Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Text by Julia Masi
Images from the Internet
© 1985 FFanzeen

The following article/interview with the band Chequered Past was originally published in FFanzeen magazine, issue #13, in 1985. It was written by Julia Masi.

Their music is their passion. Drumbeats so precise they jumpstart the heart, and aggressive guitar riffs that accelerate the pulse, played by five dynamic personalities that form the mutual admiration society of Chequered Past.

As their name implies, Michael Des Barres (vocals), Clem Burke (drums), Nigel Harrison (bass), Steve Jones and Tony Fox Sales (who share rhythm and lead guitar duties), all come from very diverse cultural and musical backgrounds. Yet they have so much respect for each other that just doing a telephone interview with these guys could induce insulin shock.

“If I wanted to be in a band with my favorite guitar player, I’d want to be in a band with Steve Jones,” comments Nigel. “If I wanted to play the drums, I’d want to play like Clem Burke. Clem is my favorite. And it goes throughout the whole band like that.” Nigel seems like his voice rings with such warmth you can hear him smile. And Michael is too hip to lie.

“Everybody always asks,” offers Michael, “’How can a Blondie, a Sex Pistol, an offspring of Soupy, and a Detective come together and play music?’ And it just occurred to me this morning that the common thread that each guy has is power, energy, excess, strength and drama. All our attitudes are the same. The manifestations of our attitudes may appear to be different, but the core of the group is that we like to deal in power; strength. And the closeness of the group, everyone has been through so much shit that we’re very supportive of one another.

“A common thing with all of us is that we’ve been unique to whatever environment we’ve been in. And we’ve survived this ridiculous pressure that we’ve put on ourselves and that we’ve found ourselves in.”

In the beginning, Chequered Past formed for fun and played mostly top-forty cover songs. Their first gig was, according to Nigel’s calculations, on September 26, 1982, at the Peppermint Lounge, two years before the date of our interview.

“We are primarily a live band,” explains Nigel. “To me, making records is secondary. The main thing is the instant communication you get from clubs, whether there are 28 people in the clu8b or 17,000 people.

“The greatest part of a love affair is the first year, or the first week, or the first night. It’s the same with music and people in bands. Their best music comes out in the first few years.

“To really keep a band together truly as a band, you have to keep playing as much as you can. And not take a year off because someone wants to buy a country home or something, which is what happens in most successful bands, unfortunately.

“This album was just a trial run. I think every day we’re getting more in focus as to what we want to be, as opposed to what people expect us to be.

“This is our idea of what the ideal band, or what we think the ideal band will be. I’m not saying we particularly captured it on this record, but we will.”
Their album, Chequered Past, on EMI, offers their weakest cut, “How Much is Too Much” as the fist single. Most of the songs were written by Michael and Steve, except Waylon Jennings’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”, which they perform with such a verve you’d swear it was written for them. Michael particularly enjoys this song, “because it’s chequered. The lyrics are so appropriate to the band” ‘Lord, it’s the same old tune/Fiddle and guitar – “Michael pauses. Like most professional singers, he can’t remember the words unless he sings them. And after three attempts to recite the words he sings every night, he bursts into song: “’-Where do we take it from here/We’ve got rhinestone suits and new shiny cars/Where will we take it from here?’ The second verse is really cool. I goes, ‘Ten year on the road doin’ one-night stands/Dreaming my young life away/Tell me one more time so I’ll understand/Are you sure Hank a-done it this way?’ And the last verse is, ‘Lord, I’ve seen the world with a five piece band/Looking at the back side of me/Singing my songs/One of his now and then/Are you sure Hank a-done it this way?’” He laughs, “It’s really crazy. And he loves it. Waylon loves it.”

