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Soundtrack by Satan 

Shedding light on British DJ's dark side

How does a nice young woman from a small rural town in England get to be DJ Satan? Practice. "I was big into music from an early age," says Andrea Parker, whose dark electronica records have earned her the satanic moniker. Parker started her career collecting old BBC sound effects records and combining them with what she calls "masses of sounds." "I used to have like three turntables and play an old Moog record on one turntable and some strings on another and some percussion on another, making one track from three turntables." Her music may be dark, but Parker is an affable soul who likes to laugh. She cackles heartily when asked what she had done with sounds to make people believe that Satan had gotten into her soul. "I've always collected dark music rather than techno, hip-hop — electro. It's just that I'm a real sound person, and I love analog synths with that kind of menacing, weird kind of sounds and cinematic sound, and horror film sounds, but that's kind of the opposite from what my personality's like."

Parker's personality comes through in her lyrics. "Return of The Rocking Chair," from 1999's Kiss My Arp, is a reprise of a tune she first released in the mid '90s, and is far from satanic. "The memories still stay/I captured from the stars/So far in the distance/Yet so near to my heart."

The original "Rocking Chair" was a genre-busting ballad laden with strings, courtesy of Will Malone, who has strung up Massive Attack's "Unfinished Symphony" as well as various horror movie soundtracks. Parker's performance was such that nobody who heard it would associate her with the techno biz.

It's highly unusual to find a DJ that sings, and even rarer to find one that writes lyrics of this caliber. Yet Parker doesn't think much of her skill at either. She laughs when told of a website displaying her lyrics. "I had no idea that they could make out my lyrics. I went to Mexico, climbed a few pyramids and wrote some on top of pyramids."

A singing career is not on her to-do list either. Even though she's gotten favorable reviews for her vocals, with critics calling her voice "Siren-like" and "silky," she says she hates the sound of her own voice. There's one other problem as well. "I actually hate standing up and singing on stage in front of loads of people. It's something I just could never do. I really don't think I've got a very good voice. It was just used as another instrument on my album."

Though she might not be pleased with everything that comes out of her mouth, she makes use of some emanations most people would discard. "The Sneeze" is just that: a four-bar loop of Parker sneezing.

"I actually had the mike on when I sneezed by accident, so I just happened to record my sneeze. But my sneeze is very, very odd," she laughs. "It's very high and rhythmic, so I just thought, yeah!"

Parker says that she likes anything that makes a sound, and often leaves her DAT recorder on all day, especially when traveling by car. "All of the stuff in the album, like the cat's eyes under the cars or anything rhythmical, the windscreen wipers, I put it in a track." perhaps there is something to this satanic DJ business after all. What kind of person would run over cats just to record the sound they make? That gets a big laugh from Parker when she's told that what she was describing, the warning lights at the road's edge, was being taken literally. "I hate cats," she says, "I really can't stand 'em, but I wouldn't run 'em over."

So with the satanism tag debunked, Parker says what's she's up to is a mix of old and new. "I'm really into old school electro, and all the old breaking stuff, and graffiti, and fat laces, and all the early hip-hop and electro has been a big influence to me. And what I wanted to do was mix that music with really weird sorts of obscure electronic sounds." She also professes a love for classical and folk music, and wants to fuse them all together.

Although she's re-creating the genre, she has no name for her efforts. "I just play really dark electro sets. Other times it's experimental hip-hop, just depends on what sort of mood I'm in. I have no idea what I'm doing," she laughs.

Andrea Parker appears at Charlotte's Menage Friday with Jeff Nagle.

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