AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT....
BONJOUR DEAR COMRADES!!!
clearly it was not enough this month to slog around europe, the UK and ireland playing epically long shows every night. we needed a COMPLETELY UNRELATED PROJECT!
TL;DR at the london patron pub gig at the end of august, i saw my dear friend maxim play this very hilarious song that was written by HIS cabaret friend sarah-louise (who wasn't there). i said "we should record that and make a ridiculous video!!" because patreon, we could, and we did.
it's called THE FRENCH BREXIT SONG and it's on youtube here:
we also made a professional recording of the song...
(we are, as usual, sending download codes to patrons ($3+ patrons...that post is coming shortly.)
...and we also put it up on bandcamp.
ALL proceeds for the first month of digital sales will go to Open Piano For Refugees!!!
here's some words from udo, the organizer of Open Piano:
Open Piano for Refugees is a non-profit organization, who tries to increase appreciation and tolerance in society through music. Therefore we place freely accessible high quality grand pianos in public spaces on which everyone is welcome to play. With the donations we receive, we opened up in Vienna probably the first social music institute named DoReMi, which primarily includes the inclusion of refugees and socially disadvantaged people (with and without migration background). In the fourth semester we teach now 170 students with a "pay what you can" concept, so it's affordable for everyone. Amanda helped us already with some Ninja Gigs to raise thousands for new students and potential more DoReMis in other cities. And now, this support! How awesome is that, how awesome is she and how awesome is her community. We are so lucky to be part of it. THANKS!!"
ahem. zee longer story:
to open with the critical: this silly yet important (?) project is the sort of totally left-field thing that could NEVER HAPPEN without patronage. HOW? things like this do not, cannot make money. there's just no revenue avenue. and it's EXACTLY these sorts of "let's just fucking do it" projects that i had in mind when i dreamed of a patronage system that would allow for fast, topical art.
so this is what happened.
at the london patron pub gig (in camden at the golden lion, itself a beautiful offered synchronicity that you can read about that whole beautiful day/see photos here), a few friends performed in the pub: ruby wednesday, christo squier and fiona fey, and maxim melton.
max, just so you understand how incredibly sweet and full circle this story is, was an early-days dresden dolls fan living in the UK, and i got to know him through the shadowbox, the dresden dolls old message board forum. (i still miss it). he was just one of the funniest and kindest and most astute members of the board. i took a gamble and reached out to him randomly back then and asked if he would come on tour with the dresden dolls to help organize the brigade (the extra volunteer performers who filled the lobby every night). so max came on the bus.
he was 19.
max and i have remained good friends over the years (he even came and crashed in the cloud club for a little while), and this is one of the things i really miss about the shadowbox and having a robust discussion and connection forum for the community. trust me, we are working on it. when my website gets overhauled this spring, i hope to be able to pay for and build and offer something a lot better than facebook's single-stream format.
(me and max outside the cloud club, around 2005?)
(from left to right: dearly departed becca darling, me, cloud-club-mate noah blumenson-cook, and max - also around 2005)
(from left to right, our freind and becca's bestie siena oristaglio, becca)
so, back to london pub party.
there wasn't any particular plan and everything was acoustic, and max had just brought his accordion. we were all huddled on the floor of the pub and max played this hilarious song about brexit, and the french stealing back their language back.
photo by dora
it delighted everybody and i asked max what it was, where it came from. he told me it was a ditty that his cabaret friend sarah-louise had written.
is it online?, i asked him.
no, he said.
have you recorded it??
no, he said.
BUT IT'S SO GOOD!!
he shrugged and agreed that yes, it was quite brilliant.
WE SHOULD MAKE THIS A PATREON THING.
the whole pub agreed.
so we fucking DID IT.
WE DID IT!!!!!!
vive le fast art.
max took on the producer's role, found a film director who he'd gone to school with, and an entire crew was put together on less than a month's notice. may i say, for the record, that max ABSOLUTELY KILLED IT. for an academic, musician who's worked various random jobs (including at lush) for many years and has a variety of artistic and entertainment skills, max is one of the best and most professional video producers i've eve had. and he'd never done it before. you never know, folks.
we had one fun day of recording and rehearsal in london the week before the shoot....
here we are with our (french!!!! mais oui) engineer, jean-baptiste pilon.
the basic premise of the script was mine (one set in a cabaret, and let's go literal! props flying!!), but max filled in all of the brilliant and hilarious details. it's fair to say he wrote the video. then we all worked together to tweak. the whole film crew had a meeting in YURT in london to talk through the treatment...(this is me and director, dan, deep in discussion. should the cheese bleed? how can we make cheese bleed?)
photo by gabrielle motola
we also had a lot of phone calls and email-meetings about the props and script (what DO we do about the toupeé line? DOES piers morgan actually wear a toupeé?? DOES IT MATTER??)
