Interview with Missy Higgins: The Awkward Truth

Missy HigginsArtists rarely embody the character, mood and meaning of their music once the stage lights have been dimmed. While it’s an entertaining notion to picture Cobra Starship as total party animals, to envision My Chemical Romance as full-time anaemic sadists, and to believe that Michael Jackson truly does want to heal the world, in most cases, what we see under the spotlight is a far cry from what musicians are truly like. But when it comes to Australian indie-pop artist Missy Higgins, what you see is what you get.

Her albums take listeners on her personal journeys of discovery and—for better or worse—Missy puts all of the pain, fear, love, loss, hurt and excitement she’s lived through over the years, and learnt from, up for the taking. She delivers her material in an unabashedly honest fashion; an approach which appears to have gone far in helping this chick from Down Under win over dedicated fan bases across the States.

Seven months ago Missy performed at Webster Hall, five months ago she opened for Ben Folds at Terminal 5, and now she’s back at the same venue co-headlining a gig with Justin Nozuka. Playing three shows since summer at prestigious New York venues is no mean feat—especially for an Aussie artist. Speaking on the phone from Melbourne, Australia, Missy comes across as modest and down-to-earth as she struggles to pinpoint exactly what has helped her win over crowds in the Big Apple. “I have no idea. From what people tell me, it’s the fact that they can relate to something that I’m doing, or something that I’m saying in my songs. A lot of the music that people respond to is music that makes people feel less alone, and music that articulates what they’ve been trying to figure out inside their head for a long time. That’s the only thing I can put it down to.”

Missy’s most recent delivery, On A Clear Night, is a more mature and developed delivery than her debut, The Sound Of White. Missy’s voice is more defined and she attacks issues with more depth, in a more intelligent way. “I’m one of those people that’s always questioning everything around me, and analyzing things. I just dive into issues, and if I’m going through a certain heartache, or a certain difficult time in a relationship, or something’s really playing on my mind, then it’ll kind of take over my entire being for a week. I’ll enter into it from several different angles and write songs about it that sound like they’re about different things, but they’re actually about the same thing. I feel things with extreme intensity and I guess I always have.”

When it comes to this 25-year-old, one thing’s for sure; Missy doesn’t hide behind characters in her songs, or drown her meanings in metaphors. Her music offers insight into the experiences that have brought her to this point, and she believes in this sincere and very straightforward approach. “I don’t think you necessarily need to be an eccentric person in order to win over people’s hearts. I would like to think it’s my music that speaks for itself. I’ve never been that confident speaking in-between songs onstage but I rest easy in the fact that my songs speak for me. That’s why I write songs; so that I have a form of communicating that’s completely inside my comfort zone,” she says.