How the fuck do you describe Amanda Palmer? She’s like if the coolest goth girl at your secondary school became a world-famous musician, while still remaining down-to-earth enough to turn up at your door at 1am because she missed the last train and needs to sleep on your couch. You’d let her in, and in the morning you’d find a cabaret band in your living room and you wouldn’t even mind because someone would hand you a ukulele and a piece of cake. You’d think, “If only I could be this cool,” and she’s turn to you and say something like, “You already are,” and you’d all cry. Or maybe it wouldn’t happen like that at all, but you’d see her walking down the road and make eye contact and just feel… seen.
As a supporter of Amanda on Patreon (www.patreon.com/amandapalmer) you receive these blog posts that read like the frantic diary of a teenage girl, full of rambling stories and shout-outs to performers she likes. She reminds me of the first friend who ever tried to put eyeliner on me and poked me in the eye. Earnest, confident, and just a little bit… maladroit.
She’ll be performing four shows at The Queen’s Hall starting this Thursday (August 9), but already has a ‘ninja’ gig organised for tonight. Because of course she does. Details below, or follow her on Twitter @amandapalmer.
So these four shows are a chance for you to test out some material for your new album, due out next year. Is that right?
That is right!
Can you tell us more about this upcoming album? For instance with it be ukulele or piano focused, will you be collaborating with other musicians, am I going to cry when I listen to it?
I will give it to you straight, darling. You will cry. If you are a crier, you will definitely cry. If you’re not a crier, there is still a good chance you will cry. This is hands down the saddest and most tear-jerky album I have ever made. The main architecture of the album is going to be piano and ukulele, but I’m going to hang some sparse decorations on the sonic walls. I’m working with my favorite producer, John Congleton (he did my last album, Theatre is Evil) and we are just going to hole up at a studio in Los Angeles for about three weeks and figure it out like a giant mural. Is that too many metaphors?
You hinted that you might cover a Dillie Keane song on the new album. What’s prompted you to do this? Are you hoping to bring her work to a wider audience?
I wish it was that magnanimous. It’s far more selfish than that. One of her songs is one that I’ve been covering for a long time and it just “fits” in this record. And the fact that she’s a lesser known (for shame, she’s brilliant) songwriter just makes the prospect more alluring than if the song were by Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco or Joni Mitchell, or some larger entity.
You’ve mentioned that you’re hoping to include some songs about abortion in your show and on the new album. What’s prompted you to make this decision now, and are you nervous?
Nothing makes me nervous anymore. That’s part of why I’m doing it. Having three abortions and going through a natural birth with no drugs and then having a miscarriage alone in a hotel room – at three months – has left me with no fear and only a lingering sense of responsibility. What’s happening in my country right now…it feels like a war. And I often look around and feel like the sharpest tool in our arsenal – to fight the hatred, to fight the sexism, racism and division that is tearing us apart – is the power of women’s honest sharing of their experiences, against all normal-cultural narrative. Our true stories, without the filler and gaze of the men who are supposed to approve, applaud or disavow them. This is what’s going to change and save the world.
What are you excited about seeing at the Fringe this year?
So many things! I’m looking forward to seeing Home, which came with the highest recommendations from my friends in New York. And of course I’m going to go see my housemate, Lady Rizo. And I’m really excited to see the Pianodrome. And Pussy Riot – I cannot wait to see what they’re doing.
You’ve described the Edinburgh Fringe as one of your happy places, in what way?
My ideal fantasy is a place where art trumps all. This is the closest I get.
I love the Forest Cafe (I’ve had a solo art exhibition there) and I hear you’ve done some ‘ninja’ shows there. What do you love about it and how do you feel about the venue change from Bistro Street to Lauriston Place?
I am always sad about change, especially when I’ve gotten nostalgically attached to a place. But change happens. I’ll be heading over there for falafel and coffee pronto.
Is there anything else you’d like to mention? A plug for a friend’s show, or a heads up for those seeing your show?
If you manage to get this out before tonight (Tuesday! August 7) I’m doing a free ninja show at The Caves at 11 pm. I’m also gong to do another (free!) last-minute variety/ninja-gig tomorrow (Wednesday, August 8) at midnight at Bannerman’s – tons of friends colliding. Tell people to come!
Words: Ana Hine
The Queen’s Hall, 85-89 Clerk Street, EH8 9JG
Aug 9-10, 17-18, 19:00, £26.50