to Amanda Palmer
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Dresden Dolls' Amanda Palmer Talks Tech, Teens,
by Leila Brillson — Jun 19th 2009 at 10:01AM
Amanda Palmer -- half of
the virulently successful Dresden Dolls, equal parts blogger, YouTube-fanatic,
and Twitter-community-organizer, and altogether musician extraordinaire
-- allowed Switched to pick her brain on technology, music, and Tweeting
on Friday nights.
Palmer, who is most famous
for playing the piano (punk-cabaret style), has a rabid Twitter fan
base, pens an exhaustive blog, and uses her Internet savvy to auction
her sixth-grade breakup letters online. Aside from using interconnectivity
to the fullest, she recently returned to her old high school, Lexington
High in Boston, to collaborate with a former teacher and direct a student-filled
play. The performance was based on Neutral Milk Hotel's baroque indie-rock
album 'In the Aeroplane Over the Sea' -- an album she feels so strongly
about, she jokingly asked a student unfamiliar with the record, "You
must have it on that vast iPod of yours."
She doesn't like iPods, but
she does read a lot. In fact, she just completed a work of her own,
a photo diary entitled 'Who Killed Amanda Palmer,' in conjunction with
comic book author Neil Gaiman and photographer Kyle Cassidy & Co.
We've transcribed some of the interview's highlights, but are also hosting
the 45-minute interview in its entirety. Palmer addresses her love for
Avril Lavigne, the curse of the working musician, and why she can't
listen to music anymore.
On why kids need to be bored:
"I don't want to sound like a luddite old-fart, [but] I kind of
worry about the 'digital generation.' Kids today don't have the freedom
to be bored. There is something really important about boredom, and
how you choose to fill it. If I had had the Internet at age 14 or 15
and had been able to expose myself and connect with people that way,
I don't know if I would have gone and messed around with the piano.
Kids can definitely use the Internet creatively, but I think that there
is something important about incubating on your own. I think boredom,
space, time, and development need 'unconnectedness.' These kids are
so connected, and they are never bored, because they don't need to be.
I think that's dangerous. I think boredom is important."
How the Internet changed
the way we listen:
"The role of music has changed so much, it's now on its head. Music,
functionally, used to be about the same stuff over and over. The songs
everybody knew and shared: this was the song for this occasion. It definitely
was not about generating new music all the time -- and I'm talking way
back in the day. There is something really important about familiar
music. The way a lot of people look at music now is, "Well, I love
that last week, but what is happening this week?" Fans might listen
to a record once, decide they kind of like it, but it's in their iTunes
with 30,000 other records, and they might not give it the time and repeated
listening they would have given it 15 years ago, if they were a teenager
on a limited budget and could only buy one CD that week, and that was
the one they decided to buy."
On her fear of gear:
"I'm not so much of a gear person, which is interesting, because
I could have been. When I was in high school I bought a Korg M1, a Fostex
four-track, and an effects processor, and started four-tracking my own
songs. My first tape was all me. Some of the music was sequenced with
synths and a drum machine, and I had a Mac and I was starting to learn
a very primitive form of ProTools called MasterFXPro. I was just learning
the basics. I could play my Korg into the computer, quantize it, sequence
it, lay tracks on top of it, four-track vocals on top of it. And then
one day I decided to stop, because I had this fear that I was only going
to have time to either be really good at the gear stuff or be a good
songwriter. I feared I wasn't going to be able to do both."
On 'Losers On Friday Night
At Home On The Computer' (her Twitter club):
"Loff-Nazi [how she pronounces it]! We just sold our 400th t-shirt!
I made this joke, calling to order all of the losers at home on Friday
night on their computers. Someone created a hash-tag and one thing led
to another, and suddenly there were thousands of people joining in on
the party. We made t-shirts in real time and sold them, and I made more
money on those t-shirts than I've made on record royalties in the last
three years! That's the ultimate metaphor for how things are structured
nowadays. I'm completely pro-Twitter. Can't you tell?"
Why she doesn't like iPods:
"I see all these people wearing iPods and I just don't relate.
What I love is the silence and reading a book. To me, that's the equivalent
of relaxing. Putting on an iPod means my brain is working... when I
come back from tour, I usually won't put music on for two or three days
at all. When I start feeling normal again, I put on the same Cathode
CD that I've heard probably six or seven hundred times. I know every
note of it, and it's all my brain can handle. It's either that, or the
Bach Cello Suites."