Launched last year after telling email subscribers of his plan to communicate outside “some of the more conventional ways of getting information across,” The Red Hand Files is a space where the musician fields questions from the public, sharing his replies with his fans.
In the latest instalment, Cave responded to two fans both asking a similar question. Florencia of Stavanger, Norway asked: “How would you describe a stereotypical Nick Cave fan? We all have a perception of you, how do you perceive us?”
The second fan, who simply went by the name ‘Me’, asked: “I am kinda involved with my third Nick Cave fan. They are all just, er, impossible to resist. Also my friends who are from the same universe say, “Nick Cave fans are just too kind and special”. What do you think about your fans?”
The musician began by describing what he feels when he’s stood on stage staring out at the crowd. “I feel a tremendous need emanating from the audience,” he said. “I recognise this need because it exists within myself. I think we all see the opportunity for rapture and recognise its importance.”
Going on to describe what live performance as an art form is to him and how important the fan aspect of it is, Cave said: “I say this because the performative act, for me, is a process of peeling away one’s ego and self-importance, of letting go and laying oneself open to the audience, in a mutual acknowledgement of each other’s humanity. In doing so, a simple but profound connection is made.
“This connection is the responsibility of both the audience and the performer – we take each other’s hands and move beyond ourselves to a higher place of spiritual reciprocity in order to restore each other. If we can do this together, we have achieved something sublime.
“Perhaps there are some performers who see the performative process as a one-way street,” Cave continued, comparing his relationship with his fans in a live setting to other artists’. “Personally, I do not see it in this way, at all.
“As the writer, Greil Marcus says, the performer needs ‘an aggressive, critical audience, with a conscious sense of itself as an audience, … one whose complexity and diverse needs can push an artist beyond comfortable limits.’ This is how I experience it. I feel, on stage, that the audience is making me, just as I am making them, in an act of shared, primordial creation.”
Personalising his message to Florencia, he told her that his fans have “grown to be uniquely devotional” and that collectively he and The Bad Seeds are “more devotional to the audience and their needs.”
Also addressing ‘Me’, Cave said they should “be careful with that third Nick Cave fan you’re kinda involved with. Be nice. Treasure her or him. They are indeed kind and special people, full of a formidable beauty and may just end up being the very best part of you.”
Meanwhile, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds released their last album ‘Skeleton Tree’ in 2016 and the frontman recently gave an update on the state of their follow up at an event in Melbourne, saying he was “very, very excited about it” and recording would wrap soon.