They’ve been considering this song as a possible single and video. “We’ve spoken to both Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, Jr. about the possibilities of being in the video, or getting involved. And they were so overjoyed at the fact that we’d even do a Waylon song, let alone call them up,” recalls Nigel. “It’s one of my favorite tracks. I like anything that’s against the grain, with a slant. I think a Blondie and a Sex Pistol doing a Waylon Jennings song about Hank Williams is interesting. I’d like to do more of that. Also, on stage, that song has taken on a whole different light. We allow for a certain spontaneity that comes from playing live.”

On stage, they are a lot more powerful than any band could be on vinyl, but their record does allow you to appreciate Michael’s lyrics. His songs are very structured and one of his goals is to tell the truth to his audience. His song, “Underworld,” is a short biography of the band.

“’Underworld’ is just an expression of rebelliousness, I think. Each guy sings a verse. Tony’s verse is, “Temptation in the City of Lights/Growing up in the glare of the spotlight/Daddy’s throwing pies on TV/Now I’m a prodigal celebrity.” And Steve’s is, “Always sound better on a stolen guitar/Could always go faster in a stolen car,’ about his experiences. And mine is, “Daddy was an aristocrat.’ I was raised by a very rich family. And just how all these ridiculous backgrounds all end up in the same area. We are all outside of our own environment. We all find ourselves together and we are all underworld, underworld being a euphemism for the other side.”

If anyone ever had an unusual background, it is Michael. While his father’s position offered many privileges, his mother “was so ridiculously eccentric. She was the main influence in terms of bohemia. She turned me on to Billie Holiday when I was nine. We used to sit around drinking red wine.

“I was educated by the most decadent institutional system in the world, which is the British Public School System, which trains you to be the leader of men – and play cricket.”

Leadership training should prove useful to the lead singer of a band, but Michael doesn’t see his position as that of a dictator. “One thing I’ve learned about leadership is that you’ve got to be humble. You’ve got to be kind. You’ve got to care about each other. To get fame is such a silly thing. My main desire is being sensitive to the needs of others. Because I’ve spent so long wanting it for myself; my needs were always so callous.

“I don’t believe in rock’n’roll stars. It’s an outmoded concept. I believe in the arts. And I believe in communication. To be a good, true artist you have to communicate. That’s what art is all about: if I’m communicating me, that’s important. It doesn’t matter who the me is. If they’re true to themselves and they communicate to one other person, then an artistic act has taken place. The whole idea of the benevolent superstar bestowing his thoughts on El Salvador to a 15-year-old audience sucks.”

For years, Michael wrote and performed as the androgynous fantasy character he created. The character was based on Turner in performance, and was an outlet for Michael’s obsession with the destructive superstar mythology. He grew up idolizing men like James Dean, Lord Byron, Errol Flynn, and John Barrymore, and the rock’n’roll stage seemed like a viable way to turn himself into a strange creature of his imagination. “It was at least two years before I could sing and I’d been in a band already.”

During that period, he claims to have been more interested in “finding the definitive earring” than in perfecting his music. He became lost in his alter ego and became a victim of the nasty clichés of rock’n’roll.

Eventually, he realized what was happening to him and decided to abandon this character. “When I finally came down to earth I had to talk about what was happening to me.

"I believe one creates one’s own experience. I live my life through principles and for the first time in my life I have some moralistic view of how I should behave. And it’s quite simple. I guess when I started to love myself a little, I started to get a handle on how to treat other people.

“Our little lot is sort of unique because we really do care for another; we support one another.”

Both he and Nigel enjoy being on the stage because it fosters their creativity. “Just the five guys being on the road, you get more of an identity,” says Nigel. “The songs come out of nowhere. We’ve already got about four new songs. And we’re really looking forward to making another album.”

Hopefully, the Chequered Past will have a long, bright future.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BOW WOW WOW: When the Going Gets Tough Annabella Takes Charge

Text by Julia Masi
© FFanzeen Magazine, 1983
Images from the Internet

The following article originally appeared in
FFanzeen Number 11, which was issued in 1983.

