Hey, DJ: Rachel Torro

Want to know this DJ's secret to battling nerves? Power posing!

When it comes to preparing to open for artists like Bonobo and Pete Tong, DJ Rachel Torro’s pre-show ritual focuses on one thing: power posing. “It’s all about having confident body language to increase your serotonin and decrease your cortisol,” she says.

Starting her musical career just five years ago, Torro’s ability to relate to and read crowds with a self-described “living room DJ” -style landed her as one of the first resident DJs of local venue Public Works.

We got a chance to talk to Torro about her first gig, “power posing,” and what’s in store for her summer.

She opens for Claptone with an extended set this Friday [June 16] at Public Works.

SF Weekly: How long have you been DJing and how would you describe the style of music you play?
Rachel Torro: I’ve been playing for about five years. I don’t like to keep it to any one sub-genre, but house music is my jam. It’s gotten me through a lot over the years and has allowed me to express a lot through my musical identity. I can be a real “living room DJ” sometimes, playing the melodic stuff you wouldn’t want to necessarily hear at the club, but I also love to dance. Making other people move and let go is another side to it I’ve grown to really appreciate.

SFW: What was your first gig and how did it go?
RT: My first paid gig was at 111 Minna for a Qoöl party. I was so nervous. My friends came to support and danced front row and yelled the whole time. They were trying to help but it made me turn beet red instead. I was just honored to play at a venue and party that had so much history in the S.F. music scene.

SFW: We heard you like to dig and collect records. What’s your most prized possession?
RT: Honestly, my Radiohead records. I don’t have a lot of records compared to many other DJs I know, but Radiohead has been my favorite band since I was 13, and they are showing no signs of stopping. 

SFW: How did you end up a resident at Public Works?
RT: Atish booked me for a loft takeover during Hot Since 82 a few years ago. I met Peter Blick (Public Work’s talent buyer) that night after my set and he got me on a couple of epic lineups throughout the next few months. He eventually told me he had a lot of faith in my taste and I could be Public Work’s first resident (besides him, of course). We’ve been great friends ever since.

SFW: What do you like most about working at the venue?
RT: Perma-guestlist! No, but really, we’re a very small team, so it’s super family vibes. They kind of took me in when I was just a young buck and showed me the ropes. I’m excited to see what our future has in store for us.

SFW: How do you usually prepare for a show? Any pre-show rituals?
RT: I tell everyone about this TED Talk I saw once about this thing called power posing. It’s all about having confident body language to increase your serotonin and decrease your cortisol. It’s saved me many times, like that one time I almost fainted when I had to follow Bonobo at Decibel Festival. You can catch me in a bathroom stall at the club doing “The Superman” before most sets. Science!

SFW: What are you looking forward to when you open for Claptone this Friday?
RT: A nice, long three-hour set. Just me and him all night!

SFW: Which artists are currently rotating on your current playlist?
RT: Mihai Popoviciu, Paul Woolford, and Anja Schneider!

SFW: What’s something about Bay Area nightlife you often ask yourself that we didn’t ask you?
RT: Could it get any better? Will it ever give me a break?

SFW: Where can we catch you hanging out this summer?
RT: Post Claptone, I’m doing the All Day I Dream afterparty at Audio with a bunch of other locals and surprise guests on June 25. After that I’m off to Europe for a few weeks to play and travel. But mainly you can catch me on The Midway patio most Sundays at Permission to Land. Look forward to seeing you!

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