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A piece of my mind

Amanda Palmer Songwriter and lead singer of the Dresden Dolls

I'm looking forward to playing at the Edinburgh Festival for the fourth time. Visiting the Fringe is usually number one on my list of priorities. I'll be hooking up with a bunch of my freaky art friends, so the show will definitely not be a quiet one.

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I haven't been touring officially since I got off the road with the theatre group Danger Ensemble, but I have been doing "flash" gigs, using Twitter to announce them. A couple of weeks ago, I said I'd be playing on the beach in LA the next day. I basically sit down my ukulele case and the audience throws money in - people are surprisingly honourable like that.

I grew up in Boston. It's a smart town and a cold town. We weren't exactly nurtured by the Boston scene - other local bands would be rolling their eyes and saying "What the f*** are these guys doing?".

Calling ourselves a Brechtian rock band got the right reaction - people think Weimar, cabaret, theatricality, lack of sentimentality, communism. It summons a lot of strong images.

I'd been trying to get back to my roots, and the theatre director at my old high school was an early mentor. So I went back there and the kids and I created a play. It was profound and heart-breaking for all of us, since we ended up digging a lot deeper than any of us expected.

When I attended Wesleyan University, I lived in a fraternity called the Eclectic Society. It was good and bad and strange and wonderful, but I was disappointed with college. I had pictured my life as something out of Animal House: I would meet all my soulmates and sit up till six in the morning philosophising and drinking red wine.

When I was younger, I was a louder, more dynamic version of myself, in a bad way - my insecurities were much louder, and so were my antidotes. I think everyone saw me as this crazy, flamboyant performer, but really I was afraid of everybody.

Yoga and meditation play a huge role in my ability to stay balanced and cope with the speed of life.

I'm still stuck in a strange kind of purgatory with my old record label, Roadrunner. Soon I will be free! They're just an obstacle - they asked me to edit out bits from the music video for new single Leeds United because they thought my belly looked too fat. I'm vain enough to know when I'm not looking good, and I thought I looked rather hot. So I posted a blog about it, which led to my wonderful fans putting up a website - the ReBellyon.

I decided to release a companion book with my last album Who Killed Amanda Palmer? because I'd get to do what I want and the record label wouldn't get any of the money. I expected it to be a teeny little booklet, but as soon as Neil Gaiman got involved it became this huge collection of stories and photography. Since we were both seeing other people at the time, it was strictly platonic, but we wound up breaking up with our significant others and started dating. So I got a book and a boyfriend.

Goth musician Voltaire is a wonderfully sick bastard. As much as I love the parody he did of my song Coin Operated Boy, it doesn't hold a candle to my favourite song of his, Bomb New Jersey - which makes more sense when you live in New England.

I'm reading The End Of Nature by Bill McKibben, as well as everything Neil Gaiman's ever written - kind of out of obligation, although I'm finding it pleasurable because he's a brilliant writer.

A quote I love so much is: "Honour those who seek the truth, but beware of those who've found it."

Interview by Sean Bell Amanda Palmer plays the HMV Playhouse, Edinburgh, on August 22.

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