“I didn’t expect anything. I didn’t expect to be anything by myself. I’m just doing what I want to do. The environment changes you. The music business really changes you. A lot of people are greedy. A lot of people are just out for their own end and they don’t give a damn for anyone but themselves. And I think that’s a damn shame,” says Annabella Lwin, vocalist of Bow Wow Wow, reflecting on her four-year flight to fame. Slipping away from the crowds at the New Music Seminar, she shad on the bed in RCA’s suite at the Hilton and tried to explain what it is like to be the center of attention in an extremely hot rock'n’nroll band.

“I enjoy performing live. It’s the only time I get to stand next to the audience and have any real contact with them.

“I can’t really build up any solid relationships. People in your record company, you build up a relationship with, but people you met at gigs, you talk to them. And you’re on tour for four-and-a-half months; you leave and never see them. You meet so many people it’s hard to remember who they are. It’s the faces I remember.

“It’s really interesting being on the road. So much can really mix you up. You have to look after your heath, that’s the first thing. So many things can happen to you. Look what just happened to Matthew.” Earlier this summer, when the band played at Great Adventure Amusement Park in New Jersey, lead guitarist Matthew fell from the stage and broke his hand. And the band had to cancel the remainder of the tour to give Matthew time to recuperate.

“All those people are disappointed. Even the waiter in the restaurant the next day (after the accident) said, ‘We’re really looking forward to seeing you play.’ And I said, ‘I’m sorry, but the tour’s been cancelled.’ He was really disappointed. We’re disappointed, too. It wasn’t our fault. You’ve got to explain, that’s what we’ve been doing for two weeks. We’re all having a bit of a break.”

The past two weeks have not exactly been a vacation for Annabella and band. Their days have been heavily scheduled with interviews and appearances on local talk shows. Most of the band’s publicity centers on Annabella. And even though she is extremely loquacious, she’s often a little uneasy about all the attention.

“When I first joined the band, I was young and too naïve to know about the business. And sometimes people can push until they push a bit too far and push you over the edge.

“There was always a lot of controversy about album covers and stuff. Because I’m a girl and I was young. The media picked up on that right away. And I was being looked at differently. And it was really just me doing what I wanted to do.

“[The press] just see an image. They just see this shell,” she runs her hand in front of her face and torso. “Because I am what I am to people, they don’t seem to realize that there’s a different person underneath this shell. I’m a different person. They let their minds wander as far as images concerned. When people meet me, then they know what I’m like.

“It makes me laugh inside when I see these people; they act a certain way because they think I’m my image. Then they put on an image themselves just to talk to me. And I want to,” she collapse on the bed, points to the corner and laughs, “’Why are you doing that? Don’t you look funny!’ But I don’t. I just,” she sits upright, demurely crosses her legs and appears to be biting her tongue, “say, ‘Yes. No. That’s interesting.’ It’s really funny!

“That’s another thing I learned being the lead singer: I have to be the focal point. I have to do a lot of the plugging. The rest of the band doesn’t really understand the responsibility. You don’t understand that responsibility unless you’ve had it, and they haven’t.

“When the band started out it wasn’t meant to be [just] the lead singer; it was meant to e a band. Everyone in the band is one-quarter of the band. Me and Dave came over to do the interviews because we’re half the band. But they see it as Annabella of Bow Wow Wow. It puts more responsibility on me.”

She is very careful about how she handles the stress that accompanies her lifestyle. She watches what she eats and eschews liquor. “It’s not worth poisoning your body. Or poisoning your mind. Another thing I can’t understand is why people take drugs.” She quickly considers all the usual excuses and rationalization for indulging in chemicals and how prevalent it is in the business. Then she adds, “If they can’t handle the responsibility then they should get out of the business.”

Annabella, of course, has no desire to shed the spotlight. But if she did retire, she muses that, “I’d probably work in the dry cleaners. I’d probably make more money because of my success. When I left, they put a sign in the window: ‘Girl wanted to work in dry cleaners. Please don’t be able to sing.’ Actually, I’d always wanted to work in a cake shop. I love to bake anything that’s edible.”

