Interview with Amanda Palmer in 2007
Interview by Peggy Mintun
Photographs by Amy Hooton-Morgan
Originally published on Omnibucket.com
Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls, the brechtian punk cabaret band from Boston, always delivers an energetic and soulful performance when she is on stage. She is currently working on a solo release planned for the spring of 2008.
What are the themes you explore in the new solo project, “Who Killed Amanda Palmer”?
The themes on the album have been emerging by accident, as I listen to the connections between the songs. The songs span a songwriting period of at least ten years, and sometimes it's discouraging to see that I actually keep harping on the same topics. Loneliness and independence are present in spades. So is an outside perspective on alienation in younger folks.
Earlier this year, you shared the stage with Debbie Harry and with Cyndi Lauper in the True Colors tour. Tell us a little about that experience.
It was highly educational, and actually a surprisingly warm warm environment. Margaret Cho was also around, and she and I had already worked together. I started the tour hoping that I would really glean some wisdom about how to juggle life on the road and I wasn't disappointed, I picked up a lot of tips from Cyndi and Debbie, even if they weren't aware of it. Watching other women cope with their day-to-day lives on the road is something I crave, because I certainly don't know how that fuck this is supposed to be done. Everyone in constantly in a state of trying to figure it out, even at 56. That's comforting.
How do you hope to influence women in a world where Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton seem to grab so much media attention?
I hope to not have any specific goals in this department, actually, and I think that's the best way to go about it. I feel my best shot in life in general is to work from integrity, do what I want, wear what I want, and follow my own inner compass and intuition. If I do this and achieve some level of success, then maybe some kids out there will take note and do the same. But the key is to pass on the not-so-secret secret that it actually WORKS to live this way. You will never, ever be able to make the world happy, but you can indeed make yourself happy by finding your own pleasures and pace. This is a message that the media seems intent on blocking at every opportunity because you'll never be able to market true authenticity. On that note: be yourself - drink Pepsi.
Would you say artists today have an obligation to use their work to effect political and social change?
Absolutely not. This relates to what I was just saying about finding your own path as an artist, or as a human being. Once you start believing that you have a certain "obligation" or "responsibility" as an artist you can really fall into a soapbox trap. I'm not saying that it's a waste of time to work for a cause that you believe in. Take a look at that question and just replace the word "artists" with "people". Artists, and human beings, can effect the most change by living honestly, every moment. This actually causes the largest and most significant shift in the world, even though it may not be loud on the surface.
Is there anyone on particular you would like to work with in the near future?
Oh, my fantasy collaboration list? At the moment it includes Annie Clark from St. Vincent, Nick Cave and Laurie Anderson. I wouldn't mind knocking out a film with Jean-Pierre Jeunet or Wim Wenders.
What are your thoughts about peer to peer file sharing, and the relative ease that music is shared across the Internet? Do you see this as potentially beneficial or inherently detrimental to artists?
I think we have to accept the fact that technology is dictating the way things are heading, and that the direction is towards the free distribution of music. I'm all for it. As long as bands can make a decent living through touring and merchandising things will be fine: we're going back to the old model where music was floating free in the air and the musicians had to find a creative way to capitalize on their talent.
Amanda Palmer at the Edinburgh Fringe Set, August 2007
Courtesy of Amy Hooton (http://amyhooton.deviantart.com/)
Special thanks to Amy for making this interview happen!