The speaker interviews: Amanda Palmer

Who better to interview Amanda Palmer than her co-joined Evelyn Evelyn twin, Jason Webley!

Jason: Looking over the list of speakers at Webstock, you and I kind of stand out. With just a couple exceptions, everyone at Webstock is somehow directly involved in creating and recreating the information infrastructure of the web and the world today… and then you’ve got us — a singer and an accordion player. Why do you think the folks at Webstock are interested in hearing from you/us?

Amanda: You know, I had a really interesting experience about a month ago. I wound up as the ONLY artist at a weird conference-planning meeting for the berkman center, at harvard. There were people from ALL across the music, law and entertainment industry, and some real heavyweights….the presidents of EMI, RIAA, ASCAP and those sorts of business heads. And the meeting was a real eye-opener…it was a reminder that I live in a strange bubble of doing without much strategizing, whereas all these people are actually thinking about WHAT I’m doing. It was strangely unsettling to be in a room where people starting discussing “The Artist”, and what “The Artist” wants…and I was like: “wait…who the fuck are you talking about? I don’t know any artists like that.” But then again, I hang out with a bunch of crazed bohemians like you who are much more interested in connecting with people than they are in being rich and famous. But I think it’s important for content and tools to be represented in equal balance when having discussions about art and the internet…otherwise it’s just a bunch of words and theorizing. And the people of Webstock probably don’t know this, but I also think that you and I are perfect examples of how two very similar artists use the tools differently and hold different levels of conversation off and online. We’re like two sides of the same coin — since we’re both fiercly DIY but I’m a much more compulsive twitterer and blogger, with a need to expose and share, and use a team to do it, whereas you come straight from the source without an online team behind you, but don’t put out as much daily product.

Jason: Are you nervous at all? I’ll confess, I have some fear that I’ll start talking and the audience will rise up, armed with whatever the information technology equivalent of pitchforks is, call me out as an impostor and run me into a volcano.

Amanda: I think the beautiful thing about the HOW TO BE AN ARTIST ONLINE discussion is this: since there no fucking rules, you can’t do it wrong.

Anybody saying “but you should be doing x y and z in your social media realm” is missing the point — you CAN, but you don’t have to. I think these people are actually going to be interested in what we have to say about what we do not from a point of judgement, but in a real brain-picking operation theater. They’ve got so much technology to share with us, and we are the very content so many of them live to distribute. I have the feeling it’s going to be a real treat — I’ve done these sorts of conferences before and they can either be really boring and stale or you can leave feeling like we’re a new generation of love-kings who are armed to change the world. Since the Webstock people seem to be awesome, I’m going to assume this conference will fall into the latter category.

Jason: The line-up is really impressive. Are there any talks you are especially interested in seeing?

Amanda: YES. I kind of want to see EVERYTHING. I’ve been (and we’ve talked about this) very interested lately in the art of balancing out life with connection overload — I’m very keen to see where that conversation fits into the conference. I also HAVE TO SEE MERLIN MANN’S MIME. I mean, come on. Mime. At a web conference. Rad.

Jason: Do you think a career like yours or mine would have been possible twenty years ago, before the Internet, before Youtube, before Twitter?

Amanda: Yes. Don’t you remember xerox machines and flyers?

I think we couldn’t do AS much, AS fast, but you and I were both touring in the days before cell phones, smart phones, and constant email. We just used different tools. We xeroxed. We flyered. We connected with less people, less fast, and less frequently. Would we have made it over to New Zealand? Probably not, but who knows.

Jason: Someone was telling me a 2012 end of the world theory that they are predicting huge solar flares that would likely wipe out all satellites on earth crippling communications. Seems extremely unlikely, but I think I’m a fan. If you could vote for an end of the world, what would you pick?

Amanda: Honestly, I think I’d love the few first days of that, but I wouldn’t want to deal with the fall-out that would inevitable produce mass-mayhem and marshall law.

I’d like us to all explode at once, please. Less messy. BUT I think it would be great if we had a few weeks warning, THEN spontaneous earth combustion. That would be a BAD-ASS couple of weeks.

There would be UNPARALLELED mass suicides and dance parties.

Jason: We’re going to be in Wellington for almost a week. Last time I was there I had only about 36 hours. What should we do? Know any good restaurants?

Amanda: We will be spending the majority of our time on Cuba street. Maybe we should both busk and use our busking experiences as a starting point for our talks.

I tried busking outside the Sydney Opera House the other day, the day before my show there (for almost 2,000 people), and NOBODY stopped to listen. It was such a humbling reminder that people don’t have to love you out of context. But maybe we’ll make enough for beer.

Thank you Amanda and Jason! There is absolutely no need to be nervous. And I think I speak for everyone at Webstock in saying that “yes, we are a new generation of love-kings who are armed to change the world!”

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