Enough though Bow Wow Wow performs a concert scene in the soon to be released movie, Scandalous, staring Sir John Gielgud and Robert Hays, Annabella is not planning a life in the cinema. “I can’t act to save my life.” That’s probably a blessing in disguise because it’s her honest, on and off stage, that makes her appealing.

The following interview is from cable access show Videowave; other great interviews with various artists can be found on YouTube from this program.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Alex: Fruit, the Mafia and Cigarettes

Text © Robert Barry Francos
Images from the Internet

When I was 13 years old, there was a storefront diagonally across the street from our apartment which was shared by fruit stand run by Alex, and a butcher shop controlled by a man named Ruby. In the narrow space which was essentially cut down the center, each had a freezer, counter, and space for their wares.

My mom had me pick up some produce one day, and as I was walking out of the store, as a second thought I turned back and asked Alex for a job. I thought he said to come back in two weeks through a thick Italian drawl further complicated by the constant cigarette dangling from his lips.

I spent the next two weeks wondering if I had heard correctly, and pondering if I was going to make a fool of myself by showing up. I suppose I could have just ignored it all and continued on in my life, but I found the courage to be there. He said, that I could somewhat figure out, Saturdays, 10 to 3 PM, five dollars, start the next week. And I did, for the next three years. In all that time, I never saw Ruby, because he was Orthodox and did not open his store on Saturdays.

At the time I was short and rail thin, probably no more than 90-100 pounds. My main job was to hang around until Alex received a request from a customer (some were standing weekly orders), and then deliver it by bicycle. This bike was made of some sturdy metal, had only one gear, and was unwieldy thanks to its enormous weight. Also, it had a huge metal frame basket on the front. Alex rented it on a monthly basis from an Orthodox man a few blocks away who Alex certainly did not trust, nor like. Then again, Alex was generally suspicious of everyone, though we got along pretty well.

As well as the bike being solid, the fruit orders were put in boxes and sometimes weighed in at 50 pounds, or about half my weight, especially around Passover. For weeks, my legs ached from the hard peddling, and my arms were sore from carrying the boxes up to the customers, but I built up my first muscles over time, limited as “the guns” were.

It took me a while to start to understand what Alex was saying; at first, I didn’t need to comprehend much as he would write down the address with a thick grease pencil whose point was wrapped in paper and opened with a pull string to expose the point as needed, give me change for $20, and send me on my lumbering way. One Saturday, about 2 or 3 weeks after I started and was still a bit unsure, I came back from an order from a customer of whom Alex distrusted, which I could tell right off. He asked me, in a conspiratorial tone, “Hey, a-Robby, how much a-tip?” This was something he had never questioned before, but it was more about the customer. I responded, truthfully, “Fifteen cents.” Disgusted, he replied, “Fifateen a-cent? Fuckin-a-SON-a-ma-bitch!” Soon I found out that this was his expression, and he used it often. It still brings a smile to my face when I think of it. My pal Bernie Kugel has been imitating it since I first told him about it in the mid 1970s, well after I left the job. Over time, I started to catch on to the dialect.

Alex was an older man at that time, probably in his mid-70s, hunched over and standing around 5’5” (though I get the impression that he was once handsome and taller in his youth), cigarettes a constant (he smoked 3 or 4 packs a day) along with a smoker’s cough, and a solid body of muscle hidden under his white jacket. Once after a shipment from a produce supplier, Alex said, “a-Robby, check d’potatiz”; the Idaho potatoes came in bags of 50 pounds. In the center of his half of the store was a big hanging scale, such as one sees in supermarkets. The basket part lifted off and what was left was a metal hook. Again, not trusting the produce company and afraid of getting short-weighted, Alex wanted me to lift the bag of potatoes up to the hook, which was level with my head. As hard as I tried, I could pick up the bag, but not lift it high enough to get it on the hook. Red faced – from exercise and embarrassment – I had to tell him I could not do as he asked. Alex, mid-70s cigarette huffing hobbled over that he was, picked up the bag with one hand and put it on the hook, while looking at me and saying in a worried voice, “Atsa madda witcha Robby, yoo sick?”

