Before she was the lead singer, pianist, lyricist, and composer for the "Brechtian punk cabaret" duo the Dresden Dolls, Amanda Palmer was a Wesleyan University graduate who had been involved in theater for a number of years. After college, she founded the Shadowbox Collective, a group that performed plays as well as street theater. (Palmer herself was a busker who performed as a living statue.)
In 2000 she met drummer Brian Viglione; though Palmer could not read music, she formed the Dresden Dolls a year later and became the main musical force behind the group. She also continued to explore other creative avenues, and in 2006 released The Dresden Dolls Companion, a book that featured original art, a history of the band and its first album, and a partial autobiography by Palmer. At the end of that year, the Dresden Dolls performed the Palmer-penned musical The Onion Cellar with the American Repertory Theatre.
In 2008 she released the solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer, which featured Ben Folds as both a producer and a performer. After paying tribute to Radiohead on the 2010 EP Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele, in early 2011 Palmer released Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under, an album filled with references to Australia and New Zealand and written while on tour there.
2012 saw Palmer working towards the release of Theater Is Evil, her first studio album since breaking ties with major labels following Who Killed Amanda Palmer. The album, which featured collaborations with a group of musicians dubbed The Grand Theft Orchestra, was funded by fans through a campaign on the pledge-based fundraising site Kickstarter. The project's original goal of $100,000 was exceeded tenfold, with over a million dollars in pledges being collected.