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Amanda Palmer on her adventurous, fear-provoking new record

Whether you love or hate her, you can’t deny that Amanda Palmer creates art with her heart on her sleeve. 

The American singer has never shied away from provocative material, broaching taboo topics with a wicked sense of humour, while also tackling the darker sides of life. 

Now, seven years since her last studio album, Palmer has written and recorded a brand-new offering, that goes deeper into the void than she’s ever ventured before. There Will Be No Intermission is a mammoth body of work, comprised of ten vocal tracks, with an instrumental break in between. It chronicles the tumultuous experiences Palmer has faced since we last heard from her musically, including accounts of abortion, miscarriage, the death of a dear friend, and becoming a mother. 

It’s an incredibly honest record, even for someone as brazen as Palmer, and with the release date around the corner, she admits that the fear is starting to creep in.

“I’m really excited and a little bit scared,” she admits with a laugh. “But that’s what makes it vulnerable; it’s fucking scary, and if it isn’t scary, it isn’t legit.” 

Palmer has been a fixture in the music world for a long time now, having performed as part of The Dresden Dolls back when she was a teenager, before going on to pursue work as a soloist. Her evolution as a creative has been part of growing up and becoming more worn and weathered to the world of performing, but it was the leap she made to crowd-funding for her records that really sparked a change in her work. 

“When I started using patronage about three years ago after I had success with Kickstarter and I went over to Patreon, it literally changed the way I wrote songs,” she says. 

“All of a sudden I was pre-paid to write about anything I wanted with no boundaries, no time limits, no concerns about whether albums would sell or whether radio would play it. I just had an audience of human beings saying ‘we want to hear what you want to make, what do you want to make? What do you want to say?’. As soon as I was given that permission, I just collapsed into honesty.” 

Being afforded honesty is a double-edged sword though, and Palmer is the first to admit that separating her raw, emotional lyricism from her professional persona was a skill she had to learn. 

“One of the hardest things about being an artist making really personal, emotional work is that you have to literally be wearing two hats at the same time that don’t really fit together,” she explains. “It’s a really strange combination of jobs, to be thinking about expression and presentation simultaneously.

“The longer I’ve done this job, the better I’ve gotten at holding that paradox in my head. I can now sit around with my team and look at the single for my song about abortion and have a great laugh about it.

“I’m really able to stand strongly to the side in the art department and put on ‘Amanda Palmer public relations person’ and talk about myself in the third person in a way that just gets the job done. I’ve got to say, as a woman making personal art, that’s one of the hardest hurdles to jump.”

That’s not to say that making the record wasn’t emotionally gruelling though, forcing Palmer to process and explore the darker times in her life. But doing so through song has given her a sense of catharsis, in a way that only music can. 

“I think art and what art makes possible for our collective experience as a bunch of human beings is such a high level, unlockable mystery, and I’m happy to be lost in that mystery all the time,” she ponders.  

“But I do know that writing songs about grief, and writing a song about miscarriage, writing a song about abortion, does something and connects with people in a way that writing something on Twitter or making a documentary film or writing an academic essay does not.” 

There Will Be No Intermission is out Friday March 8 through Cooking Vinyl.