An interview with Amanda Palmer


If you want brechtian punk cabaret then look no further than the Dresden Dolls, fronted by the provocative and iconic Amanda Palmer. Jillian interviews her about busking as a living statue, the progression of her work and whether or not the women of today should chill out and drink more water.

Formed in 2000, The Dresden Dolls became a staple for anyone looking for a unique style of alternative rock music. Described as “Brechtian punk cabaret”, their music combines energetic piano-playing, punk elements and interesting lyrics. They’ve brought out 3 full-length albums, A Is For Accident (2003), The Dresden Dolls (2006) and Yes, Virginia… (2006). Frontwoman Amanda Palmer took some time out of her busy schedule to do an interview with JPJ. She’s currently working on her solo album (titled Who Killed Amanda Palmer, to be released in Spring 2008).

You’re working on your solo album. How does it compare with music you’ve made with Brian?

Well, since Ben Folds produced the majority of the songs, they bear his stamp. The songs themselves aren’t a huge departure from my songwriting style. They’ve matured a bit, maybe. Ben and I specifically wanted to stray from drums for the record but we did end up using a lot of percussion. It ain’t a quiet record, that’s for sure. It be loud.

How do you think the music of The Dresden Dolls has evolved since the first album?

Well, the music has a few different ingredients. There’s my songwriting. Then there’s our playing and chemistry. Brian and I have always had great musical intuition with one another and that’s just been sharpened over the years. My songwriting has become more sensitive to the idea of playing live and presenting this music directly to people from stage. My old songs (especially the first record) were written in a vacuum, since I had no idea how they would ever get out of my room and into the world. There’s no going back to that.

How was your experience creating ‘The Onion Cellar’?

Incredibly difficult. I had major creative differences with the director and so the project ended up being much more of a learning experience than a fulfilling theatrical experience. I had a real conception of how I wanted the piece to grow and it went in a totally opposite direction, out of my control. That said, it’s inspired me to work more closely with people on my wavelength in the future.

How did you become involved with busking, particularly as a living statue?

Just saw it, got up, did it. Seriously. It was as simple as that. I didn’t want a normal job and I saw a bunch of street performers in Europe and thought: I could do that, easy. I’ve infected a few of my friends over the years. It’s the ultimate freedom, a wonderful job and I miss it.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with young women of the world?

Take care of yourself. Do Yoga. Floss. Eat well. Drink water. Don’t watch TV. And don’t compare yourself to the chick next door. She’s just as freaked out as you are.