonkers as you’d imagine only more so. I’d watch amateur granny content in the morning with my latte, interview the ahem more polished stars in the afternoon whilst they were doing their make-up, and go to some weird parties in the evening. A lot of my stories from that time are basically unpublishable. 

Very occasionally they’d get me to do the voice-overs for the previews on Sky as I was free talent and had the voice for it. Cut to: years later and me joking to Sam from X-Kalay that I’d do an ambient set at Rye Wax and do my sexy vocals over the top. Despite it being a joke I somehow ended up the poster and thought fuck it I’ll do it.

It continues to spiral out of control and is now somewhere between performance art, soundscape, comedy skit and DJ set.

How would you recommend listening to the mix?

Not with your parents.

Maybe on headphones? Or with people who aren’t gonna talk over it.

It sounds like quite an endeavour recording these. How have the limitations of lockdown impacted your ability to do so, and how do you think the current circumstances are affecting artists as far as access to necessary equipment and facilities?

I used to record the mixes live at Rye Wax as evening performances. Now I don’t have a crowd to bounce my jokes off, just a highly unimpressed, judgey-looking cat. So it was a lot harder to do the vocals and make the jokes land. I also had to borrow an XDJ from a local pal as it was FUCKING IMPOSSIBLE to do it on just 3 decks. I mean christ alive it was hectic af doing it on a 2 channel mixer with 4 decks. Ground my teeth more doing it than people did at Bangface this year.

In terms of other artists, I think it’s really important to acknowledge that not everyone is so privileged to continue their DJ career from home right now. Not everyone has the space for setting up decks. Not everyone has savings to suddenly plump for a controller. So it’s going to shift the type of output we see and who we see it from. 

We know that you’ve been exploring new means of connecting to audiences digitally. Can you tell us a bit more?

Hahaha well I did set up an Only Fans. Originally my idea was to film mixes I record on a little GoPro, but it is very stressful recording them with my mixer so I think I’m going to have to either do like a Guetta-style pre-record haha, or just do ASMR.

I know everyone’s been joking about DJs on Only Fans, but I do think this is kind of a natural progression for the project? It’s primarily cam girls on the platform right? So it’s a world the project is already firmly rooted in.

How have you been finding lockdown to date?

Not gonna lie, but really tough. I live alone and I haven’t touched another human being in over a month. I miss my family a lot. I was due to visit my mum at the start of April and then pop to Bristol to see pals and obviously cancelled that. My dad, step mum and little brother live just north of London and I can’t see them either. 

I think as well, that people are becoming naturally introverted as a result of our current circumstances and I feel like as someone who lives alone I’m just getting lost in the shuffle. Lots of folk who are now struggling more with their own mental health.

And it’s hard to reach out because I know that people are struggling and I just feel like I’m bothering them, so I inadvertently end up isolating myself further.

Any go-to coping mechanisms?

I bought a disco ball sippy cup to make day-drinking that little bit more opulent.

Also playing Ticket To Ride online with mates and shouting drunken abuse over House Party.

Sunbathing and reading comic books.

And oh god, I started doing pilates which was definitely invented by someone who hates people. I was hoping that would tire me out and I’d start sleeping better. Unfortunately my neighbours discovered biphasic sleeping… and haven’t discovered WD40 or ball gags.

How has the pandemic affected your professional life?

My professional life consisted of booking DJs and DJing… so I currently don’t have a professional life? It sucks. And it’s stressful. And draining on my mental health. I’ve started muting people on Facebook that are doing wild speculating. So now my Facebook is primarily cats, weird food, and snakes with hats.

With expectations that it will have far-reaching implications, how do you think the underground music ‘scene’ will recover?

Obviously I’m really against speculating right now. It’s too panic inducing I think? I don’t know what’s going to happen, both with the public’s health and how the government are responding to it. It feels really silly to start discussing timelines. 

I do think that restrictions are likely to be slowly removed and nightlife will be both last and incremental. It will take a long time to recover for sure and I do think touring DJs, big clubs and festivals will be the very last to resume their business.

Any finally, is there anything on the horizon that youd like to share?

Time has no meaning, so really, what is the horizon?

Probably I’ll get bored and start doing terrifying Ambient Babestation productions soon enough, so hmu for collabs.

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