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Andrea Parker-First femme of dark electronica

I JUST can't stand happy music," says DJ/producer Andrea Parker. "That trance stuff with all those cheesy 3O3s and all those people clapping their hands just makes me want to vomit." Its an admission which probably won't surprise anyone who has heard her brand of dark, dubby trip hop or one of her brooding DJ sets.
But it's difficult to square the music with this chirpy, elfin babe who punctuates her manifold rapid fire opinions with an infectious throaty giggle "When I'm out DJing, I think it does shock people to see me playing such dark music-particularly if it sone of my own tracks," she says But I m not a depressing person. I live on my own and I do analyse things quite a lot, but generally in a very positive way."
After a quiet spell, Andrea is back with a bag full of new releases. First off the blocks is a mix for K7's excellent DJ Kicks series, taking in Depeche Mode, the heart-tugging synths of Carl Craig's "Desire", vintage electro from Man Parrish and Model 500, and its updated equivalent from shadowy Detroit amphibians Drexciya. In keeping with the overall quality of the series, it's a little different to your average mix CD-an intriguing moodyjourney, more suited to an armchair than an aerobics class.
"It's strange, but I'm probably far better known in Germany and Switzerland, because I DJ far more there than in London," she says. "They don't mind dirty distorted electro sounds in Germany. Over here, I seem to DJ in side rooms and chillout rooms, whereasover in Europe, I'll play in main rooms. I've never minded playing in side rooms, you do have a lot more freedom. I know that it sounds selfish, but as a DJ I'd rather educate a crowd. Ninety per cent of DJs know what they have to play to fill a main room, but I don't want to be one of those DJs who're left with 6,000 records they don't like when they're 40."
Andrea particularly values her collection of sound effect records. "That's how l started DJing. Because I didn't have a studio, I used to borrow three decks and just layer the sound effect records."

HER interest in pure sound dates back to her childhood Kent. "We used to live out in the middle of nowhere. When my parents used to go out, me and my sister wouId sit there in the same room getting frightened by radiator noises. It was a very scary environment, although when I moved to London I probably found it scarier, with the number of people and the amount of noise."
A recent DJ gig saw her packing up her trusty sound effects and flying to New York at a day's notice to DJ along with an orchestra playing music by one of her heroes, the minimalist classical composer Philip Glass. " It was the maddest DJ gig I've ever done, " laughs Andrea. "It's not often that you go and bow to an audience at the end of a set."
Mining her own avant-garde variety of beakbeat dance means that Andrea has been able to avoid being pigeon-holed in any of the patronising press given to female DJs. Witness the recent features on DJ Rap which often devoted more time to her brief stint as a topless model than her years of paying her dues on the tough drum'n'bass circuit.
But any raising of her profile will not prompt her to try to glam her image up. "The last thing I'd do is to turn up to a gig in high heels, I wouldn't be able to get through the crowd with my record box," she laughs. "But a lot of women within the scene will use their femininity to help them get on, so I don't think they should moan about how men treat them. In life, I think you get treated how you let people treat you.
"I'm a huge fan of women in music like Laurie Anderson and Anne Dudley from the Art of Noise. They combined technical brilliance and immense talent. Liz Fraser [of The Cocteau Twins] didn't need to get her tits out or anything to prove herself."

DESPITE Andrea's professed preference to be seen as a relatively anonymous knob twiddler, she has stepped out from behind her equipment tosingon her new material. Almost every track on the forthcoming LP "Kiss My Arp" features her high breathy vocals.
"My actual lyrics can be taken in all sorts of ways. You can have lyrics which could be light and fluffy, but if you have dark music underneath them, they sound quite scary."
For the future, Andrea has ambitions outside of the restrictions of dance music, and fancies a move into film soundtracks. "I'd really like to do a horror film score, I find the idea of scaring people with sound really funny," she laughs. "Or perhaps a James Bond...anything except a cheesy American thing."
And in the short term? Well there's a list of collaborations to be completed. "I've worked with Philip Glass and remixed Ryuchi Sakomoto and Steve Reich. I've only got Laurie Anderson to go now." Keep your (avant) garde up.

SAMPLEDELICA- Andrea's Top Mad Samples

"There was some phenomenal bass on it. When I got that up in the studio, the speakers were really flapping."
"They're great on a kitchen floor. You get some really nice squeaky noises from them.''
"There's a track on the new LP called 'Sneeze', it's just me sneezing chopped up into a four-bar loop. There's no keyboards on it-''
"Car tyres going over them makes a really nice 4/4 pattern. l got it by strapping a microphone to the bottom of my car and driving down the motorway.''
"On 'A Rockingchair', I have a hi-hat pattern made out of knives and forks clashing together. When it was Single of the Week in The Guardian, they said the title was a reference to Norman Bates' mother in 'Psycho', but it's actually because the track is in 3/4 time just like a rocking chair?'

Originally Appeared in from Melody Maker October 3,1998
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