Unapologetically bold musician, dancer, poet, performer, and actress Amanda Palmer is known for exploring radical vulnerability and social justice in songs like “Judy Blume” and “Strength Through Music.” However, every highlighted career has its moments, as Palmer has also faced controversy in her creative ventures. This Sunday, Showbox welcomes Palmer for An Evening with Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley. In a recent e-mail interview to advance the show, Palmer discussed her next moves...
You mentioned that your current shows are laying the foundation for your 2019 tour. What are some of the elements, stories, themes, etc., that you are looking to incorporate? What does this process of preparation and execution look like for you?
As strange as it sounds, given that I’ve been a “solo” artist outside of the Dresden Dolls for over 10 years now, I’ve never done a purely solo tour. I’ve always done my global tours accompanied by a band or a troupe of performance art weirdos or a string section. I think I’m ready to finally just take the stage by myself: a piano and ukulele and the stories of my life. The last six years have been a motherfucker: abortions, miscarriages, deaths of best friends, childbirth. All the songwriting that I’ve done has been intensely personal, and doesn’t want or need a band for this next incarnation, it’s just too bare and raw. So these four shows I’m doing in the Pacific Northwest are like a little testing ground to see how it feels to finally string all of these songs together before I go into the studio in the fall to record them for the album that I’ll be touring on in 2019.
You'll be appearing with Jason Webley in Seattle this Sunday. How has your relationship with Jason in the arts and as performers changed over time since your first meeting while street performing in Australia nearly 20 years ago, and discovering your mutual love of “weird theatre”? What is it like to be with him on stage? Are there still challenges that come up, even after working for so long together?
Jason is one of my very dearest friends. We’re theater-punks of the same vintage, we grew up with strangely parallel lives and I think the universe really carefully orchestrated our meeting. We understand one another, as performers, as writers, as people, in a way that’s actually very rare, and the more life I live, the less I take that kinship for granted. Being on stage with him feels incredibly comforting. The same thing that drove me to always tour with friends is still in my DNA—I don’t like being alone, I like my art family around me. And Jason is like a brother as far as that’s concerned. To the point where these shows were almost just an excuse to hang out with and spend time catching up with Jason (who’s also the godfather of my son) more than they were a strategic booking move.
You hinted at your new theatre project on your blog last month. What are you exploring in this work? This project is also mostly supported by your Patreon patrons. How does that influence your intention and process with this work?
It’s very exciting; Jason and I are co-writing an original musical for the Public Theater in New York City. They’re an epic theater, they’ve supported the development of hundreds of shows from A Chorus Line to Hamiliton, and they really support our mission to make weird, immersive and emotional theater. The project itself isn’t being paid for by my Patreon, but indirectly, the fact that I can upload demos and charge my fans for my monthly salary is what make sit possible for me to do low-profit but important projects like this.
Oh, the Patreon is just phenomenal. I had no idea how inspirational it would be to re-group my community under one umbrella and go back to the kind of internet where everybody is supportive and intelligent and kind. These people are my true tribe, and it’s a profound feeling to surf along their funding. I never feel owned, I feel supported in my cliff-jumps into the art abyss: like 11,000 people really have my artistic back and will follow me into the woods, no matter how dark it gets. I also hadn’t really realized how pre-occupied and sort of poisoned I’d become with the constant, nagging question of “how am I going to sell this thing I’ve made??” I literally don’t have to think about that anymore, at least not as the first concern. Now the first concern is: what do I want to make? It’s liberating as hell.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Well, I know that this fall, I’m going to be recording my first real record in about six years, and then I’m going to need to hop back onto the tour and promo machine, and that’s the first time I’ve really tackled that re-entry since having a baby. But that’s an exciting challenge, and it’s hopefully going to work out quite well since Neil (Gaiman) is taking a non-travel year next year to tackle his new novel. This was more my year to not tour, and we’re sort of taking turns.
How can Seattle prepare itself for you?
Please come to the show dressed in your finest, it always delights me to see everyone so spiffied up! Also, joining my Patreon before the show will get you little gifts in the merch line, so you should do that. Plus you never know what kind of madness I’m going to send out to the patrons…a few hours ago I arranged a meet-up with my portland patrons at my favorite strip club, and 60 people have RSVP’d already. We may have to beat that…Space Needle party?