Amanda Palmer – Interview

It’s Friday the 31st of January. I’m sitting in The Market Shed at 1 FOX Street in Johannesburg staring blankly through my drink trying to calm my nerves. In just a few hours I’ll be meeting Amanda Palmer, singer, writer and artist. Suddenly my phone rings and through a cracking line I hear “Hi this is Amanda Palmer.” Being the Cynic I am, my immediate reply is “Very funny… who is this?“ Much to my disbelief she assures me it’s really her and invites me to join her in sound check before we start the interview.

amanda palmer

She rushes through her set and calls me over, placing a Tasty Bubble Tea in my hand. We move up the stairs into the walk-in fridge or as Amanda likes to call it, the ‘drink purgatory of The Sheds.’ She grabs a seat as I start shooting questions:

Me: You know we could just go nuts and break into the booze section? You are Amanda Fucking Palmer so no one would give you any trouble.

Amanda: I am not drinking for the whole of January.

Me: How has the experience in South Africa been so far? Are we atleast treating you well?

Amanda: You are treating me like a Queen and I loooove it.

Me: I hear you’re a big Die Antwoord fan?

Amanda: I am. I think they are great. I have been noticing lately how much people hate them. I just love their degree of weirdness and total unapologetic-ness.

Me: Would you be open for a collab with them?

Amanda: TOTALLY!

Me: How was the house party in Pretoria, and is it true we party harder than Jo-burgers?

Amanda: Amazing! House parties are weird though. Not just in Pretoria but in general. It doesn’t necessarily give you the impression of that city. It gives you an impression of those 50 people. I had a wonderful time! Everyone was really sweet. I got some gifts, including Amarula that I will be testing out tonight.

Me: Any other local act you have picked up during your trip?

Amanda: I have been digging The Brother Moves On. They are incredible. Someone sent me a clip of them playing for like 20 minutes.

Me: Have you had some time to check out the nightlife here in Joburg?

Amanda: No but I did go to an incredible play last night. I went to epicene butcher doing this pop art thing here in Maboneng. It’s all based on drawings sliding into this wooden box. It was really funny and really dark. I found myself very sad that Neil (Amanda’s husband) wasn’t with me cause he would have fucking loved it.

Lara, Cunha Amanda’s South African photographer, unfortunately informs us it’s time for them to go. Amanda greets me with a big smile and tells me she’ll see me tonight in the crowd.

The sheds slowly starts filling up with hordes of people, most with a Ukulele in the hand hoping to get it signed by Amanda. Just as the show start the 1000 people cut off point is met. Before any sign of Amanda is seen a multi-coloured dragons parades its way through the crowd. It’s followed by large carnival characters roaming the crowd and posing for photos.

amanda palmer

Suddenly from on top of the bar Amanda appears with a ukulele in the hand singing Radiohead’s “Creep.” She makes her way to the stage and starts to take requests from the crowd. Playing hits like Map of Tasmania, Killing type, Half Jack, Miss me, In My Mind, and Runs in the Family.

Between belting out notes she switches between ukulele and keyboard with some banter to the audiences. Half-way through the set Amanda stops and applauds the Joburg crowd on their sheer comradery in their hate for the Mother city.

Close to the end of the set she asks the crowd for some silence she softly starts to play the intro to Bed Song. She tenderly lets the few first words slip from her mouth and instantly silences the mass. Half the crowd is in tears, myself included. Amanda wraps up the set vowing to make a trip back to South Africa in the close future.

The show was really one of my favourite live performances. Her technique of drawing in the crowd in with her diverse voice is truly unbelievable. There is no doubt in my mind I’ll be right in front at her next show in South Africa…

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