Strawberry blonde bangs swing to reveal
crystal blue eyes above a sweet smile
that warms you up like the "Electro-italodisco-robotic-80's-roller-rink-tech-house"
music she's pouring off the decks into
the dance floor. Meet DJ Lady Lyric, born
Terryn Jennings Westbrook somewhere in
Kansas about twenty-eight years ago and
heating up underground club nights and
speakers worldwide. Now living in the
arty up-and-coming Echo Park district
of Los Angeles, Lady Lyric stopped her
wheels for more than just a few questions
so that we could find out a little bit
more about what makes her spin both inside
Jennifer: How many years have
you been DJing and making music?
Lady Lyric: Hmmm. Well I started
studying electronic music at the University
of South Florida in Tampa in in '94 so
almost 10 years, then I only really started
spinning records when I moved to L.A.
five years ago.
Did you have any classic music training?
I played the trumpet when I was in like
6th or 7th grade, then started
singing in chorus in junior high but didn't
really have a very strong voice. I was
never the soloist or anything! Both experiences
taught me how to read music and to establish
some sort of musical discipline. I also
took guitar lessons when I was 15, but
I didn't stick with it for too long. Then
in college (in addition to studying electronic
music, theater, and dance) I studied piano,
or "keyboard" as they called
it because you learned and played on synthesizers,
then a few years ago I started taking
guitar lessons. I just started taking
piano again recently. I am not a master
at guitar or piano but I play enough of
each to use them as basic songwriting
tools. I started taking private voice
lessons about 4 years ago because I was
singing in a band and I was so nervous
that I would suck, you know that I wouldn't
know how to use my "instrument".
I was afraid that voice lessons would
change my style, that my uniqueness would
be threatened or something, but it actually
just accentuated and strengthened my singing
because I learned more about the mechanics
of the voice, how to breathe, warm up,
that kind of thing.
What was the first song you ever learned
I distinctly remember singing "Brass
in Pocket" by the Pretenders and
"Betty Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes
at a very early age, running around the
house belting out "Gonna make you,
make you, make you notice... gonna use
my arms, gonna use my legs, gonna use
my style... gonna use my sidestep..."
What is your earliest childhood memory
My dad and mom used to play Bob Dylan
and Beatles songs on the guitar. As a
matter of fact, my father wooed my mom
by singing "the girl from north country"
to my her on one of their first dates.
My dad was always really into music and
technology. Still is, as a matter of fact
he just recently asked me if I'd ever
heard of a band called Radiohead and proceeded
to tell me how he's been listening to
"Pablo Honey" a lot lately.
He cracks me up, he's in his late 50's
and he's so cool and fortunately for me,
he's a bit of a packrat. In addition to
collecting cars and guitars, he started
collecting synthesizers and drum machines
while we were living in Japan in the 80's
now I own what's left of it. Most got
sold or traded but I still have a
sweet Roland Jx-3p synth and an 808 that
are both in beautiful condition. I still
kick myself for letting my dad sell his
303 to Dave Christophere (Rabbit in the
Moon) when I was in high school. Now Dave's
got like 3 of them!!
I also remember my dad having a Mac classic,
you know the one with the little slit
for a floppy disk on the monitor? He bought
a music program called "Studio Session"
and I used to play with it and make little
songs on it when I was 10 or 11. It was
funny, an early midi program, the preset
sounds were reminiscent of Gumby and Pokey
music! I would always bug my dad to let
me play with the 808, but it was kind
of off limits most of the time, you know,
his little treasure. In college when I
stared making analog music, he let me
"borrow" it. It was a really
special moment when I moved to L.A. and
he gave the gear to me. I think he finally
understood that I really intended to do
something with it. And since, he's been
my biggest fan, always asking me when
I'm going to send him some new music.
He is so supportive. So is my mom. She
has no idea what we are talking about
when we "talk tech" but she
really likes the music I do.
Was it all that made you want to be
professional involved with music?
It just happened, I guess. When I was
a teenager, I was listening to stuff like
Depeche Mode, New Order, the Sugar Cubes,
the Cure, Meat Beat Manifesto and a lot
of industrial music like Nitzer Ebb, Ministry,
Front 242. It was primarily electronic
music that I was into, so naturally when
the rave scene started surfacing in central
Florida, my ears were intrigued. My high
school boyfriend and I used to go to raves
in Orlando and Gainesville and it just
became our lifestyle. That's when I met
the whole Hallucination posse and would
go to a lot of their events around Florida.