In all the years I worked for Alex, I never cheated him, and he always gave me fruit to eat while I was there; usually he would cut off a piece with a knife he constantly carried to give a customer to show the freshness (he would never give the whole fruit), and then give me the rest when the customer left. Mostly, he trusted me, though the only times I recall his suspicion was if I called in sick (which was not often, even in the coldest of days). On those days, he would come up to my apartment to check up on me, to make sure I was not just being lazy. He would not leave until he clasped his eyes on me, to confirm my illness himself.

My mother and some of her friends would buy cigarettes from Alex for $5 a carton, which was relatively cheaper than from the store. Alex also took “numbers.” He enjoyed doing this because he didn’t like the price stores charged for butts. Alex loved three things, two of them being cigarettes and the mafia.

During World War I, when Alex was young and strapping, he worked in the shipyards in Sicily. Things like gasoline and cigarettes were hard commodities to come by in those days. One morning while hauling a load on the docks, a stranger asked Alex for a smoke, and in a moment of compassion, he gave the guy the whole pack and the matches. As it turns out, this stranger was a high ranking don, and he was so impressed by Alex’s generosity, he paid for Alex to take the boat to the United States, and arranged for him to start his store. Alex happily paid back the kindness through black market butts and numbers.

Alex’s third love was women. According to my mother, Alex was quite the lothario in Bensonhurst, and fathered many a child to the wives or girlfriends of GIs abroad during World War II. I don’t recall him mentioning any wives or children, but he was always looking and admiring others’ partners.

A few years after I moved on, Alex retired on the money he had saved through the black market material. This was after the meat half of the store closed when Ruby died, and Alex did not like having to pay full rent for the space. It is now a Russian deli and chocolate store.

Alex died in his early 90s, despite all his smoking, which he did until the end. Before that, occasionally I would see him playing cards with other retired gents in the local park on Cropsey Avenue and Bay Parkway. Sometimes I heard him before seeing his presence, especially when he lost a hand and would cry out, “Fuckin-a-SON-a-ma-bitch!”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

KATE BUSH: A Celebration of Principles

Text by Lynne Bevan
Images from the Internet
© 1985 FFanzeen

The following article/interview with Kate Bush was originally published in FFanzeen #13 in 1985, written by Lynne Bevan.

At the highest level, a transatlantic phone connection can be “the next best thing to being there,” and at the worst, a near disaster. Amplified buzzing, humming, another disturbing effects can put a damper on the most intriguing of conversations. So when Kate Bush placed a call from somewhere in the British countryside to this Stateside writer, apprehension was being developed at both ends. The anxiety was quickly dissipated\, however, when Kate’s charming accent clipped through the line with hardly a disturbance to bother with.

We rapidly adjust to the five hour time difference between us and being to converse: about her, naturally, and the music she creates.

“I’m concerned with promoting the music. I’m not really concerned with promoting me,” she professes.

The statement is an accurate one. Kate keeps her private life tightly under wraps. Whatever information is discovered about this 26 year old singer-songwriter-producer must be leaned from interviews, or more importantly, from the music itself.

Nineteen-seventy-eight was an auspicious year for Ms. Bush. Records being played most often on the British airw2aves during that time were mostly banal and inane. The initial reaction to her debut single, “Wuthering Heights,” was one of incredulousness. How did this young upstart get to challenge those musical stalwarts, anyway? After a couple of listens, “Heights” became firmly entrenched in the minds of the record buying pubic and speedily soared right to the top of the charts. The whirlwind journey of the single, and later The Kick Inside, her album debut, triggered other enticing prospects for the deserving songstress. The start-making machinery was in full swing and Kate went ‘round and ‘round.

