At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic American musician Amanda Palmer was touring New Zealand when the borders closed and her 'short tour' turned into a two-year stay.
Palmer was joined initially by her five-year-old-son Ash, and her then-husband, author Neil Gaiman.
Their marriage ended and Gaiman went to Scotland while Palmer and Ash stayed on in Havelock North, and then Waiheke Island. During these two years the New Zealand Survival Songs EP were written. The EP was released Friday.
“It’s a little schizophrenic but actually now that I’m looking at the whole collection of songs, it actually tells a pretty good story of what happened while I was here.”
The songs were not actually written during the Covid-19 lockdowns, which she devoted to spending time with her son, but around them.
“All I wanted to do was write about what was happening and find some catharsis and make sense of my feelings by going to the piano, and I couldn’t because I was in lockdown alone with a kid.
“The songs didn’t get written until I had a teeny bit of time to sneak in some writing time.”
The songs act as an intimate record of her time here, Palmer said.
“I keep a journal and stuff, but going back and revisiting these songs is a better record than anything else. Better than iPhone photos, better than voice memos, better than anything.”
For instance, 'The Man Who Ate Too Much' dives deep into Palmer's experience in Havelock North in the uncertain early days of the pandemic and the people who helped her cope there.
Palmer, who crowdfunds her work on Patreon, released the song to her fanbase but she did not know for sure at the time if it would turn into something more.
"There was something about putting the song out just to my community and I remember thinking in the back of my head, 'At some point in the future I'll go to RNZ with a full collection of songs'.
"And that's sort of what happened."
Amanda joined The Weekend in RNZ's Auckland studio to play some songs with a keyboard, two guitars and special guests including Julia Deans.