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Andrea Parker

"YES, GO ON, ask me question!" Andrea Parker is on the phone from Bavaria where she is recording tracks for her debut album with the assistance of long time collaborato David Morely. She has interupted he recording session to do this interview and is in no mood for messing around.
HER VOICE is husky from laying down vocal tracks and her mind is clearely back in the studio where she obviously feels at her happiest, lost amid banks of analogue synths.
Using dark string and disparate 'found' sounds from sampling everyday objects, Andrea Parker creates rich-yet-brittle techno-noir. Out of sync with the dancefloor activities of the techno frontline, her approach is to push ideas to their most warped extreme. No wonder then that last year's solo singles for Mo'Wax, 'Rocking Chair' and Melodius Thunk', sound so magnificently haunting. A downtempo stroll through tortured memories, "Rocking Chair' featured Andrea's vocal talents, which echo the etherial tenderness of both Sylvian and the Cowboy Junkies.
"I've always been into stuff like This Mrtal Coil, Ryuichi Sakamoto and David Sylvian, that darker or deeper side of things. That's why I've got John Fryer who produced This Mortal Coil producing some of my album." she explains. "I've always been like this. I even prefer the darker Detroit stuff, but at the end of the day I'm a sucker for strings.
Indeed, Andrea's forthcoming album will be divided equally between her techno-based output her love for makin melodic string-laden tunes - with many of the arrangements including Andrea herself on cello. It's unusal for an artist who has become associated with the techno scene. But then Andrea is no ordinary techno artist: she has a vision that emcompasses the organic sounds of everyday life as much as the latest developments in technology.
"I like to sample real noises. " she explains. "I just go out with my DAT player and record things like car washes. On one track I've got the sound of tyres going over cat's eyes, while opening and shutting the sunroff to make the sound flange.
'Rocking Chair' has a hi-hat pattern that is made by knifes being sharpened and another one of my tracks even has the sound of me crunching on Monster Munch...
"The album's going to be full f these kinds of things because I'm really into the sound that everyday objects makes - like food blenders and door hinges. Anything that makes an interesting sound gets used in my music."
PERHAPS UNSURPRISINGLY, Andrea has made tentative forays into the world of film soundtrack. Not with the unusual score for a mate's Super 8 art flick, but for a name far more associated with Hollywood.
"Arthur C. Calrke sent me the script to do a soundtrack for. I had to do this thing live, sound effects and evertything. So I was sitting there with my BBC sound effects albums, four decks, DAT player, CD and whatever else and maniacally doing the sounds for this eight-hour script." she enthuses, hardly stopping for breath.
"I actually collect those BBC sound effects records, I've got about 3,000 at he moment. They are a really good source for unusual sounds."
Although her show reel was ultimately unsuccessful, her music has been used ion the small screen a few times. For instance Richard abd Judy used one of her David Morely co-compositions for a piece they were doing about street crime.
"It was a real shock," she says "I hadn't envisoned this piece as being used in any way scary, but as soon as I saw it with this mugging scene I suddenly realised just how sinister it really was."
From Arther C. Clark to Richard and Judy - this must have given Andrea a teaste for some real screen action? "Well, I would reallly like to do aJames Bond theme. I actually explained that to this Scottish journalist who then went and wrote that was my ambition to be a Bond girl! I just thought, What a Tosser. I've never wanted to do that at all.
It's an experience that has made Andrea very wary of the press and, more importantly, the power of the misquote. As a result, interviews appear to been placed at the very lowest point in her list of priorities - somewhere below putting the rubbish out.
"I just think it's symptomatic of the whole scene really - very shallow. You get people bigging each other up because they are mates or because they're on some form of drug and everything gets out of perspective. Then this warped images gets reported. We're real people at the end of the day so the issue is music not our personalities. At the end of the day, music is the only thing that connects people on a worldwide basis."
"It gets me when people act like they own the music. Like musicians or DJs and journalists when they get this precious thing about a scene. I've always wanted to do an experiment at Fat Cat and have a whole rack of blank labels, no info at all and see what half of these people end up buying. Then you tell them what it is just to see embarrassment."
TO THE casual observer, it seems like Andrea PArker's album has been in production for eons now - it should be rleased by Mo'Wax sometime in '97. Furthermore. 'Rocking Chari' was scheduled for release for almost a year before it came out. Perhaps Andrea PArker lives on a different time scale to the rest of us.
"I'm very thorough," she says, "I don't want anything to come out that' I'm not happy with. 'Rocking Chair' was delayed because we had to cut it nine times. There are too mnay words with the letter 's' in - which cause a lot of problems of resonance apparently."
Having such a leticulous approach to her music, it is hardly surprising that she wasn't over-joyed with the fact that 'Melodious Thunk' was adopted by jungle DJs like Newcastle's Elementz of Noise posse and played at plus eight.
"I suppose the record is in the public domain, so I can't complain about how it's used. It's apiece of music that never was meant to be played at that speed, so in a sense, it's no longer a part of my musical vision, but the DJ's instead. Actually, another track I did with David Morely was used in the same way by junglists, so there must be something about my stuff that appeals to them. Maybe's it's the darkness? I don't know."
WHAT MAKE'S Andrea's music stand out if her acute awareness of ordinary, everytday things, the noises they make and how they might subsequently translate into her music.. All of which adds an ironic, humorous twist to her songs. It there's an art into making eating monster mUnch sound melancholic, then Andrea must surely have a master's degree in it.
"My boyfriends did say to me that if i stopped drinking gin and tonic and started drinking vodka and lemonade, I might produce a happy Top 40 hit, but I don't think so. Sad-sounding strings are my favorite things. I could sit and listen to them all day. People think I must be a depressing person but I'm not honest!" And so back to the recording session somewhere in Bavaria, where Andrea Parker is no doubt basking in the shadows of gloomy string arrangements, sombre melodies and the haunting sound of a Monster Munch going 'crunch' in the night...

By Martin James

Originally Appeared in Volume's Trans Eupore Express 5, 1997.
Copyright © Volume.