I was introduced to Amanda Palmer through a friend of mine who showed me her talk The Art of Asking. This special speech not only had a massive impact on me but also on many other people– when you listen to it you’ll soon understand that stating it as “life-changing” and “mind-blowing” is not exaggerated, and her other talks and songs are works everyone should know. Amanda Palmer simply is an incredibly inspiring, wise, and amazing person, and AMBY had the great chance of interviewing her. We talked about her latest album Theatre is Evil, a funny moment at one of her gigs, and singing a song for the Daily Mail!
AMBY: Hi Amanda, thank you so much for speaking with AMBY. How are you doing, and what have you been up to lately?
AP: Well, I sang a song for the Daily Mail the other night that’s made me very happy.
And right now I’m in Brighton enjoying a brilliant day off near the beach and about to take my whole band for a vegetarian dinner. Other than that, I’ve just been touring and touring with this wonderful outfit of freaks, making big noise every night and hugging a lot of people.
AMBY: Your latest album Theatre Is Evil is absolutely amazing. What are your thoughts on the record now that there’s been time to reflect on it?
AP: I think it’s the best album I’ve produced. Collaborating with this particular band and producer (John Congleton) was one of those perfect alchemies where I look back and think if ONE person had been swapped out, the magic might not have been caught. But every piece fell perfectly into place. When I started putting together this record I had a picture in my head of how it would sound, and we really nailed every detail into place the way I’d imagined. That doesn’t always happen. I’m still high, listening to it.
AMBY: Which songs are your favourite off Theatre Is Evil?
AP: Ohh, that’s mean. Song-wise, I think “The Bed Song” is the best song I’ve yet written. But production wise, I think “Smile”, “Grown Man Cry” and “Bottomfeeder” are pure Congleton genius.
AMBY: You have an incredible way of telling stories through your song-writing. My favourite example of this being The Bed Song. Is it important to you for your lyrics to tell a story?
AP: No, only if that’s the kind of tune I’m trying to write, if you know what I mean. Songs like “Olly Olly Oxen Free” and “Bottomfeeder” are more like abstract paintings – you get a feeling for the content but there’s no plot to follow. I write the songs as they come…I try not to boss them around. If they’re totally literal, then fine. If they’re not, I don’t argue. They belong to different boxes.
AMBY: Your The Art of Asking video is so inspirational to me and has had a huge impact on how I approach running my website. What has been one of the best success stories you’ve heard from people who have watched the videos?
AP: Oh, there’s been so many. I got an email this morning from an older guy who lives in New York and has been trying to save an old, historic theater society. He told me my TED talk inspired him to change his approach about how he asks his patrons to help out, and the results led to thousands of dollars in support and a viral spread of the campaign. I’ve been hearing a lot of stories like this…something about just being given permission to ask has unlocked a lot of fear for people. That makes me incredibly happy. Sometimes words are magic.
AMBY: Which three songs of yours are the quintessential Amanda Palmer?
AP: I’d say: Coin-Operated Boy, The Bed Song, Ukulele Anthem. If you want the full spread of emotions.
AMBY: What’s the funniest thing to happen to you while on tour?
AP: Oh god, where do I start? I was in Australia last year and a fan ran up to me when I was singing openly in the balcony and attached herself to my neck with her mouth and wouldn’t let go. Eventually security came and helped me out. I had a purple hickey for a week and a half. That was pretty funny.
AMBY: What’s your favourite release of the year so far?
AP: Peter Jefferies, one of my heroes, just re-released “the last great challenge in a dull world”. Everybody should hear that.
AMBY: We know you’re a “performer, writer, giver, taker, yeller, listener, love-lover, rule-hater, ukulele-freak, and piano-slayer”, but what’s something about Amanda Palmer that nobody knows yet?
AP: Hmmmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
I have almost nothing for you. Nobody knows yet that I ate a chocolate brioche for breakfast. Except the person who gave it to me.
Thank you Amanda Palmer, for giving us your answers!
Katrin Kugler & Alicia Atout