Don’t be fooled, the burlesque exterior of the Boston-based Dresden Dolls is more than a cynical front, and masks an acute intelligence and an honest performance art aestetic, and that’s before you’ve even started on the music! The duo’s full-length debut is a confident piece of work which should ensure they recieve the more widespread recognition they deserve. I managed to pull some answers out of the female half of the band, Amanda Palmer, and found her unexpectedly upbeat.
How are you?
Fucking fantastic. I just back from seeing Antony and The Johnsons (third time…and they keep getting better). What a wonderful gift for my ears.
There seems to be a feeling of childhood that runs through a lot of your songs. Does a lot of your writing come from memories of your childhood?
Some of it. I think art and childhood are always connected. It’s a place you can always draw from because the associations are always so strong… like the way your childhood home always shows up in your dreams vivid as day.
I read that you met Brian Viglione at one of the parties that you throw every now and then. Can you describe one of these parties?
Wild, loud, three-floor art madness. Dancers, musicians, poets, sculptors, you name it. It was the bohemian dream for a while.
I also read that your stage personas were inspired more by a troupe of burlesque strippers than by Weimar-era cabaret, as is often contended, can you tell me a bit more about that?
Well, sort of. It was more like this: we hadn’t been wearing costumes and one night we were asked to perform on the same bill as a burlesque group as part of their night. So to fit it and play around, we dressed up in suits and dresses and make-up. And it worked, so it stuck.
Are you writing at the moment? What sort of material?
I am writing NOTHING at the moment, save endless email interviews. Feel guilty? Actually, I am not writing anything because I’m just not in the writing phase. I’m not worried. It’ll come back.
If there was a play about The Dresden Dolls, which playwright, living or dead, would write it?
Where did you learn to play the piano?
My mother taught me the basics and then I more or less taught myself. I had teachers here and there but never took it very seriously. I still don’t, I think that probably shows.
Would you describe yourself as a feminist?
I think the term is pretty outdated. I’m a post-post-feminist.
A lot of your writing seems to come from relationships with people very close to you. How do you think your songs have effected these relationships?
I’ll never know, but it’s an interesting question. I don’t write anything in a song that I can’t explain in person, so I don’t think it’s that important. I have occasionally had to say “By the way, I wrote this very hyperbolic song about you and our relationship. Please don’t be offended. It was fictionalized for dramatic effect.”
The Dresden Dolls formed in 2000, the album was only released in 2004. Why the long gestation period?
The album was actually created in 2002 even though it took a while to get out through all the channels. Things just ended up taking a long time….we wanted to do things right the first time.
So what’s next for The Dresden Dolls?
Bed for me. After that, breakfast. After that, Broadway.