THIS JUST IN: AMANDA PALMER SHOWS OFF SPLIT PERSONALITIES IN EVELYN EVELYN
Amanda Palmer is an artist. She doesn’t stick with one singular medium. At any given time, she’s straddling the lines between performance art, performing music and making a political statement on gay marriage and Katy Perry simultaneously.
From her her work as the frontwoman of The Dresden Dolls to her solo career as the ringmaster of her creepy-but-incredibly-intriguing musical circus, Amanda Palmer never ceases to amaze or amuse. Her latest project is something she’s actually been working on a while — since 2007, she’s just been really busy, if you haven’t noticed. Amanda is one half of the conceptual twin duo Evelyn Evelyn.
Her cohort is Jason Webley, a folk artist and friend of Amanda’s who joins her in lighthearted jaunts of being conjoined twins and accompanies her in their collaborations with the likes of Tegan and Sara, Margaret Cho and out actress Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds).
Amanda and Jason let us ask them some questions, but then the twins wanted to answer some of their own, as well. They’re quite needy, but they are talented enough that we let them have their own time.
AfterEllen.com: You have a lot of collaborations on the Evelyn Evelyn album. How did you decide who you wanted to have on the tracks with you?
Jason Webley: We were really blessed with the people we had working on this. We did most of the tracking in Seattle, so quite a few of the players are the folks I’ve been playing with for years. But a big part of the project were the musicians from the band "Estradasphere," especially Tim Smolens and Jason Schimmel. They are from Santa Cruz, but Amanda and I randomly met them when they were playing in Boston just before we started working on this project. They are absolutely phenomenal players and they blew our minds. Shortly thereafter, they happened to be moving to Seattle and we did a large part of the tracking in their studios and they play on a bunch of these tracks.
As to Gerard Way, Weird Al, Tegan, Sara and everyone else who sings on "My Space" we just thought it would be great to have a massive sing-a-long at the end. It is great that so many amazing people were into being a part of this.
Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley
AE: How is the music for EE inspired differently than that of Amanda Palmer or The Dresden Dolls?
Amanda Palmer: Well, i think the twins’ creative process is a little difficult to understand, but it’s quite magical. They write, sing and collaborate with one another so effortlessly it’s almost like they’re one person.
AE: Since being twins is a huge part of the theme, how fun was it to record a song with Tegan and Sara? Is the song twin-inspired?
AP: The song "My Space" was, as the twins have told us, inspired by their fascination with the internet. So no, it’s not a specifically twin-themed song. They really admire Tegan and Sara, they’re often talking about how jealous they are of their openness and on-stage banter. The twins hardly ever talk (in fact, they almost refuse the acknowledge the audience) when they play live. But they’re growing.
AE: How was working with Kirsten Vangsness? How did she get involved?
AE: Kirsten and I met in LA last year and had a ball getting to know each other, she’s a fine, fine lady. She just happened to be on my radar when we were looking for fancy celebrity vocalists to join on the twins’ record. We tried to include a wide range of people — and I think managing to get Gerard Way, Frances Bean Cobain and Weird Al on the same song is like some fantastic feat of nature that can only happen in a universe where everyone really believed in the cause. The twins are so passionate and genuine that they’re really irresistible &mdsah; it wasn’t hard to get people to show their support.
AE: What can we expect from the graphic novel that will accompany the album and tour? How did you come up with the concept and adapt it into all the different mediums, from the page to the stage?
JW: The graphic novel won’t be done until after the tour. It will come out next fall. For the most part we’ve left it up to them how they want that to shape the live show, the record and the book. We’ve had a lot of ideas and helped them, of course… I guess ultimately, each medium has just demanded very different things. For the album, we had all the resources of the studio and a lot of time to try and really shape and produce the songs. But live, the twins will be performing, more or less, solo — so the focus will be different. I think the songs work well in both contexts.
With the graphic novel, on the other hand, the music isn’t part of the equation at all. It will just deal with telling the life story of the twins up until now — theirs is pretty incredible.
The duo of Lyn and Eva Neville began singing when they joined the Dillard and Fullerton’s Traveling Circus, leaving their farm and family in Western Kansas to be a traveling act. The conjoined twins recently left the circus and decided to go at it alone.
AE: How did you discover your musical talents?
EE: When Mr. Dillard gave us the ukulele, he would be angry if we didn’t play it so we discovered them.
AE: Have you ever tried not dressing alike to see if it inspired you?
Do you finish each other’s lyrical lines for one another?
AE: What kind of music inspired you growing up together?
EE: It was later when we were inspired by music. in the circus the clowns had a band but we didn’t like it, except "The Beer Barrel Polka." But we like the Andrews Sisters singing it more. We found them on YouTube when we looked for "Beer Barrel Polka" and they are our favorite — except maybe Joy Division who is on YouTube, too, and is our favorite, too.
AE: How have your solo careers inspired you in your music together?
EE: Our solo career inspires our music a lot because we dont have to play music that is just for the circus anymore, and we can play other instruments than just the ukulele now. We also have so many friends now who also play instruments.
Evelyn Evelyn’s self-titled album will be released on March 30.
— by Trish Bendix