photo by gabrielle motola
...and VOILA. it all came together like a dream.
the actual shoot day was a blast. we considered various venue choices but the joint we chose wound up being impeccably perfect: the the normansfieild theater (which is actually part of a museum built in the house of john langdon down, the pioneering medical researcher of learning disabilities (for whom down's syndrome is named). was so perfect for a single-set video that it was worth trekking.
working with sarah-louise young, who i literally had never met until the day we recorded the song, was so fucking wonderful. she's a sister. she reminds me of my other beloved cabaret/chanteuse friends like meow meow, lady rizo, and storm large, she's funny, compassionate, fast, and able to slip immediately from joking about the darkest dark to dropping everything and delivering a spot-on performance. she's a fucking pro and i'm so happy to make a friend like her in london. i'm finding MY PEOPLE!!!!!
and with that, and with extreme gratitude to max, dan the director.....
words from dan (director):
With Brexit somewhere (maybe… at some point) around the corner, there’s no better way to scream or cheer than with some satirical cabaret. It was a pleasure to capture Amanda, Sarah and Max’s song in a farcical nature. Using lo-fi sensibilities and an Edith Piaf homage, we’ve made a music video that should delightfully make as much and as little sense as Brexit itself. The shoot was an exciting all-hands-on-deck sprint as we only had till 6 to wrap in the theatre. Even the lighting team’s hands made an appearance for the final shot, with some heroic party cannon timing. Thankfully the team was amazing, especially in the mad rush capturing the final few shots. Whatever side of this chaos you fall on, hopefully we can share in a (last) laugh and reflect on the UK’s intrinsic and historical ties with Europe :)
words from maxim (writer, performer and producer):
If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s introducing people to other people. Through a rather unconventional life I’ve had the opportunity to meet lots of interesting people, and have the ability to matchmake people creatively. Sometimes, very occasionally, it happens for myself too.
Through a series of events I was invited to a little evening seminar at Senate House Library on ‘Burlesque and Cabaret in Theory and Practice’, appealing to both my academic and performance backgrounds. It was here that I first met La Poule Plombée, and shortly after was introduced to the woman behind the wig, the amazing Sarah-Louise Young. She learned I played accordion. Cut to two weeks later, I am in SLY’s garden eating a crumpet and hearing the makings of the melody of a funny satire on Brexit from the viewpoint of the French. Cut to two weeks even later and we are on stage in a Spiegeltent, ‘La Poule Plombée et son Oscar’, winning Alternative Eurovision with a bit of political satire.
Well over a year later, I am chatting with Amanda and she says she’s doing a pop up shop-gig-hangout for patrons in a week and I should come play. Now, I haven’t performed solo in years – the last five years I’ve almost exclusively written for other people or collaborated on one-off cabaret performances that lose all context outside of the original night (Singing ‘Two Become One’ to a papier-mâché fly whilst dressed as Jeff Goldblum before teleporting, vomiting custard, and lipsyncing Flying Without Wings doesn’t really get many return bookings). Having written a full length musical on queer history, which some London patrons might remember snippets of from the Gatsby shows, I had the material! But I’ve never thought of myself as a singer and my performance partner Mercury (the one with the great voice that I write overly convoluted songs for) was in Devon at a cabaret that night.
So I wracked my brains for stuff to perform on accordion, but solo. Knowing I was on the same ‘bill’ as Ruby Wednesday who can blow the roof off a venue with their lungs, I knew I had to go down the funny route rather than the vocal route. One of those songs was this song. Dusting it off the shelf where it seemed it would remain, I learned the words, re-learned the chords, and gave it a go. It got a good response at the pub, and Amanda in particular was taken with it. Enough that within ten minutes her brain was reeling at the possibilities of getting it recorded and putting out a video. So we did.
Here are a few snaps of us in the studio (the lighting wasn’t great but I hope it captures the joie de vivre of singing at 10am on a very rainy day in London) with music producer JB Pilon (who, quite perfectly, turned out to be French).
Producing the video shoot, I was fortunate enough to know a lot of amazing creative humans already perfect for the project and bring them in. Dan Allen, an indie film maker best known for his horror shorts (as in short films, not his choice of clothing), thank you for your support in collaborating on this together. Matt Groves on props, and James Carver on hair and makeup, I congratulate you on your willingness to pitch in and get things done (to the point where Matt makes a few cameos in the video!). Lily Cotelo, our production manager for the day, you are an absolute star in making sure a project of this size could get done in a day. A special shout out to Gabrielle Motola who did all still photography on the day – you were such a buoyant presence on set, you lifted my spirits at what was the culmination of two very stressful and tiring weeks for me. Oh, and Amanda, thank you for taking the chance on this, recording a song, rehearsing it, and shooting a music video RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF A SUPER HEAVY AND EMOTIONAL TOUR.
