From years as a statuesque street performer handing flowers to passers by, to marrying famed author Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer’s life has been almost as unconventional as her musical career. The latter, traversing theatrical duo The Dresden Dolls and finding TED talk fame in talking about how she connects with audiences, has ultimately thrived on swimming upstream.
For the last few years, Palmer’s solo work has taken some unconventional roads. She’s been accompanied on tour by an ever changing cast of local musicians who she brings on stage for impromptu jams, replacing her backing band night after night. She plays guerilla gigs in parks and at roadsides for fans who can’t afford tickets, or simply want to see her twice.
She’s spoken openly about empathy, and about her trio of abortions, then later explored the complexities of parenthood and raised money through a committed team of 15,000 personal backers. Being away from a label, she’s found, is a real route to independence and personal control.
“I’m really good at forgiving myself, which is the theme of the show,” she says of her current record. “I’ve been touring for so long that I’ve found an approach to stage work that involves never being bored. If you’re going to do this job for decades, you’ve got to figure out a way to love getting on stage every night, or you just won’t last. Or become really grumpy. I like it too much to ever want to feel like I’m just closing my eyes and doing a routine.”
“Some things haven’t changed since the early days of The Dresden Dolls. My connection with the actual human beings who come to see me is a massive ingredient in my ability to get up there every night and tear my heart out of my chest,” she says of her deeply personal new album, ‘There Will Be No Intermission’. “I wouldn’t want to do it alone.”
“I know there’s a real element of catharsis in it, not just for me, but for everyone who’s watching. The crowdfunding has really changed things. This kind of thing is actually really hard to describe to people, because I think people think about crowdfunding, Kickstarter, Patreon, they think about the financial side of it all.”