Seven things you didn't know about... Amanda Palmer
Kim Taylor Bennett talks to the audacious Dresden Doll and solo-artist
Whether as a group member – in The Dresden Dolls with Brian Viglione or faux-conjoined-twin musical outfit Evelyn Evelyn with Jason Webley – or as a solo artist, Amanda Palmer is well worth your attention. After a long battle to extricate herself from her record label, Palmer launched a crowd-funding Kickstarter project in April with the aim of raising $100,000 to pay for her next album. After four weeks her fans had donated $1.2 million. The resulting album, ‘Theatre Is Evil’, with the Grand Theft Orchestra (out September 11 2012 on 8 Ft Records), embraces poppy new wave melodies as much as strings and balladry, and showcases Palmer’s enjoyably bombastic delivery.
She sees her donors as Santas.
‘[April] really was like a month-long Christmas morning. Every 15 minutes, I checked my Kickstarter and it was always just gleeful. I miss that month!’
She resides in an art commune in Boston with six other artists…
‘I’ve lived there for about 13 years. I’m actually the longest-term member, so pretty much everybody in the house is a friend who filled in a gap. It’s basically the most beautiful way to live; you just surround yourself with friends.’
…and their living quarters are a treasure trove of awesomeness.
‘The house is kind of a DIY architectural masterpiece. The coolest thing is on the top floor. It’s a chopped cedar tree, maybe 12 feet tall, that you can climb, and it takes you up to a loft at the very peak of the house which is covered by a glass-tiered dome.’
New song ‘Berlin’ is about her time working as a stripper.
‘It’s a coming-out song for me and the oldest song on the record. I stripped at this club called The Glass Slipper and my stripper name was Berlin, which I thought was an incredibly sexy stripper name. It’s a very personal one.’
As well as organising ‘ninja gigs’, Palmer has also used her Twitter to promote the Occupy movement.
‘I thought Twitter was a perfect way to rally a group of people and get them to actually connect with what was, or in some cases, what wasn’t happening at some of the different sites. Occupy was anarchic and fell apart, but the fact it was possible reminded a generation of kids that if you want to change things, you can band together and do so. America’s whole history is based on that.’
But she doesn’t consider herself a political person.
‘I can be more powerful by making bold art and being myself as authentically as possible. I honestly think that affects people more than telling people who not to vote for. Which doesn’t mean I won’t talk about what I want to talk about – I’ll always do that – but you can really paint yourself into a corner if you become a “political artist”. People look at my art and assume I like animals and assume I am into peace and love. Whether those are fair assumptions to make, I’ll leave up to you. You can send a stronger message by not saying those things but by simply being them and doing them.’
She has just one major vice.
‘I quit smoking ten years ago but I still crave cigarettes when I’m drinking. I am generally really disciplined, but if I don’t have any big important shows coming up and I’m at a bar, and you have cigarettes, then I will befriend you, nuzzle your shoulder and follow you outside.’