Most importantly though, I cannot state strongly enough that this would have been absolutely impossible without the faith and support of the Patreon. Having now known Amanda for quite possibly longer than I haven’t, I have seen her career shift and morph and evolve, and the same goes for the fanbase. Without this model, the weirder stuff doesn’t get made. Without direct patronage and a faith in a performer, that performer can’t produce work they believe in if the work in question is ‘commercially unviable’. Especially when it is a project that they are bringing into the light, rather than creating themselves from scratch. So, thank you Amanda, for taking control of your journey by utilising this medium. And thank you, thank you to every one of you that will have given your money to make this project exist, let alone be a success.
I have no social media, sorry to say, but I do have a full length academic lecture on queer history disguised as a cabaret show, and if you want to stay tuned as to when it is next on (there are big things in the pipeline for 2020!) then please check out Queerstory: The Musical on Instagram and Facebook, alongside my performance partner the amazing Mercury (pi_luttley on Instagram)
words from sarah-louise (writer and performer):
How the song came about:
This song started life as France’s entry for the Alternative Eurovision Song Contest, an annual celebration of alt-cabaret’s response to this much loved camp festival of international pop. Having represented various countries over the past nine years, narrowly missing a win for Scotland the previous summer as a bagpipe accompanied Nicola Sturgeon, I was thrilled to win first place (by unscientific clap-o-meter) with ‘We Want Our French Words Back’, accompanied for one night by my co-writer and ‘little brother Oscar’, aka Maxim Melton.
Maxim and I had met by chance a few weeks before at a cabaret seminar organised by Will Visconti at Senate House. Alongside ‘Dr Duckie’ (Ben Walters) Clare George and Mister Meredith I had been invited to speak about cabaret (I thought I had been invited to contribute to a group panel discussion but on arrival realised a twenty minute presentation was due - cue hastily assembled living embodiment of the spirit of cabaret).
Maxim was in the audience and we got talking afterwards about our shared love of this intimate and vital art form from both his academic and performance
backgrounds. It turned out he played the accordion (and a whole lot more, I learnt later. Go see his beautiful collaboration with Mercury called Queerstory: The Musical) and having thought it impossible to improve on the bagpipes I got inspired and asked if he’d like to compose a song with me. This is the result.
Who is the French bird? Good question.
La Poule Plombée is one of the surviving cast members from Cabaret Whore (a multi-character comedy show from 2009 which birthed three subsequent incarnations). She now has her own solo show written with the brilliant Michael Roulston (www.roulstonandyoung.co.uk) called ‘Je Regrette!’ and has previously appeared in one other music video: the cynical Christmas single ‘You Put The No In Noel’ with Marcel Lucont.
Eurovision was fun (we won a tiny trophy and some cava) but there were no plans to do the song again. When Maxim emailed a few weeks back to say he had played it to Amanda Palmer and she wanted to record it as a duet I was surprised and delighted. When we wrote it we hoped and assumed that Brexit would be yesterday’s news by now. But no, somehow the lyrics were still relevant and the threat of October 31st gave us a destination date and a desire to get cracking.
I had seen Amanda’s work before, mostly online (although we did once share the bill of a variety night during the Edinburgh Fringe at the Voodoo Rooms many years ago hosted by our mutual friend Desmond O’Connor) and so of course I said yes immediately. Why would I not?
So... here is our song. I am hugely grateful to Maxim and Amanda and her loyal supporters who have made this possible. It was fun to film and I am glad to know a collection of impulsive creative decisions made on instinct have born fruit which continues to ripen.
Now all we have to do is get ourselves out of this political shit storm...
(Not to be confused with the Adult Entertainer of the same name)
here are some more behind the scenes photos, taken by gabrielle motola
The French Brexit song
Oh England, you broke our heart
When you first voted to depart
But before you off and pack, one thing
We want our language back
Oh England, you went your way
But for this exit you will pay
Without French letters you’ll be lost
It’s time for you to count la cost
No you can’t have joie de vivre without le français
You’ll lose yourself without our cul-de-sac
There is no fizz without champagne
Though you can gladly keep your rain
We’re taking all our French words back
No, you cannot drive a car without a chauffeur
There’s no déjà-vu without déjà vu
What’s sex without its lingerie?