I knew I liked the music and the scene,
but at that time I hadn't figured out
that I wanted to be a part of it as an
artist rather than a patron.
When was the first time you heard
I suppose it was probably the Beatles,
because my dad used to play the White
Album and Revolver, which incorporated
a lot early electronic experimentation,
and he was also listening to Vangelis
and Jean Michael Jarre when I was a tot.
I do have a very fond memory of listening
to Yaz's "Upstairs at Eric's"
album when I was in Japan. I must've been
7 or 8 years old. My dad had bought several
copies of the album on tape, because they
were really cheap, he thought he'd use
them to tape over, and I listened to it
all the time. I remember listening to
it on my walkman while I roller skated
in the parking lot in front of our apartment
in Yokota Air Force Base. "Can't
stop now, don't you know, I'm never gonna
let you go, DON'T GO" and that amazing
synth line would come in!! I loved that
album, still do. It
is hugely inspirational for me. It's in
my regular DJ rotation for sure. I
think I'll give Yaz and my dad all the
credit for getting me hooked on
What was the first rave or club that
you went to and what was it like?
When I was a sophomore in high school
my friends and I used to go to this underage,
no alcohol nightclub called Off Limits.
It's so funny to think about, because
our mom's would drop us off and pick us
up!! They played all this gothic industrial
dance music!! Stuff like K.L.F. and early
Moby. We would smoke cloves and do the
gothic "pick up the penny" dance.
If you've ever seen it, you know what
I mean. I remember when the song "Dominator"
was the big hit. One of the first rave
type events was this "Mute over America"
tour in Tampa in like '92 and it was Renegade
Soundwave performing live and Derrick
May DJing. It was the first time I'd ever
watched/heard a DJ in that kind of setting,
you know DJ= rockstar. It was Derrick
May on stage tweaking the e.q.s and blending
all these bleepity bleep sounds together.
He had us by the balls. We were so enthralled,
witnessing this "new" medium.
Of course it had been going on for years
but this was the first time I had truly
experienced it. I also recall going to
my first proper rave in Orlando called
InfoNet or something like that and I believe
it was Kimball Collins, John Digweed,
and DJ Three. That was my first time "feelin'
the love", if you know what I mean...
What made you decide to become a DJ?
Well for me it went from producing to
DJing and now it's back to producing again.
When I was younger, I was content to just
be a listener, a participant, someone
who went to events and danced. Then, as
I started to discover that I had something
to say as a poet, then as a singer, I
felt the need to find a musical outlet,
a platform to express these words that
I wanted to say. So I started taking electronic
music classes @ U.S.F. Of course I was
the only woman in a class of 20 boys but
rather that let that intimidate me, I
let it fuel me to do better work. I often
spent extra time in the studio at the
university, not only using it to finish
the various assignments we were given,
but to finish pieces of music for a one-woman-show
I was writing and developing. In school
we were required to learn certain things
with reel-to-reel tape like reversal,
cutting and splicing, creating tapeloops
holding the tape up with a pencil, real
primitive analog experiments. We had to
patch the modular synths to create specific
sounds then we would record all of our
assignments and be tested and expected
to draw out the different patches we would
use to create different sounds. I would
bring my dad's 808 into the studio and
use it along with the other gear they
supplied, to do weird analog experiments,
using the Emu Modular synth to trigger
it. So I would take the outcome of the
assignments/experiments and then do various
mixes, then record spoken word over that.
It was at that time that I began recording
myself singing, quietly at first, putting
lots of effects on my voice to cover all
What was the hardest part for you
about becoming an artist?
Even though being an artist is the most
noble profession one can have, pronouncing
that you're going to become an artist
is a bit like coming out of the closet.
Especially because when I was getting
into the music scene, it was a boy's club.
I was already acting and writing a little
so I had a sense of my artist spirit,
but DJing and producing music was and
still is dominated bymen. Not to say it's
an easy career to jump into for either
gender but being a girl, and having boyfriends
who made music or DJed, it made it hard
to speak out that I wanted to learn. So
it was intimidating on a lot of levels.
