How would you best describe yourself and your music?
I try very hard never to ‘describe’ myself to people, certainly not in the media anyway. If I did that I’d be putting journalists like you out of a job.
What’s the experience of touring with the Grand Theft Orchestra been like?
It’s been the best part of two years of my life touring and playing with the same people. It’s been good, being in a band can be very enjoyable. I feel that I’m ready to go back to being solo for awhile now, until I start getting lonely and want to be back in a band again.
You used Kickstart to crowd fund your last album – would you do that again for your next album?
It’s very imporrtant to stress that while it raised over a million dollars that wasn’t aimed at profit, which was something people didn’t really get. It was a lot of work to deliver it and get it out, but it was very enjoyable. The easiest way to explain it to people was that it was basically a giant album pre order, they were paying for it well in advance of it arriving at their doorstep.
You were criticised for getting local musicians to play for free on the subsequent tour. What did you learn from that?
I think I learnt a bunch of things. I learnt how to stay off the internet when I actually just needed to focus on the art and the touring itself. The internet can suck you into having unwinnable arguments with unreasonable people. That episode drew my community even closer together.
You also released a live album with your husband – writer Neil Gaiman – was it hard getting him to sing?
No, not really. He’s something of a performer at heart, he played in a punk band in his youth, before he started writing. He also sings in the shower and the car, so no it wasn’t hard at all.
You seem to have a real affinity with Australia. Why is that?
I really like the people. I like how no bullshit and down to earth the people in Australia are, especially the women. Some of the funniest and greatest women I’ve made friends with are Australian. I just like the general vibe of the whole place, I guess, I’ve been trying to figure that out for years. Doesn’t hurt that it’s warm there.
You were only here in September, weren’t you?
Yeah, I was doing a keynote speech at the BigSound conference in Brisbane, as well as touring my last album. The BigSound thing was interesting, because I was sort of being interviewed by a journalist in front of a crowd. I never really know what people want from me when it comes to those sort of things, but it seemed to go pretty well.
People see you as a role model when it comes to certain issues. Do you see yourself that way?
No, I don’t. I don’t think anybody should think of themselves as a ‘role model’ because then that would make them an arsehole. It’s all well and good for people to think of me that way, but I’d never think of myself that way.
What can audiences expect from your run of Sydney Festival shows?
There isn’t going to be a backing band so much but there are going to special guests every night and I’m going to rotate them so that no two show is going to be the same. I’m doing that in part to keep myself from getting bored but also to reward the fans that I know have got multiple tickets for some different nights.
You going to have any down time here?
Hopefully a little bit [of down time] but I’m also going to simultaneously be slaving away on a book that I’m currently writing. The book’s deadline is in March, so I imagine a lot of my spare time is going to involve me sitting at a quiet cafe somewhere near the Spiegeltent and writing. It’s going to be a work of non fiction about some of the stuff that we’ve been discussing; art, new systems of trust that artists find with fans.
What does next year holds for you?
Well quite a lot of writing with the book and then working on a new piece of live theatre that i’ve been dreaming about doing for a long time and now have finally found a bit of time to do it.
Amanda Palmer will be playing ten shows; Jan 9 – 19 at the Sydney Festival Spiegeltent. info sydneyfestival.org.au