This version of the Opera Daisy was created especially for The Legendary Pink Dots. They used The Daisy on their EP Alchemical Playschool.
Here’s the story of how it came about:
Back in October 2000 dAs and Ninah (of Big City Orchestra) got married, renamed themselves Ninah and dAs Pixie, and traveled to Europe for their honeymoon/tour where they spent a few days with longtime friend Phil (Silverman) Knight of LPD in Nijmegen, Holland. There Phil had his first encounter with the original prototype Opera Daisy which I had given to Ninah and dAs as a wedding/tour gift.
Phil was quite impressed and amused with this curious little noisy flowerpot gadget.
Fast forward to mid-October 2003. Edward Ka-Spel of LPD did a solo tour, with a date at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco. He stayed with Ninah and dAs, and there had a chance to play with their Opera Daisy.
He loved it! Edward went off by himself for a bit and wrote a little piece for it (renaming it “George”), and encouraged Ninah to perform with the gadget at the show that night. Madness ensued. (Unfortunately, I was unable to attend…)
I decided I had to make a special edition just for the Pink Dots. After all, they had given me 20 years of inspiration with their music. It was a great thing to be able to give something back.
I found out that there were some LPD shows scheduled for June 23rd & 24th 2004 in SF, again at Cafe Du Nord. Big City Orchestra was opening for them (doing an noisy ubish version of Verdi’s il Travatore or The TraUBador), and I was going to be running sound for BCO. This was my chance.
On ebay I was able to locate a few more of the raw Dancing Daisies, and I began work on the Pink Dots special edition.
I had mapped out the board already, and the new gadget would have basically the same functionality as the other Opera Daisy (2 optical resistors sewn onto the leaves to control the issuing noise optical-theremin-style) with some minor interface changes, so doing the electronix was the easy part. The paint job was fairly complex and took the most time. I decided to go with a black and white theme, with a few pink dot accents here and there: pink around the main toggle switch (which is: center mute, up and down make noise, each slightly different, the down adding a bit of distortion to the sound), and pink at the center of the flowers. Each flower had to be taken apart and individually painted, as well as the stripes on the stems. See here for some construction shots.
The Dots would also need a secure box to transport it as they live in Nijmegen, Holland, and tour Earth a lot. I custom painted a chinese box I got with a clock: painted it black then stenciled on fields of pink dots (I collect all kinds of perforated metal and plastic for stenciling gadgets). The box does look too narrow, but the leaves on the Daisy fold up and, with some extra added foam, it fits nice and snug.
As a whole design idea and package, the Daisy and box turned out really great. A coherent and satisfying design project from start to finish.
So, then I presented the Opera Daisy to Edward and Phil.
At the Cafe Du Nord show on June 23rd, the Pink Dots were running late, coming from the show the night before in LA. After they arrived, everyone was very stressed out, and sound check for both the Dots and BCO was strained and rushed. But, when there was a few minutes of calm, dAs encouraged me, and we grabbed Phil and Ed and took them to our green room.
I said I had a special gift for them…I pulled out the box and handed it to Edward. His eyes lit up. He and Phil knew that I was the one who built the other Opera Daisy “George,” and as they opened the box, they yelped in delight. This they didn’t expect! Their very own whimsical singing flowerpot! Both Ed and Phil couldn’t believe it, and were very grateful and excited to play with it. But, the show was to begin soon, and the playing with the gadget had to wait until tomorrow.
The next day, I went over to dAs and Ninah’s house, where Phil, Edward, and Lisa (the Dots tour manager, webmistress, list moderator, and everything-else extraordinaire) had stayed the night before.
There Phil and Ed were able to relax for the day (after something like 28+ shows and another 8 to come). We hung out and shot the shit for the afternoon, getting ready for the next show that night. It was a pleasure to hang out with them, and find many things we had in common. I feel that I met two new friends that day…
We also took some shots of them playing with the Opera Daisy.
This shot on the left is (from the left) Phil (looking on), Edward (playing the Daisy), and me (grading Ed’s performance technique: B+, some room for improvement, but catching on quick. It is a very subtle instrument; minor movements are necessary to achieve the greatest effect).
And, don’t worry Phil. I know Ed’s going to hog the gadget. I’m making a special gadget for you…
Completed: June 21st, 2004
Dimensions: Appx. 12″ high
Pissing off Edward Ka-Spel’s neighbors
Pretty much the same as the original Opera Daisy.
The Dots used the Opera Daisy on their 4 track EP “Alchemical Playschool”
available on Bandcamp.