“If you really love the people who support your work, they’ll go to the ends of the earth for you.”
Speaking of Kickstarter campaigns, remember that time our very own Amanda Palmer ’98put up a plea for a modest $100,000 to finance her new album and tour? Instead, the Dresden Dolls frontwoman ended up raising—wait for it—$1,192,793.Sure, you could say there’s a unique cult of fandom surrounding Palmer. Just recall the reaction to her impromptu “ninja gig” in Eclectic last September. Or consider that two donors fronted $10,000 for the chance to have dinner with the singer while she drew a portrait of her guest. But, Palmer says, crowdfunding is a viable model not just for the beloved and few.In a fascinatingvideo interviewwith TIME, the singer argues, convincingly, that “we’re really looking at crowdfunding as a new, future model for how musicians and artists can connect with their fans and audiences and put out music.”
“I think this can pretty much work for anyone, but you need to keep your goals pretty realistic,” says Palmer, whose goal turned out to be a hell of a lot more realistic than she realized. For her, the story of independence began when she left her record label after 2008’s Who Killed Amanda Palmer?. She describes her thought process as: “My fanbase is pretty big now. These guys [at the record label] aren’t understanding me. . . . I think it’s time to go and do this myself, and I think I know how to do it.” So she did. And she let her freak flag fly. As TIME points out,
Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls recently visited seven Occupy sites in Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, Boston and New York. Afterwards, she worked with Boston filmmaker Michael Gill to produce a video paying homage to the protesters. It features a montage of photos documenting the movement, as well as Palmer’s ukelele rendition of the 1975 Leon Rosselson protest song “The World Turned Upside Down”.
Click past the jump for the full video, and click here, here, here, or here for more high-profile Wesleyan alums weighing in on the OWS protests.
[A-Batte edit: If you’re curious about what’s happening for today’s #OWS Global Day of Action on campus, check out the march this afternoon.]
So about three weeks ago, y’all saw video clips from Waka Flocka Feinstein ’13‘s awesome interview with Amanda Palmer ’98 under the auspices of the Aural Wes blog.
Little did you likely know, however, that three others–Elizabeth Litvitskiy ’15, Grace Nix ’15, and myself–were sitting immediately to the left of the frame, recording the conversation on Audacity (you can hear our laughter at certain points). What’s more is that we have nearly forty minutes of delicious audio footage taken before Waka Flocka started asking his questions. The majority of this recording is new shit, and is worth listening to even if you have never heard of Amanda Palmer before. Of course, if you know/love Amanda Palmer, then this is a must-listen.
“I wanted to write a mock Wesleyan fight song. And then I heard the actual Wesleyan fight song, and it wasn’t very interesting, so I just wrote a song about torching the school.”
Shortly before Amanda Palmer ’98 took to the stage (err, floor) for last Friday’s intimate “ninja gig” at Eclectic, Aural Wes’ Waka Flocka Feinstein ’13 caught wind via Wesleying of the performer’s surprise presence on campus. A longtime fan of Palmer’s work, the film major and Static Stamina frontman acted fast: he grabbed his camera, temporarily unprivatized his Twitter, and set up an interview within the half hour in one simple tweet:
The result, which surfaced on Aural Wes earlier today, is a fascinating and darkly hilarious conversation focused largely on a topic previously shrouded in mystery and taboo: Palmer’s experiences at Wesleyan in the ’90s—and just why they were traumatic enough to warrant a scathing (if hilarious) bastardization of the Wesleyan Fight Song.
A: An Amanda Palmer “ninja gig” ensues when a striking, heavily made-up Amanda Palmer ’98 appears on the Eclectic steps and politely invites a couple hundred riveted students into the Eclectic living room, who sit cross-legged at command and politely await the singer’s direction. The show was announced two hours earlier via Twitter.