“I wanted people to like my music,” she recalls. “It was fantastic that people received it so well. My schedule was so full, and I had so much to think about. I went to Australia, Japan, and Europe. In-between from coming from Japan, and going to Australia, I recorded the second album.”

The success was admittedly sweet, though problems occasionally developed to thwart Kate form her ascension to the top of the heap.

Reflecting on her choice to record a second album hot on the tracks of her initial smash, she stated, “That’s the only time I’d ever been in that situation, and though that’s how I wished it to be, I feel it’s not good to be releasing an album between promoting an album. The success of the first album was so great, that I couldn’t ignore the opportunity of pushing that success.”

Kate’s subsequent releases outlined her continued involvement into new territory. “Lionheart,” “Never For Ever,” and most recently, “The Dreaming,” could be compared more to journeying into uncharted waters rather than following a well-trailed path. You won’t find this lady altering her style to suit the average Joe. A quick spin through one of the discs proves this out. What’s forcefully apparent is that she refuses to be bullied into playing it safe.

Kate’s situation seems to be more the exception than the rule. Many corporate heads tend to champion high chart position and able at the mention of artistic freedom. To parlay some of that artistic freedom into big bucks may be what some record executives dream about but scarcely expect.

No matter. The connection between Kate and her label is real peachy. A carefully crafted bunch of songs are periodically handed over and are eventually released to the waiting public.

Admittedly, Kate has more razzle dazzle success in her native England than in North America. The mass sterilization of today’s radio doesn’t leave much room for esoteric offerings, however good they are.

What propels the serious music listener to plunk down the cash for one of her albums, anyway?

“I wish I could actually pin down the quality that enables me to keep working and keep people enjoying it, so I wouldn’t worry so much,” says the artful Bush. “Whenever I made an album I do everything I can to make sure, within the time allowed, that every song is as good as I possibly can make it.”

There’s been many printed words assembled regarding Kate and her career, but The Dreaming becomes the focal point since it’s the most recent of her releases.

“Many people keep finding new things within The Dreaming,” she offers. “By the third or fourth tie of listening to it, they will hear some of the things that we’ve put there in layers. Some of my favorite experiences are listening to albums. When you start listening to it a few times, you start hearing things that you’ve never heard before.”

It is true that The Dreaming is over two years old. The thinking here is to create a quality product; one that satisfies the artist’s creative guidelines. And if the procedure is a rather lengthy one, that’s just the way it is.

Well, Kate and I have been discussing matters for at least an hour. Her fans would be chagrinned lest I omit a much requested matter: the original release date of a new album has come and gone. We have all been milling about, waiting for something new. When will Kate comply?

“I’m very pleased wit the songs that I’ve got so far,” she volunteers. “I think they’re different than the last album.”

Pressing further on the matter elicits this response: “I always feel wary about talking before anything is completed.”

Whether or not the new album, when released, will be able to grab a coveted position on the charts is anybody’s guess. Kate says it best: “When the time is right for Americans, if it will be, then it will be.”

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Photo Tour of Breezy Point and Rockaway Beach, Queen, NY, on Nov 10, 2008

Photos and text (c) Robert Barry Francos

These photos were part of a solo trek along Queens, New York's Breezy Point and Rockaway Beach ("It's not hard, not far to reach..."). After taking the first photo, a police officer made me stop snapping the bridge, as it is apparently illegal in New York to do so. The final picture is someone doing yoga on the beach, but it has more sinister implications. For larger versions of the photos, double click on them. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

DIAMANDA GALAS: Screaming With Control (1985)

Text by Julia Masi
Photo by Robert Barry Francos
Album cover image from the Internet
© 1985 FFanzeen
The following article/interview with singer/musician/artist Diamanda Galas was originally published in FFanzeen in 1985 by Julia Masi, who kindly grants her permission to reprint it here.

