INTERVIEW: Amanda Palmer (USA), February 2011

Another double-up – which is a surprising rarity in the history of my interviews. She was quite nice the last time; very gentle and could tell that I was a fan, even if I was a little over-excited and ham-fisted in my interviewing. This time around, I pretty much let Palmer take the driver’s seat, only occasionally guiding the conversation. I think that’s what you’ve got to do with someone like her. It’s not much of a structured interview process – she’ll take the ball and run like hell with it. I kind of love her for it.

– DJY, October 2014


She might have been the one to pen and sing the lyric “You don’t want to hear about my good day” all those years ago, but when you’ve had a good a day as Amanda Palmer has, you’d be mad not to want to hear about it. “Okay! So…” begins Palmer with a deep breath. “Why was my day so awesome? Well, first of all, I played an incredible fucking show in Newcastle last night. It was out-of-control fantastic, one of those sublime electric gigs where we turned that bar into some kind of crazed palace. Then, we slept in the venue because it turns out they had a bunch of Futons in the office – we were going to stay with fans, but then we figured we should just crash there.”

“We woke up, and this place – the Great Northern – it had this amazing ballroom on the second floor, which could probably fit like a thousand people. The boyfriend of one of my opening acts texted me in the morning and said “We have to do a video in that ballroom before you leave.” My train was leaving in half an hour, but I was like “Holy fuck, you’re right!” So we put off the train for two hours, he ran over and we made this spontaneous music video for In My Mind from my Australian record [ Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under ]!” Surely this day couldn’t get any better? Oh, it does: “When I got to Sydney, I was on hold to do a chat with The Doctor at Triple J. I listened to his interview with Nick Cave, and he asked about my cover of The Ship Song …and Nick Cave said it was beautiful!”

You can’t blame Palmer for being in heavens-high spirits after that kind of day, now, can you? It’s all part and parcel for whenever AFP (the F is for Fucking, naturally) visits our fair country, and it’s the way it has been since she first started touring here as a part of The Dresden Dolls. “Everytime I come to Australia, awesome things happen,” she says with a laugh. “That’s why I keep coming back!” It’s probably the reason why Palmer’s latest album – a collection of mostly-original material recorded entirely within Australia and New Zealand – doesn’t really come as too great a surprise. It’s a long lasting, passionate and very much mutual love affair.

“I’m a very spontaneous, very messy person,” confesses Palmer, “and I have made an art of improvising my way through life. That seems to be something that Australians really appreciate. There’s just something about Australia and Amanda Palmer that resonates really perfectly in this embrace of the improvisational, do-it-yourself way of life.”

As nice and as smooth-running as things can be for Amanda, it doesn’t quite always go to plan. Just a few weeks ago, Palmer played at the Sydney Opera House for the third time in three years in what was described as an “Australia Day Spectacular.” It was Palmer’s biggest Opera House show to date, starring her friends The Jane Austen Argument, Michelangelo and The Black Sea Gentlemen, Meow Meow and Palmer’s husband, author Neil Gaiman. From various reports, as well as a few unhappy reviews amidst the blogosphere, the show was a bit of a shambles. Palmer is asked to clarify exactly what happened.

“We were going to have a rehearsal the day of our show,” she begins. “It turned into this messy soundcheck with a lot of problems, so we were really under-rehearsed. Then the setlist was written at the last minute, and during the show I accidentally skipped ahead five songs. I realised it two songs in and then had to backtrack and figure out how I was going to get everyone on and off-stage when I needed them for the songs. It turned into a classic disorganised rockshow, and naturally I’m telling everyone about it as it’s happening. Shows like that happen to me all the time…but they don’t happen at the fucking Sydney Opera House!”

“I’ve been talking with so many of the fans since it happened,” she continues. “And even more importantly, I’ve been talking to people who weren’t fans who were there – who got dragged by a friend, or their kids, or because of work. Nobody hated the show, which is a relief, but it still scares the shit out of me. I wonder: why am I capable of getting away with this? I guess maybe people found it refreshing that, in a venue like that, something got completely improvised right in front of them. When you know you’re getting something completely fucked-up and special, that’s where the blanket of forgiveness falls hard.”

This craziness continues to be adored by a swelling cult fanbase upon each and every visit, and one day it may well get to the point where AFP simply doesn’t leave. Not that we’d be complaining, of course – it’d be bloody un-Australian to not make her feel at home, wouldn’t it?

INTERVIEW: Amanda Palmer (USA), February 2009

Whether you love her or hate her, Amanda Palmer is a fantastic interviewee. Trust me, I’ve done it twice. We’re not like this (wraps index and middle finger together) but I’ve been a very interested and involved fan since around 2004. I remember seeing Girl Anachronism on rage; then rushing to my diary and writing The Dresden Dolls‘ name on every page so that I wouldn’t forget it.

