In her book The Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer writes about a formative experience involving one of her favorite bands, The Legendary Pink Dots. When she was 18, a friend brought her along to a Legendary Pink Dots after-show party and mentioned that she made music. At that point Palmer had only recorded a rough 4 track demo (‘12 copies in existence’), and she was greatly dismayed when Legendary Pink Dots frontman Edward Ka-Spel actually wanted to HEAR her songs. But afterwards, Ka-Spel gave her words of encouragement that proved to be major catalyst of her career.
Reading this reminded me that Ka-Spel was one person who I’d always wanted to interview but hadn’t, so I reached out to him to see if he’d like to be featured in Chaos Control. Since it was on my mind, I initially asked for his recollections on that night he heard Palmer for the first time. His reply is below.
“I must say I remember that encounter where I encouraged Amanda to go ahead and expose her music to the wider world very well … It was a night for small talk, polite socialising, moderate sips on deadly potions. In reality, I always suffered a bit on those occasions, not quite sure how to behave beyond nodding and smiling (a lot).
“Consequently, it was a bit of a shock when someone pretty much ordered her to sit at the piano and ‘perform,’ even if it was a sympathetic roomful of people. I know I could never have done this myself and the lump in Amanda’s throat resembled an apple that was refusing to budge.
“Even so, the songs that emerged were delivered with the kind of passion I associated with an old hero of mine, Peter Hammill. Straight from the soul and the silence that resulted from the audience was more of a stunned one than the sound of politeness. Loved it.
“Just had to tell her…but outside in the cooler night air without other people around.
It’s true we did (and still do) receive a lot of tapes, cdrs and now files/youtube clips from a lot of people. I wish I could enjoy them all … but just a few wave the lamp in the fog. Amanda’s first tape was a floodlight and her first private performance was a storm. Great to see that kind of storm sweeping the planet ever since…”