By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
“Insekta means something that is too small to be seen -- it‘s perceived as invisible, because it’s no longer there,” she says. “It‘s something, but because you don’t see it, it‘s perceived as invisible to us, and therefore it doesn’t exist. It‘s like people talking about anthrax here, and all of us in the AIDS community are saying, ’Anthrax? Those are just drugs coming from the graves of the dead of AIDS. Come on, give me something to be scared of!‘ You deal with an insane situation for 20 years and grieving for people for 20 years, you gotta try harder to scare people like us. You gotta try to scare -- you may make us very sad, but you’re not gonna scare us with shit like that.”
For members of the Eastern Orthodox religions, attacks like those on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon are nothing new. Defixiones addresses, among other things, the devastation on entire cultures as inflicted by the Turks, among others. It‘s a scenario that has been played out in Armenia and Greece, in Assyria and with the Kurds for hundreds of years. While Galas’ piece has actually been in preparation for several years, its premiere at this time seems prophetic.
“You know what kills me? What is truly horrible is to create work that very few people understand, or people think you‘re fuckin’ nuts doing, and then feel the prescience of it. It just drives me -- I can‘t sleep, because all these things, these realizations, they co-exist in my mind. I see, in the case of the Greeks of Asia Minor and the Pontic Greeks, the Assyrians and the Armenians, as well as the Hindus, for that matter, what many groups of people who have suffered through for centuries -- this idea of purging the infidel, jealously coveting what he has and wanting to destroy him, but wanting to retain the unseemly creations and ’parasitic‘ enterprises of this ’enemy of God.‘
”The Armenian Genocide Resolution was blocked by the combined interests of Turkey, Israel and the United States. The same genocide denial will occur with the Anatolian Greeks and the Assyrians, who were starved to death and slaughtered in death marches under the guise of deportation. [More than one million Greeks were forced to leave their Asia Minor homeland in 1922-1923, during the Greek-Turkish exchange of ethnic minorities.] Now that the Eastern Christians have been finished off, the Kurds have become the new irritant to the concept of the national [Turkish] order. When the Turks buried the Greeks in mass graves, they said, ’We don‘t know what happened to these people. You are exaggerating the numbers of deportees.’ And we know what happened to the Greek Cypriots: Los Desaparecidos.
“Some of the Greeks in power, they don‘t need the Turks to fuck them, they fuck themselves. They just say, ’Okay, we want to be Europeans, too,‘ and a lot of people I know who are Greek activists, Armenian activists, Assyrian activists, Kurdish activists, we have to fight that all the time, because it’s like saying, ‘Okay, I accept you killing my culture.’ The analogy is very close to the way the Indian culture was killed by the Spanish culture: ‘You don’t exist, you don‘t exist. We are raping your culture, you don’t exist.‘”
These are the biggest, saddest of themes, and require music of wide extremes. And one of the strangest and sickest facts about music and art that addresses horrific subjects is that, in order to persuade, it has to be pleasurable. So the startling thing about Diamanda Galas, who’s currently without an American record label, is the exhilaration one experiences upon witnessing her onstage. To have any performer deal articulately with topical monstrosities is rare; to have such a badass musician saying it is a gift from God. We know Galas reigns as the queen of extended vocal technique, a voice that has only gained in power and versatility over the years (she trains constantly, like a boxer); she has also, in recent years, become one of the greatest, most original piano players on Earth, with a strong lower-two-octavehighest-octave attack that perfectly stabs the drama of her lyrical concerns.
So, yeah, Diamanda Galas is katharsis -- since the worst human conditions call for new harsh responses. She‘s also someone from whom anyone looking for new inspired music can derive maximum thrills -- whether or not he gives one big shit about human suffering. Chances are, however, that he won’t remain unscathed after hearing it.
Diamanda Galas says: “I never, never do work because I feel that people are going to relate to it. I do it because I feel that I need to do it. I could say I have my own religion during this time -- the truth of my own convictions. I think one has to search one‘s soul very, very, very much. I’m not sure how many people do that. But I‘m willing to search my soul. I expect everyone else to do the same.”
Diamanda Galas performs at UCLA, Royce Hall, on Thursday, November 29.