Her voice vibrates with passion as strong and multifaceted as the stone she was named after. Sometimes, she adopts a “flamenco voice” that dances up and down the scale on the microtones of the piano, as she did for the Brooklyn Philharmonic’s Nshima. Sometimes she ignites the flames of Hell in your imagination with her shrei “intervenial electra-acoustic language.” Always, Diamanda Galas’s voice is the ultimate definition of synestisia.

Her album, Diamanda Galas on Metalanguage Records, offers only two of her works, “Tragouthia Apo To Aima Exoun Fonos (Song from the Blood of those Murdered)” and “Panopitikon,” but it is enough to make you overdose on sensation. This is the type of record that should be played at high volume, in total darkness, on a rainy night. The second the needle touches the vinyl, it unleashes a legion of sounds from all directions, as powerful as a punch to the solar plexus, or a blast of electric current to the temples. Diamanda sounds like a diva possessed and ready to wreak havoc on her unsuspecting audience.

Too often, critics dwell on the images of blood in her lyrics, or her elegantly svelte figure and long black hair that reminds them of Vampira, forgetting that Diamanda is a serious, accomplished artist. She began her career as a pianist, at the age of 14, playing Beethoven for the San Diego Symphony, and jazz covers (e.g., Fats Waller and Art Tatum) for the Saturday night crowd at a local VFW post. She holds a M.A. in music and her reviews as a vocalist in the jazz and classical modes are as lavish as the raves she receives in underground fanzines.

She conceived her unusual singing style several years ago as an “anti-entertainment manifesto.” With her back to the audience she would improvise, screaming sounds and words “like a painter would throw color, like Jackson Pollack. When I was using a microphone,” she explains, “I had certain sounds that were less vocalized sounds that could equal a huge palette of colors to draw on. I was using my voice as an artist to create sound sculpture.

“I realized that the human voice had a greater potential range than the piano or any other instrument. When I was in my early 20s, I started doing solo performances with my voice, trying to get complete control of that ‘instrument.’
“I started studying bella canta because the sound of an operatically trained voice is a very interesting kind of voice. It’s a steely type of sound that can pierce right through an orchestra. It’s really a strong sound. And I wanted to use that sound as well as all the other sounds I have. Also, I felt that the stuff I was doing with my voice was dangerous. And that, unless I really knew how to place the sound, I wouldn’t have a voice.

“My idea is that you have 200 screams, not just four or five. So that means you have to have complete training of the voice. That means I have to work like an athlete with my voice. I train every day. I work with a teacher five days a week in San Diego. I live a very reclusive sort of existence.”

And although her schedule is hectic, constantly tr4aveling from New York, to Holland, to Los Angeles, to San Francisco, and back to her vocal coach, Diamanda doesn’t complain. She is devoted to her art.

“When I sing with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, I have to sing every octave range. I have to be a classical singer. Plus I sing in clubs. And I sing at outdoor jazz festivals. I sing in so many contexts that my voice has to be perfect for each context, which means my voice has to be really disciplined.

Diamanda’s music grows like weeks. Lately, she’s been performing with nine microphones, “so I could distribute the sound throughout the room and send sounds to different parts, like a choreographer would work with dancers on stage. You can establish directions to go in. I use sound as choreographers use dancers within a company, except that the audience is in the center of the space in which the sound is being sent out.

“Now I’ll actually start to process sound with different electronics, so I’ll have a lot of different radical changes with the electronics. Anyway, that’s the technical aspect of the work. I’m only interested in really lurid music. I like music from a lot of the old horror films.”

Lately, Hollywood has been calling, asking Diamanda to score some science fiction and exotic subjects. She worked on the soundtrack for the upcoming Cannon film, Ninja, and is looking forward to the completion of her first video. “I’ve been asked to do video for years. I haven’t done one because it takes so much time. I would want to produce and direct the whole video myself. But I’ve been working on one with someone for “Panopitikon.” It should be out by fall.”

Until then, her album and thunder, or sudden storms, will have to suffice.

Included below is an brief excerpt of an interview with Diamanda when she appeared on New York cable access show Videowave, around the same time as Julia’s article, above.