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Amanda Palmer Interview October 2012

Emily Bruce


Amanda Palmer recently released her second solo album since The Dresden Dolls parted ways, Theatre Is Evil. Having broken records funding it on Kickstarter. I ask her if she thinks her achievements will inspire other artists to follow suit. “I think the future of the music industry is going to be a million solutions for a million different artists”, she says. “Crowdfunding worked perfectly for me, and will work perfectly for a lot of other artists, but there’s never just one solution to anything. Not all artists are cut out to run their own businesses. But the ones that are love crowdfunding, because it gives you total control.”

She tells me having a band (The Grand Theft Orchestra) join her for this record has made it “louder” and “more danceable” than her last album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer. “And it’s got WAY more boys, guitars and synthesizers”, she adds. “It was really, really fun to make, and we made it fast. The first solo record took almost a year to record…this one took 16 days.”

Amanda is a prolific tweeter, and she interacts a lot with her fans via social media. Some other artists – such as the XX – have said that they think interacting so much with fans is abnormal, however she rebuffs this claim as a generalisation. “When you’re an artist, NOTHING is abnormal. That’s the point of being an artist. You make up the rules as you go along. You know…the biggest problem I see nowadays is that people think that artists have inherent properties, like water or ice. The truth is that artists may have certain stuff in common (I.e., they “want to make art”, and even THAT’S not true half the time), but they’re just people. Some are shy. Some are loud. Some are quiet. Some are outgoing. Some are great at business. Some are awful. Some do drugs. Some bake cookies. The minute you try to generalize OR make rules to apply about or for them, you’re lost.

As an artist that herself varies between making full-on and quieter numbers, she’s not actually much of a fan of the former herself. “I don’t listen to loud music, ever. Especially when I’m on tour. My own loud music is about all I can handle.” As for what she’s been listening to recently, she says “before shows lately I’ve been listening to two songs: ‘Call Me Maybe’ by Carly Rae Jepsen and ‘Beeswing’ by Richard Thompson.”

About ten years ago, Palmer was just starting out with The Dresden Dolls. She tells me that when she imagined herself in a decade’s time then, “I thought I’d I’d be right about where I am, actually. And so I’m very happy. Not too small, not too big, making art pretty much every day, connecting with more and more interesting and kind people than I have time for. I could not ask for more.”

After having reunited with Brian Viglione for a Dresden Dolls tour in America recently, I ask her whether we can hope they might join forces again – and hopefully make it over to the UK this time. “I’m sure we’ll tour when we feel like it, as we love playing music together. I don’t see a future where we never do that again.” Having collaborated with lots of other artists – including Ben Folds, Regina Spektor and The Flaming Lips amongst many others – she says the most famous person she’d like to work with is Chilean-French avant-garde filmmaker and writer Alejandro Jodorowski.

Finally, I wonder whether she prefers the piano or ukuele – her main instruments of choice. “Trick question” she replies, “the answer is: banjo.”

Theatre Is Evil is out now, and Amanda’s European tour starts on 23rd October. See http://www.amandapalmer.net for more details.