By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com April 27 2009 12:00 AM ET
Advocate.com:Are your performances usually so interactive?
Oh yeah. Festivals are a little weird because it's not my
fan base, so I don't know if they're gonna actually bring it,
but they were goodâ€¦ There was enough of them out there who were
Do you like playing festivals?
They can be more fun if you're in the right mood and have the
right energy. It's probably the same way for the fans and
the press -- it's like, if you're a little worn down and
you just need to focus, it's a terrible place to be. But if
you're full of energy and you get the right slot and the right
crowd, then it can be explosive and it can be better than a
headlining show. But usually I feel festivals are commercials
for yourself. You kind of go out there and go,
This is what I do
If you like it, come and see a real show.
But there's also something about the festival vibe, especially
in Europe, where people are just committed to being insane. You
don't really feel that at Coachella -- it's a much more sedated
crowd, but it's cool, and the way the festival is run is
way more civilized. This is pretty clean, and they take pretty
good care of their artists. They know what they're doing.
Is it more freeing to be a solo artist, or is it just
Both. It's way more freeing, but that's obvious. It's
like I can do whatever I want, I'm not part of a democracy, I'm
a one-woman dictatorship. I miss Brian. And
there's a very concrete negative part of being solo --
especially in a festival where you're competing with sound.
Drums are very useful, because they drown a lot of things out.
So sometimes I miss the power, especially the loudness of the
drums. When I'm totally solo I miss having an ally on stage,
and it's part of the reason I love touring with [cello
player] Zoe or other musicians -- it's like,
there's a loop that happens when you have more than one
musician onstage. It turns more into a conversation,
which I like.
What are you listening to these days?
You know, I don't listen to much music. And I was really guilty
and ashamed about that for a while, and I just started
admitting that to people. I've turned kind of back into a
7-year-old, where I find a record that I really like and I just
kind of listen to that for four or five months. But if you took
a look at my life, when would I listen to music? I'm always
either in transit or on the phone, or at a show or backstage.
It's like, I don't have the life for it. I also find myself
liking less and less music, but I think that's all just because
I'm getting sensitive to it, and I love listening to my old
records. I kind of feel like an asshole for saying it, but
it's just so true.
And music, when it
becomes work; you know when you get handed 15 CDs a day being
told, "Listen to this," and then there's a stack of
music like nine miles high and the minute I have that moment,
all I really want is silence, and I take that silence for
myself. So I just stopped feeling guilty about it. But that
being said, I really love Tegan and Sara's record [
]. I heard that and I didn't expect to like it 'cause I
thought it was going be sort of lesbian folk music, and I put
it on and was like, "ohhh, ohhhh!" They're making
good music, with fucking lyrics I love, and production. So I
just sort of publicize them to everyone I know. And I felt the
same way when I heard St. Vincent's record. I was like, S
omething to be excited about
Are there other things you're inspired by?
People. The good ones. I've realized that at the end of the day
the key is to keep good company and work with the right people
and to make no compromises with that, and not be like,
"Well, the person's kind of an asshole,
butâ€¦" I just don't do that anymore. Fuck anyone who's bad;
start running in the other direction. I only recently started
doing that. And really only began measuring things, and what I
do and where I go, and who I spend my time with. Everything
else has sort of locked into place since I've decided to do
that. I love every moment of my life now because I don't spend
any of it around the wrong people.
Your fans have a really personal relationship with you. What
kind of kinship do you feel for them?
Über-kinship. I get really bugged out when I meet
bands who don't like their fans. And they don't want
to go out and meet them and get to know them. And I'm
like wow, "But you live with them. You play for them. You
are there in a room with them. If you don't like them, how
miserable must your life be." In general, they're awesome
people, and I feel really taken care of by them. And every one
of them I look at, I feel grateful towards because they're
making it possible for me to do everything. In the direct and
indirect sense, this last tour I did was basically fan-run.
They housed us, they fed us. They bought the tickets, they
bought the shirts. I almost had no promo support from my label,
and I just went out and did it. And I was like,
I'm gonna fall, and you gotta catch me.
And they have your back.
Tell me about your upcoming photo book,
Who Killed Amanda Palmer?
The book is going on sale [last Sunday]. A lot like
the record, it grew out from nothing. It started out as an
overflow of album artwork and no packaging budget. And then it
turned into a giant book with dozens of photographers, and I
got Neil Gaiman [author of
] involved, and I asked him to write some text. And he
met me and spent a week at my house, and we just had fun with
it. We got a photographer and took photos. It was a total art
fantasy that you would dream about. We were just having so much
fun with each other. And we sort of fell in love in a crazy
art-life way. We realized we had so much in common having
worked on that project, and we stayed in touch and now we're