Of course that kind of fire has died out – I don’t think I care about anything the way I cared about things in 2004. Still, I have all of her albums (both solo and with the Dolls) and I’ve always found her to be a unique and interesting figure in modern music. There’s certainly never a dull moment with her, regardless of whether you agree with her or not.

I remember being REALLY excited about this interview – at the time, I probably thought this was the best interview I had ever done. Apart from maybe the Adam Green one. You never forget your first. Looking back on it, I think I handled it pretty well. I’d change a few things now, but I was all of 18. I was just stoked to be talking to someone that wasn’t in my immediate family.

– DJY, April 2014


Amanda Palmer is tired. Exhausted, even. You can hardly blame her, given her excessive touring schedule and the almost shocking contrast of minimal break-time in-between them. What’s worse is the fact that, even in her free time, she is scheduled to speak to journalists about stuff she’s spoken about a million times before.

Even still, amidst the exhaustion there is quite obviously an introspective, chatty and friskily intelligent woman. She’s best known as the leading lady of the Dresden Dolls, but as of recent times a solo artist in her own regard. Last year saw her release, at long last, her debut solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, produced by the one and only Ben Folds.

After in-depth tours of both the States and Europe, it’s time to bring WKAP to Australia, along with the Danger Ensemble, her performance troupe. And yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to celebrate. AFP (Amanda Fucking Palmer) will be visiting out fair shores to coincide with the annual Mardi Gras festival in Sydney.

“I’m a sucker for a good party,” Palmer confesses with a giggle. “I deliberately planned to be in Sydney for the Mardi Gras. I narrowly missed it in Sydney back in 2000; I wound up at the Adelaide Fringe instead and I never forgave myself. It’s a perfect time to be in the city with everybody getting their freak on and going nuts!”

Fear not, non-Sydney fans. Melbourne, a city Palmer herself has oft-described as beautiful, will also be getting its own distinctive visit. This one is going to be even more of a special, exclusive event – she is planning a slumber party.

“I’m taking a little vacation in Melbourne before my shows in Sydney and I wanted to do a really low-key show. So I came up with the idea of doing a free show by making people submit their dreams to be considered for admittance. We’re only letting in twenty people plus one guest each, and it should be REALLY fun.” Amanda also tells of a very special surprise for each of the lucky guest winners, but insisted it to be kept mum (Melburnians, get to it if you wish to find out!).

Despite not having visited our shores since very late 2007, fans here in Australia and the rest of the world have been able to keep in touch with Palmer via her intricately detailed and very interactive blog. Updated regularly, fans worldwide have read on as she discusses the finer points of her own life and the world around her. When questioned on the blog’s importance in regards to connection with the fans, Amanda is, in turn, lightening quick in praising it.

“I’ve grown really attached to it – I kind of rely on it,” she responds timidly. “It’s so amazing that I can have these really direct hits and connections with individual people that I just can’t have when I’m playing a show to 2500 of them. I can do it in the quiet of my own living room with a cup of tea and really sit down and listen to what people are saying and feeling and thinking… I’m a total ‘people junkie’ that way; I really, really like it.”

At the time of our interview, Amanda’s latest blog entry was entitled “On Abortion, Rape, Art and Humour.” It’s all about her latest single from WKAP – Oasis, the ironically upbeat number about a girl who got drunk, got raped and had an abortion. Next to every radio and music video station in the U.K. is refusing to play the song. Whilst one could theorise that Palmer knew the song’s lyrics would elicit some kind of outrage, she insists that she truly wasn’t expecting something of this level.

“I definitely assumed that conservative people wouldn’t like it, but I was really shocked to find out that they wouldn’t play the song,” she states, before adding, “especially things like NME and Kerrang!, who really pride themselves on being ‘edgy.'” Despite her very open frustrations, AFP is quick to look at the positives of her situation. “It brings up some really interesting points, at least,” she continues. “I was happy to write that blog and get people talking about the topic – I think it’s important.”

Amanda Palmer’s body of work is daring, funny, melancholy, theatrical and purposeful – but, most importantly, it is completely open to interpretation. “If someone was to take anything away from it,” begins Palmer, in reference to her music, “I would hope that they would just be inspired to follow their own desires and impulses; maybe be a little radically honest with themselves or with their situation.

“I’m starting to feel lately that it’s really important not to have a ‘message,’” she continues with a slight laugh. “Because I think people need to come up with their own. The minute you have a specific message that you’re preaching, then you close off possibilities for other people. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, because the Oasis thing was a good example. That song doesn’t really have a message, but it doesn’t really have to – sometimes it’s enough to say, ‘I got this idea and I sat down and I did it, and here it is.’ And the undercurrent in that is that so can you, y’know?”