Amanda Palmer lets us in on her SA tour and her new approach to music

2018-02-16 09:48
Amanda Palmer

Cape Town - It was the morning after a fun night with old friends when I sat down to interview Amanda Palmer.

It was still pretty early and because it was a Saturday, the busy street I live on was only just coming to life; with trucks idling and people running to get in line for the public pool across the way.

As I sat down, with my hot coffee, it hit me that in a moment I would be talking to one of the artists that changed my life and my way of thinking both with her book, The Art of Asking. She's also a poet, a singer and so much more. 

Amanda is here for a two-date tour that will stop in Cape Town on Saturday, 17 February and in Johannesburg on Friday, 23 February. 

In the first moments of the chat I stumbled over my words and there was a long pause as the line had a delay, but as soon as I heard her familiar voice I felt calm and listened as she told me about her first time in South Africa, a few years ago, how she changed her way of putting out music and so much more. 


“So, I felt like I was walking around Joburg with this secret foetal mystery.”

I was in Johannesburg about 3 years ago for one of my kick starter parties back in 2012. It was the very last Kickstarter party I delivered – out of all 35 I did – because it was the hardest to get to (laughs). It was wonderful, it was in Pretoria. I didn’t have a lot of time there, but I was with some friends and had a good time. I was secretly pregnant at the time I had just found out I was pregnant two or three weeks before and I hadn’t told anyone yet. So, I felt like I was walking around Joburg with this secret foetal mystery.


On why she’s back and doing shows: 

This one of those rare occasions where I didn’t put this in the schedule, but Neil did. Because Neil is in Cape Town for a month because he is shooting a TV show on which he is the writer and the show-runner. It’s been a massive process that he has been working on for three years and it’s a TV adaptation of Good Omen which he wrote with Terry Pratchett back in the old days and he needed to come to South Africa with all the Brits to shoot for a month. I have a two-year-old, so I didn’t want father and son to be separated for over a month so we both came. And I never really go anywhere without doing a show (so I’m doing some shows). 


surviving. photo by our beloved @findingcoco.

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“This is going to confuse people, but it shouldn’t”

Well, so I have been touring solo, really with just me on stage with a piano and a ukulele. I’m actually kind-of between projects right now which makes it interesting because I don’t have anything particularly to promote which is kind of odd for a giant show and an artist from far away. But I am not really doing things like that anymore my entire income is not coming from album sales – because album sales are going away anyway – but I am making my living off of my Patreon. And so, every show I do there’s a way to connect with my patrons and also try and connect with new ones. And I have been writing new material lately um (pauses) you know in my life for my life and for my patrons, using my blog as the centre.

at the labia theater in cape town, south africa. endlessly amused.

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Which is really hard to explain but it’s really simple, you know in the old days, I would spend years writing songs for the album then I would release the album and then I would spend a year or two promoting that record. And you know one day the public would get all of these songs, and I’m just not doing it that way anymore. I am releasing the music to my patrons as I write it; as I demo it and record it. I’ll probably collect it all in a giant album at some point to give the public their chance. But I am also becoming more interested in servicing the community and less interested in the main stream media outlets. And I never liked the weird superficial thing of dumping all my music on people at once. That always felt strange to me, so I really like working this way. And now wherever I go on stage in the world you’re just seeing me on stage, it’s not like this huge commercial undertaking. This is going to confuse people, but it shouldn’t confuse you if you know anything about the Grateful Dead or Bob Dylan or the way musicians used to tour in the fifties. You know? It wasn’t album based.

On why she likes to do it that way:

I always liked to do it that way because I am a real instant gratification junkie. I always want that I always want that instant feedback; that warm fuzzy feeling that goes along to be able to share something that meant a lot to me. The difference is with the internet it’s easier (to get it out).  With the added benefit that I don’t have to sell that music, that’s the fun part, everyone have pre-purchased everything I will ever make. And so I don’t have to put single out to my fans and then hope that they will buy it. That’s the really wonderful feeling because I am never measuring my success against the all mighty dollar. 


An Evening with Amanda Palmer – Presented by Charl van Heyningen Enterprises
Spier Amphitheatre, R310, Stellenbosch
17 February 2018
Doors open at 19:00

Tickets start at R270 and be bought here.


An Evening with Amanda Palmer – Presented by Bassline Live
Fox Junction, Newtown
23 February 2018
Doors open 19:30

Tickets start at R200 (early bird) and can be bought here. 

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