Does Amanda Palmer have all the answers?
Amanda Palmer, fresh from her run-in with the Daily Mail, plays Dublin's Academy tonight. The feminist musician has become an oracle for a frantic music business treasure-hunting for answers. The street performer turned-Dresden Doll-turned-solo act-turned-Kickstarter million dollar fundraiser-turned TED talk sensation talks about her DIY philosophy with Una Mullally
“And I think that’s a lot of the reason people are pissed off with me. It’s so difficult to carry the entire burden of your business and your artistry, and when people wave the flag ‘Amanda Palmer has it all figured out! She’s a social networking genius!’, it’s really a red herring. Because it works for me, but it works for me because I’m fucking weird. I like spending so much time online. I love the constant personal connections I make. And I love wearing my heart on my sleeve. But that’s me and doesn’t necessarily apply to every artist.
“One has to be really careful not to make general off-the-shelf blanket rules about what works for an artist. The thing that makes you a fucking artist is that you’re absolutely unique. We’re looking at all these new tools and people are trying to find out what the solution is. Kickstarter? Spotify? There is no answer. Every artist has to forge their own tasks in this giant messy stew that nobody can define.”
She expands on the theme, referencing a Jonathan Safran Foer university commencement speech where he mused deeply about the impact of the internet on the very experience of being human.
Dear Daily Mail
“I’m in a café right now and there are two couples sitting at tables both at their iPhones. Am I grouchy old person – ‘back in the day, we all used to sit around and talk’? But I worry that what we’re chasing is elusive. In our race for connections we’re not dealing with real life, which is actually what we’re chasing when we comment on Facebook, and answer every text. When you’re finding it easier to text instead of call because you don’t have to deal with the messiness of being a human being, that’s fucked up.
“The only solution is to be aware of it, and not fear checking in with a person, and having a meal without phones, remembering the pot of gold at the end of this elusive rainbow of connections has to be the moment the cloud of internet vanishes and you can look in someone’s eyes and hold their hands and get the actual goods.” Her articulate monologue about one of the seething questions of our time – the impact of technology on human emotion – makes you want that book to hurry up.
At Palmer’s South by Southwest panel in March, numbers of Twitter followers, Kickstarter delivery costs (Palmer raised over one million dollars to finance a new album last year on Kickstarter, yet also spent a chunk of change fulfilling the reward incentives promised to fans), Palmer as a “cottage industry”, and her DIY ethic were all explored and dissected.
It was fascinating, yet the most captivating segment was when she rose to play The Ukulele Anthem. “See what happens when you muzzle a person’s creativity?” she sang, “ and do not let them sing and scream?”