Interviews

Published on May 17th, 2006 | by The Beige Baron

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Missy Higgins Interview

— Probably by S. Williamson, because he takes baths

It helps to talk about it.

Weekend mornings I take my copy of The Sound Of White and portable cd-player into the shower recess. Turn on the hot water, press play, and go back to bed. I lie there, close my eyes, and listen to the bathroom tile reverberate that lovely Orstralian lilt, all the while imagining it really is Missy Higgins serenading me from the steamy room. My therapist insists such peccadillos are (not solely due to the risk of electrocution) unhealthy. I disagree, and have since discontinued my medication. It’s obvious Missy and I are destined to be together.

The petite chanteuse is as affable over the phone as I projected her to be.

“It’s a really exciting time, and sort of nerve-wracking.” While Missy chats, I scissor out smiling pictures of her from glossy magazines and superimpose them besides portraits of myself. The perfect relationship. Perhaps I will post them to her.

“I never imagined I could have this kind of musical career; I figured I’d be singing jazz or someone else’s songs or singing in my brother’s band. I just never thought I’d be singing my own songs and that they would get onto pop radio. Now I can’t imagine singing anyone else’s.”

I mention the timbre of her delightfully parochial voice. The charming Aussie dipthongs, the occasional ockerisms.

“I find it quite grating when I know that an artist is Australian, but is singing with a really American accent. And I’ve always thought, why the fuck are they singing like that?

“It’s literally just how I sing,” she says cutely. “I find it quite grating when I know that an artist is Australian, but is singing with a really American accent. And I’ve always thought, why the fuck are they singing like that? I feel it would be dishonest of me to sing in any other voice or accent than my own. An affectation.”

Concerned at the prospect of any other suitors who may be competing for her affections, I surreptitiously broach whether Missy has been the target of any unwanted attentions?

“Not really,” she ponders mildly, and my heart soars. “To tell you the truth, I don’t really read much about myself for that very reason. People often really want to talk about the private things in other people’s life, but I don’t really want to become immersed in that, because the person people are talking about isn’t really me. I feel very different to ‘Missy Higgins’ in a way. It’s sort of hard to explain.”

Oh, I understand I assure her. I’m not really me either. This is further proof of our burgeoning connection.

“The person who does the shows and sells the records, I feel quite removed from that person.” She laughs mercurially, and to my ears it’s the sound of gold coins falling from a purse. “It’s a good way to remain mentally stable.”

I pause. What does she mean by that last comment? Is she suggesting I’m unstable? I brush away the paranoia, and confess to her I have been watching her for some time. I skip over the details. Like parking my car in her driveway late at night and taking photos of her house (I need them for my Missy shrine). Or the phonecalls and heavy-beathing. Or the couriering of dead roses. Instead, I mention a gig at the Corner late last year, where her parents were seated at an elevated private little table. What was it like for them to witness you perform to such an adoring crowd?

“They say it’s so surreal.” She giggles, irrepressibly. “They’ve been to other shows before, like when I played at Day On The Green. I got this t-shirt for my dad, which is a Missy Higgins t-shirt, but I’d written an apostrophe on it in after the ‘s’ and then the word ‘Dad’, and I announced to the crowd that my dad wearing a t-shirt that said that. My parents ended up getting absolutely mauled, and I remember he said it was one of the most bizarre feelings, and kind of experienced a little bit of what it’s like for me. They are so proud of me though. It’s the hot topic at all the bridge nights.”

What attracts such a virginal songstress to doing the Skyhooks cover, You Just Like Me ‘Cos I’m Good In Bed ? I assure Missy that I like her for reasons of a much higher spiritual plane than that.

“Umm, I got asked to by Triple J, for their 30 th anniversary.” Missy is patient, and I empathise with the necessary tediousness of the question. “They wanted a handful of bands to do a cover of that song, and do a whole lot of different versions of it, and I think I was the only one who came up with the goods by the deadline. I really liked the way it turned out. My brother played piano on it.”

How does she feel about her inclusion on the recent MTV Awards, and the plethora of ‘ring-in’ big commercial American stars there to legitimise an Australian ceremony? Does she feel there’s a little bit of cultural cringe going on?

‘Yeah, I know – it’s fucking pathetic isn’t it?” Mildly shocked at the cuss word, I’m not sure if the question is rhetorical. “I was laughing about that the other day. For me, I’m really looking forward to meeting Anna Nicole Smith.”

I peek a look at my photo wall collage, and blush. Missy’s head mounted above Anna Nicole’s globular mammaries. Well, I stutter, even at a cursory glance, you obviously have a lot in common.

“Definitely.” She laughs and I picture the flash of those white teeth. “I can’t wait to see what she has to teach me about life. When I say it’s pathetic, I think it’s actually very tongue-in-cheek. Everyone of those American stars who are coming out is famous for absolutely no reason. It’s the trash that everybody wants to see. Like the reality-tv phenomenon.”

I touch awkwardly on the speculation about her sexuality in the media. I sympathise, having had people speculate about my own.

“I find it really fascinating.” She draws out the sarcasm. “I guess I don’t really know why people give a shit. I hope that it gets boring after a while. I’d hate to become one of those people who is more famous for their personal life, than what they actually do .

Distressingly, scuttlebutt currently circulates of how Tim Rogers (You Am I) reportedly bludgeoned Missy with a guitar and knocked her unconscious at the Falls Festival last December. Is this true? Would she like me to exact a terrible revenge? I know where he lives, Missy…

“Oh god, no.” She is dismissive of the event, but I sense I have touched on a raw pain. “There’s so many rumours about that floating around. I’ve heard that he supposedly came up and whacked me. The fact that he hit me with his guitar is bullshit . What really happened was that we met that night for the first time, and we got on quite well. And then, I was hanging around the VIP tent, and I saw him coming up to me and he puts his arms out to give me a big hug, and he picked my up off the ground and started walking.”

At this information I grit my teeth, and start scratching out the eyes of a picture of Rogers in my copy of Girlfriend. Missy continues, oblivious to my rage.

“And then Tim tripped over the tent peg. And fell on top of me, and I whacked my head and was unconscious. I got really bad concussion and didn’t know where I was for about an hour. It was really scary. I woke up, and everyone was all around me going ‘Missy! Missy!’ And I was like ‘What the fuck?’ He felt really bad. All I could see was Tim Rogers in the background, trying to come up to me and say sorry, but all the security guards were holding him back. For some reason though, after about an hour, that knock on my head made me lose all my inhibitions, and I remember being so much loving and more affectionate with everyone. When it became my turn to go up onstage I remember being really confident on stage, more so than ever before, and just bouncing around.”

The knowledge that Missy Higgins can be so easily swept off her feet, and rendered amorous by a blow to the head, somewhat pacifies me. I take note, and wrap up our conversation.

“See you soon, Missy,” I say. And I mean it.

The Special Two EP, and the album The Sound Of White is out now thru Eleven/EMI.


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.



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