Piers Morgan without his toupée
We really feel miserable for you
Oh England, you’re such a fool
Did they teach you nothing at school
With politics you’ve been risqué
For Brexit is just an entrée
Yes England, this is the start
Of picking allies à la carte
Soon the whole world will turn on you
It isn’t nice, but it is true
Cause you cannot rendez-vous without le francais
So many things that you will sorely miss
Like etiquette and ambulance
Without us you don’t stand a chance
You’ll die without our life saving French kiss
No you can’t have marriage without fiancé
Without us your soufflé will never rise
Don’t bother to RSVP
We’ve buggered off for après ski
You didn’t get an invite, quelle surprise
Your cheeseboard will be blue without
Roquefort and camembert
When you can’t find the menu
You won't, because it isn’t there
When you smell of faint regret
Instead of fine eau de cologne
You only have yourselves to blame
For dining all alone
No you can’t eat à la mode without le francais
You’ll have to scoff it all off one big plate
Alas there will be no encore
Now that you’ve bolted your back door
For a referendum you will have to wait
And if you want our belle esprit
I’m sorry darling, c’est la vie
You should have voted stay, it is too late
Yes, you should have voted stay it is too late
Written by Sarah-Louise Young and Maxim Melton
Starring La Poule Plombeé, Amanda Palmer, Maxim Melton, and Matt Skully
Producer: Maxim Melton
Music recorded at Buffalo Studio, London
Music producer JB Pilon
Mastered by Jherek Bischoff
Filmed at the Normansfield Theatre, with thanks to the Langdon Down Centre
Directed and edited by Dan Allen
Director of photography: Sal Redpath
Production manager: Lily Cotelo
1st AC: Eliott Poyzer
Gaffer: Brandon Quan
Spark: Ryan Anderson
Hair and makeup: James Carver-Grenside
Props: Matt Skully
Still photography: Gabrielle Motola
Runner: Jacob Aria
as usual....i blast out all of this along with massive thanks to jordan verzar, hayley rosenblum (who worked hard to put this whole post together), michael mccomiskey (who hung out in the basement of the video shoot and cranked out emails), and every single patron who made this possible.
WITHOUT YOU, this literally could not have happened.
how? who the fuck else was going to give us $15k to make a video that has no, zero, nada commercial potential.
i mean, nobody.
so be proud of yourselves.
NOUS SOMMES LES MEDIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
------THE NEVER-ENDING AS ALWAYS---------
1. if you’re a patron, please click through to comment on this post. at the very least, if you’ve read it, indicate that by using the heart symbol.
2. see All the Things i've made so far on patreon: http://amandapalmer.net/patreon-things
3. join the official AFP-patron facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/afpland
4. new to my music and TOTALLY OVERWHELMED? TAKE A WALK THROUGH AMANDALANDA….we made a basic list of my greatest hits n stuff (at least up until a few years ago, this desperately needs updating) on this lovely page: http://amandalanda.amandapalmer.net/
5. general AFP/patreon-related questions? ask away, someone will answer: [email protected]
Fri Nov 1 – UK – Dunfermline – Carnegie Hall
Sat Nov 2 – UK – Glasgow – City Halls
Sun Nov 3 – UK – Manchester – Albert Hall
Mon Nov 4 – UK – York – Opera House
Thu Nov 7 – UK – Newcastle – Tyne Theatre
Sun Nov 24 – Portugal – Braga – Theatro Circo
Thu Dec 5 – UK – London – Union Chapel (SOLD OUT)
Fri Dec 6 – UK – London – Union Chapel (SOLD OUT)
Fri Dec 13th - UK - London - Union Chapel (SOLD OUT)
Sat Dec 14th - UK - London - Union Chapel (SOLD OUT)
THEN DOWN UNDER:
Mon. Dec 30 — Tues. Jan 1 - WOODFORD, QLD - Woodford Folk Festival
Thurs. Jan 16 — Sat. Jan 18 - LAUNCESTON, TAS - Mona Foma Confessional
Mon. Jan 20 - LAUNCESTON, TAS - Princess Theatre, Mona Foma
Wed. Jan 22 - MELBOURNE, VIC - Hamer Hall
Fri. Jan 31 - BRISBANE, QLD - Brisbane Powerhouse
Sat. Feb 1 - BRISBANE, QLD - Brisbane Powerhouse
Fri. Feb 7 - CANBERRA, ACT - Canberra Theatre
Sat. Feb 8 - SPRINGWOOD, NSW - Blue Mountains Theatre
Fri. Feb 14 — Sat. Feb 15 - ADELAIDE, SA - Bonython Hall, Adelaide Fringe
Thurs. Feb 20 - SYDNEY, NSW - Enmore Theatre
Sat. Feb 22 - PERTH, WA - venue and show info TO BE ANNOUNCED
Sat. Feb 29 - DARWIN, NT - Darwin Entertainment Centre
Thurs. Mar 12 — Fri. Mar 13 - AUCKLAND, NZ - Auckland Arts Festival: Hollywood Avondale
ALL TICKETS: https://nointermission.amandapalmer.net