What did you do over break? Will Feinstein ’13 managed to track down a rare live recording of Amanda Palmer ’98 of Dresden Dolls fame performing “Wesleyan Fight Song” (no, not the actual fight song) during a 2004 performance at Wesleyan. The unreleased track is either a brilliant tribute to Palmer’s Wes career or a scathing indictment of the school. Maybe it’s both. Some choice sample couplets:
“Got sexually harassed by DKE / Recovered and composed a Wespeak”
“College Row is burning down / It’s Armageddon Middletown!”
“Sent Doug Bennet flowers, raped a sex offender / Pierced my nose and changed my gender”
Feinstein managed to obtain the recording only by contacting its top (and, perhaps, only) listener on Last.fm. He only realized he was sitting on a rare treasure, however, on last week’s Wesleyan Birthright trip, when he showed it to Scott Greene ’13, who had previously searched for the track to no avail. (According to a 2004 Argus article, this was part of a 2/13/04 Dresden Dolls show at Eclectic, during which Palmer prefaced “Wesleyan Fight Song” and “Valentine’s” as songs she wrote at Wes, “never heard before and hopefully never heard again.”) Here’s the song:
Some discussion questions: Is Amanda Palmer harboring some bizarre internal malice towards her alma mater, manifesting itself in lines like “I don’t care if you burn away”? Does this make her the first prominent alumnus ever to return to campus to express bitterness towards Wes in song? How many of her ’90s Wesleyan references are still relevant? When will MGMT write a tribute to us?
Here’s a cover performance by a talented YouTube pianist by the username of “addnamehere.” Goodness knows where he learned the song.
So start the semester off in style: with an uncomfortably aggressive song about burning Wesleyan down.
Amanda Palmer ’98, of Dresden Dolls fame, wants out of a complicated relationship with her record label. From Pitchfork:
Don’t make Amanda Palmer angry. Just ask her current label, Warner Music subsidiary and heavy metal haven Roadrunner Records. The Dresden Dolls frontwoman recently eviscerated Roadrunner in a recent “Moon River”-type live ballad called “Please Drop Me”. (Sample lyric: “Please drop me, what do I have to do?/ I’m tired of sucking corporate dick.”)
Amanda Palmer ’98, of Dresden Dolls fame, writes beautiful anecdotes and thoughtful reflections about her life as a musical artist and as a person. She occasionally references her years at Wesleyan in her recounting of her experience:
when i was 18 or 19, i remember living in the basement of eclectic, the society i belonged to at wesleyan university. i had somehow gotten ahold of a 3-disc collection (stolen from the college radio station, i’m pretty sure) called “the beat generation”. it was a compilation of wicked hip 50s ephemera, music, spoken word, it truly set the scene. allen ginsberg, lenny bruce, recordings of kerouac reading aloud, bop and more bop, burroughs….they were all there. i was unhip. i’d had no idea. it was like all of a sudden someone had walked me in the backdoor of a place i’d been craving to visit since birth. i remember freaking my shit out night after night thinking “what are we DOING???? we’re doing NOTHING!!! fuck. we could be DOING everything!!!!” i felt like i had found what i came to college for, but instead on it being on campus, it was on compact disc. eclectic was an old house with lots of character and there was a large room across from mine, in the basement, with a padlock on the door. i found the key from someone and came upon an empty, dingy space the size of a large living room and my mind went wild: “yes, YES ! here ! this is where we’ll put the tables and chairs. this is where we’ll put the stage. i’ll make coffee. we’ll drink whiskey. we’ll chain-smoke. fuck this is going to be AMAZING.” i even (and this part i’m embarrassed to admit) started donning my hip russian sailor shirt and hep fifties beret when cleaning out the space (oh yes, with awl and broom and vacuum, it took days, and my papers and grades suffered most likely). i was so convinced i would create bohemia for my campus. the only problem was, i had no friends and no idea what to do next, after i’d cleaned it. so i got distracted by the likelihood that it would be an abortion-like, unromantic cesspool of unsuccessful beer-drinking and uninspired chain-smoking, much like the parties we were having weekly on the top floor, where even things as hip and hep and shooting heroin didn’t have any substance, everyone was just so blase, bored and over it all. i moved on to other things.