With a voice truly possessed and a life's mission/work-in-progress always
evolving, Galas - one of the most riveting and intense performers of our
time - is constantly trying to shake people out of their apathy and meek
acceptance of the many horrors thrown at them by life, death and the image
Born and raised in San Diego, she has been "doing music" since she was
five years old. Somewhat later, she worked with Greek composer lannis
Xenakis, the inventor of Stochastic music (music based on mathematical
theories of large numbers and probability), and French/ Yugoslav composer
Xenakis is a lone wolf, belonging to no "school" and probably the only
major contemporary composer with no "disciples" to speak of, writing some
of the most astonishingly difficult and off-putting music imaginable.
Globokar has written music centered on the relationship of voice to instrument
and has given licence to the improvisatory potential within the interpreter.
The theatrical element is very prevalent along with his conviction that
music must have a critical role in society, that it must confront social
problems, and that to do so, music must invent new techniques, new materials
and new means of presentation.
These two influences have been directly and indirectly responsible for
Galas' unique, uncompromising and socially very conscious musical route.
The onset of the AIDS epidemic, her realization of its staggering proportion
and the death of her brother from the disease set her life and career
on a path of no return.
"In 1986," Galas states, "I started work on the Divine Punishment in Hunter's
Point, one of the decapitation districts outside San Francisco." Why such
a bleak locale? "Because otherwise the cops come. They hear me singin,
and they think someone's getting killed... and since the cops don't want
to go out there, it's perfect."
She then moved to London and Berlin, recognizing that she couldn't get
the kind of financial support she needed in America. "I also recognized
that if I allowed the project to be put out merely by an avant-garde classical
label, it would disappear." The solution came in the form of Mute Records.
"So Depeche Mode paid my bills. Which is fine with me, because that's
what they're supposed to do!" she says.
Galas live performance is a thing of epic proportions: at its most extreme,
she will appear on stage bare-chested, covered in blood/red liquid, with
a live or taped band of drums, keyboards, electronic percussion/tape manipulations/
effects and her own grand piano - all at very high volume. Bathed in deep
red and blue gloom, a church sanctuary (if she's allowed in!) completes
the satanic circle.
Not Danzig satanism, mind you, but rather the Luciferian Light-Giver,
the "God"-defying Promethean liberator; and all of it in your bleeding
face. Galas' tone, self-described as a "Southern Baptist Preacher on acid"
is still the voice of Vena Cava, the current installment of the Plague
Mass. But her focus is now so keen she eschews the band and presents it
as a solo piece. "It deals with the connection between clinical pseudo-demen
tia and AIDS dementia in an emotional and behavioral sense," she says.
Galas is outraged by the attitude of the medical profession and the media:
"A lot of times, clinicians describing AIDS dementia fail to see the chaotic
sense of despair that a person is going to have with a death sentence.
Death by media, at least, in the sense that there's very little hope advertised
by the mainstream press... Behaviors that seem to be organic in origin
are simply cries of despair... A lot of that could be alleviated if there
were more support by the government, the medical associations, the pharmaceutical
industries, who are making a big buck off of this, and by insurance companies
who do nothing except insult people."
Musically, this translates into two-plus octaves of amplified and treated
voice, wailing and shrieking mono-syllables and stream of consciousness
ramblings to make you understand, to TORTURE YOU, to grasp the full implication
of the crushing despair destroying so many. Galas has the words "WE
ARE ALL HIV+" tattooed across the knuckles of one hand.
"I don't do these things as projects," she says. "They just happen...
I wanted to do this for a long time, so I got together with some lesbian
witches I know and did it."