Sometimes it still is.
Gradually I was able to admit to some
friends who were producers that I wanted
to have them engineer and produce songs
I was writing. Omar Torres was the first.
I drove down to Atlanta one weekend to
work with him. I said, Hey I have this
song I've been working on in the studio
at school and I want to make it sound
really good, I want you to help me. He's
gone on to do some amazing stuff for Hallucination
as well as Joe Clausel's label Natural
Resource. We are still in touch, I just
worked with him again last year on some
How did you learn to DJ?
Just from watching other people and getting
tips along the way. In Tampa I was dating
and living with a DJ so he showed me a
couple of things to get me started. Then,
years later, when I moved here to L.A.,
I was roommates for 3 years with Sean
Patrick (Magu the Subtle Navigator) and
he let me use his tables. He gave me some
valuable pointers but he basically stayed
out of my hair. Sean recognized that I
preferred (and still do) to learn stuff
on my own. He is in mad support of me
now too. He gives me just enough encouragement
to let me know he likes what I'm doing
but never lets me rest
on my laurels. Friends like that are what
artists need!! Also making mix cds, hearing
my mistakes, and learning from them. Wait!
Do you have any of your music that
people can hear online somewhere?
My website, DJladylyric.com.
It's still under construction but you
can hear some Photocall works-in- progress
and songs from the Reverse Commuter 12"
on it. You can check Hallucination.com
to hear the entire 12" and see reviews
on the record.
What prompted you to move from Tampa
to Los Angeles?
I outgrew Tampa. In college I started
taking electronic music classes and dance
classes along with theater (which was
supposed to be my major) and I put together
this one woman show called Cunning Linguist
that incorporated all those elements.
After the show was well received, and
I performed it all around Florida, I decided
that I was going to pursue acting for
real, so I moved to Hollywood with the
hopes of working in the film and television
industry. It's been going great in the
acting world, I've made a lot of money
doing commercials, but I must admit my
focus has been all music lately. I am
being pulled in the direction of singer/songwriter/
DJ. I hope to be able to do it all though!!
Maybe write and star in films while creating
the music for them as well!
Where else have you lived?
Born in Wichita,Kansas then moved to
the Philippines, then to Tampa, Florida,
then to Yokota, Japan, then to Omaha,
Nebraska, then to Ocean Springs, Mississippi,
then back to Tampa for a decade, then
I spent a semester in London, England,
went back to Tampa, then moved here to
What's the best thing about living
in Los Angeles?
It's a renaissance. For me it was about
flying the coop and escaping the comforts
of home. I was much more timid with my
dreams when I was in Tampa. I was not
able to admit fully to myself or anyone
else that I had aspirations of becoming,
not only an actress and performance artist,
but a vocalist, DJ and music producer
as well. I got to L.A. and started buying
records and practicing DJing, taking chances,
mentioning to producers that I was a singer
and recording songs with them. Moving
to L.A. was a rebirth for me. The energy
here is manic and wonderful. Everything
is here if you look
for it. You can go out every night if
you want. There is always so much going
on. Los Angeles is a city where you can
have your dreams realized if you work
What would you be doing right now
if you never got involved with music?
I guess I'd be spending all my time on
my acting career or designing
clothes. Definitely something creative.
What are a few of your current and
all-time favorite artists and records?
Bjork, Portishead, Kraftwerk, The Cure,
Billie Holiday, Radiohead, Joni Mitchell,
Beck, Yaz, Depeche Mode, Dee-lite, Prince,
Meat Beat Manifesto, Olivia Newton-John,
New Order, Zero 7, Goldfrapp, Boards of
Canada, Massive Attack, the Roots, Tribe
called Quest, De La Soul, Pretty Tony,
Cybotron, R.I.T.M., Cerrone, Stereolab,
Aphex Twin, Erlend Oye, The White Stripes,
Fave Records: Yaz- Upstairs at Eric's,
XTC-Skylarking, Bjork- Vespertine, Human
League-Dare , Xanadu soundtrack, Tears
for Fears-The Hurting, Boards of Canada-
Music has the right to children, Metro
To someone who's never been able to
see you DJ, how would you describe it?
What is one of the wildest, craziest
things that's ever happened to you while
you've been DJing?
