With her love of all things from the past, and her embracing of technology (blogs and Twitter) she is, as she sang on the first Dresden Dolls album, the Girl Anachronism. She has branched out on her own with her solo record Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, and has met her match in author (and soon to be Mr Palmer) Neil Gaiman. Now the brunette bombshell is in Australia, where she has already engaged in some impromptu yoga sessions and “ninja gigs” and marched alongside Angie Hart and Missy Higgins in the Melbourne street rally to protect live music. Here for live shows until mid-March, her next project will be to release the concept record Evelyn Evelyn, made with her musical soul mate Jason Webley, about a pair of conjoined twins. Their intriguing back story stirred up a storm of controversy. The Amanda Palmer adventure continues. She spoke to Sally Browne.
Where are you right now and what’s the vibe like?
I’m in Melbourne right now and it’s beautiful. I’m lucky enough to be staying with friends of my fiancé, and my fiancé has all these great book-world people all over the globe that he hooks me up with, so I wind up staying in these incredible houses. In Melbourne I’m staying with this fantastic couple who are renaissance book-world people. They happen to have a granny flat that I’ve commandeered. And it even came with a cat. I have my own cat for a week. Fantastic.
How are Neil Gaiman friends and fans different from Amanda Palmer friends and fans?
You could write a book on that, I think. Most Neil Gaiman fans are really psyched for our relationship and like me, and a lot them have checked out my music and really dug it. There’s a small faction of his fans who actively want to hate me so I’ve had to fend them off with sticks. (Laughs) But mostly it’s been a really good crossover. It is interesting, though, when you have two fan bases, it’s kind of like getting married when you’ve got two big families. You pray everybody gets along and this crazy uncle doesn’t beat up that crazy uncle and everything can stay moderately peaceful.
Did you always expect to get married someday?
No. (Laughs) Not even close. I did not.
So what happened? He transformed you? Is that possible?
He convinced me. Which I suppose you could say he transformed me. I’ve just never been in a relationship that made so much sense where I felt so comfortable. I come from a whole network of divorced parents, and I had a rule for most of my adulthood that marriage was… I wouldn’t go out of my way not to do it, but certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to do it, and my theory was if I found someone that I thought I wanted to shack up with, I would need to test it out for eight or ten years, and at that point, if I still wanted to get married I would do it.
So when did you know ‘this is the guy for me’?
That’s a good question. There certainly wasn’t some turning moment where I said, “Oh Jesus, this is it”. Our relationship grew really gradually and beautifully. It was very organic. When we first met each other we weren’t even really that attracted to each other. And I think over prolonged exposure to each other’s minds and personalities, that’s where things really started to happen and I think that’s the stuff that lasts. When you really fall in love with somebody holistically and it’s not just some really sparky, fiery passion where you see them and your jaw drops to the floor and you go, “Oh – my – god – I – have – to – have – sex – with – you – now.”
We were sort of both entangled in other relationships when we met and we weren’t really thinking in that direction. It was through working with each other and really observing the other and saying “Wow, this person totally understands where I’m coming from”, and we do, we have a really fantastic ongoing conversation with each other about just about everything. We find it really difficult to fight and argue, and when we disagree about things it can get slightly ugly, but it usually doesn’t get very ugly, and we communicate well and we just take really good care of each other. And I’ve found that really hard. My lifestyle is strange. So is his. It can be really hard to find someone to fit in with this sort of life and not feel like they’re being excluded or threatened by it. I consider myself really lucky that I found him.
Tell us about your adventures at the Golden Globes (where she was Gaiman’s date for Coraline). What was going through your mind?
I had a couple of outfit choices, so I decided to bring both. I basically kept dress No. 2 in my ukulele case, which I was toting around with me, just in case I needed it. And I was wearing this really see-through dress for the red carpet walk at the beginning. And then I swapped it out for a much more conservative black coat dress that I wore to the after party, and on the way out of that after party, Neil and I got snagged by the photographers who asked if I would put the see-through dress back on. And I obliged them, and I got changed right on the red carpet, which I thought would be funny. And so, that was my adventure at the Golden Globes.
The event itself is pretty surreal. It’s one of those worlds that you enter where you just go, “Oh my God, there’s all this stuff happening here and I have no idea who these people are and I have no idea what’s going on,” but if you’re fascinated by people in general it’s a really incredible thing to watch. The cultural anthropologist in me gets really excited when I go to things like that, and I get to be a fly on the wall.
So does Amanda Palmer ever get nervous?
Sure. I probably get nervous in different sorts of situations. I’m nervous right now, my last blog about my upcoming Evelyn Evelyn album was really incendiary and pissed a handful of people off. The record is a concept record about these conjoined twin sisters that my friend Jason Webley and I discovered on MySpace, and their record is coming out next month, and I posted a blog about some of their back story, which involved some very unsettling and dark elements. Some people found it really disturbing and really offensive, and there’s a faction of disabled people who find the fact that their conjoined and putting out this record possibly really tasteless. So I’ve been trying to come up with a way of explaining the project and explaining myself that doesn’t cause an ever greater shit storm. Things like that.
I wouldn’t say nervous is the right word, but, when I deal with things like that, it’s so important to me to let people know where I’m coming from and as my blog grows and my fame grows, and stuff like that, I get really upset at the idea that people read the wrong things into my actions. The Golden Globes I kind of had to deal with the same thing, a bunch of people coming at me with fiery pitchforks calling me an attention whore. It’s like, well, if you really knew me and you knew my career and you knew my general life philosophy and my MO, if you knew all that and you were still saying this, then my guess is you’re looking into a mirror right now. (Laughs)
I want to ask you a few random questions while I’ve got you. One of them is can you remember a recent or standout dream?
I had a dream last night that was totally bizarre. I dreamt that I wandered accidentally into a hotel room where some ancient dance legend, like Anna Pavlova, was before she died or something, she was like 80, and she was really fiery, and she was giving a private dance lesson to two young dance students, but she was giving the lesson by strapping herself to a reclined armchair wearing like a Neil Armstrong astronaut space walking suit, and she was strapped to the chair and explaining gravity to the dance students, in this really humorous way wearing this ridiculous outfit and they were just loving it. And that was my dream from this morning actually. I don’t know what happened after that.
Can you interpret it?
Probably. I think it may have something to do with the current constriction I’m having due to the Evelyn Evelyn controversy, the fact that I need to get out there and do my weightless moonwalk before I get it going again.
What’s on your bedside table?
Right now my bedside table consists of a glass of water and my iPhone and a book by Richard Dawkins that I picked up in Sydney and am currently working on. It’s a collection of modern science writing. It’s really beautiful.
Do you come down on one side of the God debate?
(Laughs) I think God is very, very relative. I think human beings talking about God is hilarious. But then again, that’s pretty much how I approach everything. I think if you look too hard for answers then you wind up wasting your life (Laughs)