I'd already started conceptualizing it [plague mass] in 1984 and working on it at the studio with my friend Richard Zvonar at the studio of Naut Humon.
FE: From Rhythm and Noise DIAMANDA: Yeah. We had met through someone, those wretched people at ReSearch I think--and then I wanted to use Naut's studio because he has a lot of Synclavier stuff and wonderful analog synthesizers and he's a real believer in my work. At the time I sorta made a deal that he could use vocal samples of mine for his record; I never sang on his record. Those are just vocal samples. FE: that's not indicated on the record at all. DIAMANDA: That's his choice.
FE: I had a vision of you and him and Z'ev all slugging it out. DIAMANDA: Oh, that's right, Z'ev introduced me. We were driving around in his car and he went, in a really great wheezy Z'ev voice, "Diamanda. I'd like to introduce you to these people. They live in Hunter's Point. You know, it's the biggest site of decapitation in San Francisco. It's very dangerous." What a perfect Z'ev line. Here we are, two hardboiled detectives driving out to Hunter's Point. He's giving me the whole line.
And he takes me out there and this guy Naut is almost like a Frankenstein out there with his hidden laboratory. He's one of the weirdest people I've ever met in my entire life. He's only into his work; he doesn't care if it ever gets released or if anyone ever finds out about it. He sleeps in this building on the floor and there're rats this big [BIG]. He just doesn't notice. They run right over him. He's been living there for years with this guy named Rex -a pro-sadism, mass murderer guitar player, and really a dangerous human being.
He just let me get started there. because I didn't have any money, in return for some vocal samples. Then he just decided that I could use the studio for nothing because he loved having me there. He was really generous. That's how I did "Free Among The Dead.'' I did it at Naut's studio. I talked to him about it in '84 and finished it, I guess, in 1985. And performed it as a benefit for Another Room at Club Nines or something a long time ago and he helped me.
FE: What did you sing for the vocal samples DIAMANDA: Oh he just gave me a lot of drugs and I said.''Alright. anything you want. AUUgghhn KLUHGBBB nm,m."
FE: Are you concerned about the legality of sampling in the 90s? DIAMANDA: Well he has my permission. I don't like it when people sample me, but in his case we did it as a trade.
FE: You were complicitous. DIAMANDA: I was real complicitous, let me tell ya. I was more than complicitous.
... FE: When did the multi-microphone stuff start? DIAMANDA: in the beginning, in 1980.
FE: That's not the beginning. DIAMANDA: It's the beginning of the microphone phase. [laughs] I've had so many lifetimes I feel somewhat like Gloria Swanson or whoever it was before that hit the swimming pool in Sunset Boulevard.
FE: Where did the idea come from? DIAMANDA: It just something I was discussing with Richard Zvonar. He's a true musical genius and he saw a performance I did with Jim French and those guys. So we started working together. He was doing a lot of engineering stuff and we became roommates. We used to discuss what I was doing and I would say, "I want to try different kinds of reverberation." You've got to have an infinite vocabulary in order to express what most people consider schizophrenia, but what I consider to be truth. That's my way of thinking.