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Interview: Amanda Palmer

By DANIEL BROCKMAN  |  September 25, 2008

Yeah, well, it seems like it's especially true of artists that develop a defined aesthetic.
Yeah, and that aesthetic can trap you. It can trap you as an artist and as a person. One of the things that is really scary is that you harbor this concern that if there is no drama in your life, you're not going to have a resource to pull from, because you start noticing that the best songs you write are when you're heartbroken, and you're frustrated, and you're pissed off. And so you are a little more willing to live closer to the edge of drama because it's seems more interesting. But I think that, at least as I go along, I realize that there's always going to be drama that you can just pull out and grab. You don't have to live it, you don't have to suffer for your art — you have to suffer anyway! Life is full of suffering no matter which way you cut it, you don't have to go and create it. I think a lot of teenagers do that, I think that's also — when I was a teenager, writing a lot of stuff on the early Dolls records, I think that's why it connected with so many teenagers, because you definitely do that. Especially as an artistic teenager, you're convinced that you've got to be this tortured soul, and you've got to be full of drama and angst, and everyone will think you're this interesting person. And if you don't have drama going on in your life, that everyone will think that you're this uninteresting person sitting in the corner that no one will take an interest in. And some people never grow out of it, and some people are so, like — it's doesn't matter if they are artistic or not. People who are filled with drama are just filled with drama, they're just attached to that for whatever reason. And I think a lot of the time it is because they think that if they're not doing that whole "Aaiiggh my life is so fucked up" thing, talking to their co-workers and their families, then maybe they won't be interesting and and people won't want to listen to then and they need to skew that way in order to be heard. A lot of that has to do with where they came from, maybe not being heard as a kid. It's interesting.

Do you feel like, on the cusp of this solo album, you can kind of look back on the Dresden Dolls as something you did as a teenager onward for all these years, and just go "Huh, look at that"?
Yeah, like "That's what that was!" You know what's interesting is that I think there are two — no wait, three stories to the Dresden Dolls: there is what happened with our fans and our community and our life; there's the story of me and Brian and our relationship, which is a different story; and then there's an entirely separate story apart from that with the public's perception of what the Dresden Dolls is as an idea. And those three stories are really different — I mean, they're intertwined but they followed separate trajectories. And one thing that is constantly challenging for me is trying to, umm, what's the word I'm looking for, sort of negotiate the difference between the Dresden Dolls as it's own entity and how the fans and the bands interacted, and what we did, and what happened with how the outside mainstream media considers the story to be, which is really uninformed and weird. So, I'm constantly getting feedback from the inside going, "Oh, obviously we did this and this and this," and I'll read press like some random magazine from London and it's like, "Oh, that's what people thought we did. That's not right, that's so strange!" So negotiating those things is really weird. And especially with my new record coming out, a lot of those things are getting dredged up, everyone's obviously comparing what I'm doing to the Dolls.

Well, I think with the Dresden Dolls if you consider your self-created categorization as "Brechtian cabaret punk," the Brechtian part implies a breaking down of the wall between artist and audience.

So now that you're putting out a solo album, there's this audience that was a part of The Thing, and they are probably wondering if that's still true, or what their role is now that things have changed.
One of the wonderful things about having such a loyal fan base and a really intelligent one at that, who want to stay involved, is that they just come along. Most of them are really interested to see what i'm doing and they're really willing to give it a shot.

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