Dark Arts

takes you on an emotional and visual journey to distant lands and mystical places


Stephanie Payne has been making music under the guise of Dark Arts since 1984. The first recording was produced and engineered by Steve Albini (best known for his bands Big Black and Shellac, as well as his production work with the Pixies, Nirvana, PJ Harvey and around 1,500 other bands). “A Long Way From Brigadoon” was released on Albini’s short lived “Ruthless” label in 1985. This release features the talents of Bob Katt, Dave Manic, Bill Bruner and S.A. Mason. 


Next, Dark Arts was featured on a compilation entitled  “The October Country” issued on Nate Starkman and Son. The import-only release “Carnival of Lost Souls,” produced and engineered by Biff Sanders (of Ethyl Meatplow and Polar Bear), can also be found on Nate Starkman and Son and was released in 1991. Vocals by Mason, Payne, Karen Schub, Jeff Clark with Douglas Paul, Jeff Froyd and Biff Sanders. 




The Dark Arts release “Something Once Whispered to Cava” was released in 1999 on Falcata-Galia and it features the talents of Julie Fowells (Geraldine Fibbers) on violin, Joyce Rooks on cello, Raul Casillas and Biff Sanders on percussion, and the vocal talents of Cheryl Russell, Scotty Chapman, and Stephanie Payne. Stephanie wrote all the material and played all remaining instruments. Shortly after, Payne self released the 45 for "Jola Dool" on her own SFB Records. 


Dark Arts has shared the stage with many diverse bands including: The Cocteau Twins, Big Black, Urge Overkill, Naked Raygun, Anna Homler and Drowning Pool. Stephanie enjoys working with a wide variety of musicians and instruments, which enables her to create her eclectic and other-worldly sound.




Dark Arts most recent recordings feature Stephanie Payne on dulcimer, piano, percussion, flute and melodica (amongst other sound-making objects), Sharon Berman on accordion, ballophone, recorder and percussion, and Juan Wijngaard on hurdy gurdy, recorder, mouth harp, and percussion. Recorded at Catasonic Studio by Mark Wheaton.

Dark Arts new album is available now and is a retrospective of sorts with new tracks on STROOM. STRLP-035