Well, I don't know if it's wild or crazy,
just kind of funny: One night when I was
spinning at the Plastic Factory, some
guy came up and asked me if I was "doing
all that myself", insinuating that
there was a man behind the curtain or
something. I told him with just enough
sarcasm to be charming yet make a point
that, "No, I have a CD playing and
I've just miming the whole time."
He got the point. Another night I was
DJing some wrap party and a guy asked
me if I " had picked out all of those
records myself?" To which I replied
in a baby voice, "I sure did, and
I dressed myself this morning too!"
C'mon people, wake the fuck up! Women
are workin' it out.
Do you ever get hit on while your
DJing? What do you do when it happens?
Of course. It happens all the time. I
try to be kind and let them know
that I'm kinda busy at the moment. It's
usually by some clueless dork who doesn't
even have the courtesy to wait until I'm
finished mixing to interrupt me. It's
like me going up to drummer in a punk
band while he's in the middle of a gig
and sitting on his lap and trying to ask
him what kind of drum-set he's using and
how long he's been playing. Kind of tough
for him to focus on the matter at hand!
It's flattering but it can be really annoying
if you're in the middle of a mix or something.
I prefer to be hit on after I'm done with
my set!! My favorite thing is when the
line they use is something like, "Wow,
I've never seen a girl playing records
before!" That doesn't impress me.
simply lets me know you've been living
under a rock for the past decade.
So is there a pick up line that might
work on you?
Wait! Isn't this interview about music?
Ok! Ok! Tell us what you're working
on right now.
I have my monthly DJ residency at the
Plastic Factory downtown and a monthly
gig at Vermont called Resolution. Also,
I'll be doing a bi-monthly residency called
"Pockit Rockit" @ Star Shoes
in Hollywood. The other rotating resident
DJs are some heavy hitters like D.J. Kimyon
from NYC, Juan Atkins, Kenny Larkin, D.J.
Collette, and Reid Speed. It'll happen
every other Monday and we'll rotate based
on our availability. I've got mad respect
for all the folks involved so I'm really
looking forward to this one!! Plus various
fashion shows, wrap parties and other
one-offs around town. I have a few music
projects kicking around at the moment
too. My primary focus right now is a project
I am working on with Eli-173, called Photocall.
It's really exciting for me because I
am singing AND producing. It's something
where I am involved on every level. We
are working on a 3 song demo, and slowly
but surely, a dance album. It's influenced
by 80's, electro and italo- disco. It's
undeniably ass-shakin'. I am also working
on a solo album that is being produced
by Brad Laner (Medicine, Electric Company).
I love working with him because he is
so genuine and his talent is so diverse.
This album, which will be my first album
as a vocalist, is going to be it's less
dance oriented, more stripped down and
Also, Reverse Commuter is a project by
Ken Gibson(Eight Frozen Modules, Furry
things, Premature Wig) that I do vocals
for. Our first 12" just came out
on Hallucination Limited. We are touring
Florida next month to promote the record.
The music is kind of dubbed out tech-house.
It's a nice juxtaposition with my vocals
which are much more pure and feminine.
I'm really proud of the record. Ken is
incredibly prolific. He's got so many
different projects on so many different
labels that it's hard to keep up with
And... I'm doing lots of guest vocals.
I did vocals for a track called
"Fantasy"on the new Seksu Roba
album called "Pleasure Vibrations"
out on Eenie Meenie Records. Also did
some vocals for Omar Torres and Rabbit
in the Moon on some tracks that will hopefully
surface soon. And I'm always talking with
new producers about collaborations for
Wow. Well, what do you want to accomplish
with ALL that you do?
I want to reach my highest potential
as a creative force. I want to
continue to put out records as a producer/
vocalist, continue doing guest vocals,
cuz I learn so much everytime I work with
someone new, DJ all over the world. Perform
live. Maybe own a record label one day.
I also want to continue acting in the
film and television industry, finish writing
and developing my screenplay. Have a family
one day. Live happily ever after. I can
see myself settling down living in a big
house with a nice studio, a ring around
my finger, some kids running around. Bliss...
We think its bliss to listen to Lady
Lyric both on her turntables and ours.
If you can catch her live, its not something
you want to miss!
-- written by Jennifer Warner