Missy’s special moment
She started as a kid with Triple J Unearthed and now Missy Higgins’ journey comes full circle with her own TV special, writes Mikey Cahill
IMAGINE being in Year 12 and approaching that stomach-knotting moment when you’ve got to make the biggest call of your so-far-verymuch-mapped-out life.
Missy Higgins’ sibling did something that changed the course of her life irrevocably, something that allowed a 17year-old, bushy-tailed Higgins to throw the forks at doing a garden variety, ho-hum undergraduate degree.
“My sister sent in a demo of All For Believing in 2001 I’d recorded to Triple J Unearthed. It was one of the first songs I’d made. You had to send it in on cassette back then,” she says, with that serene smile almost always on her face.
“At the time I listened to Triple J in the morning but I didn’t actually know what Unearthed was. I said (flippant) ‘Yeah sure, send it in, I don’t have any chance of winning’,” she says. “Then I just forgot about it. A couple of months later I got a call and I was at school and my friends were shouting across the courtyard and I ran to the phone booth to take the call.
“This lady on the phone asked me if I was sitting down because she had some really big news. I had no idea what she was talking about (laughs). The enormity of it sunk in over the course of the next week that they’d be playing All For Believing on radio and I’d be playing a live Triple J Unearthed concert.
“I was in Year 12 at the time and getting ready to go to uni then I started to get interest from a few labels and I thought ‘Maybe I don’t have go to uni after all’ which was a very liberating thought.”
Higgins ignored the courting advances of a major, Sony, and went with a boutique label before anyone was using the term boutique ubiquitously like pop-up and bespoke.
“I signed a four-album deal to Eleven: A Music Company on my 18th birthday. They had big plans for me. I thought ‘I’m gonna give this a really big shot’ and if it doesn’t work out I can go back to uni and do an arts degree like my dad always wanted me to do.”
History shows Melissa Higgins was never required to shotgun beer cans on a loose orientation week. Instead, she supported The Waifs then released mega-hit Scar and mega-mega hit album The Sound Of White (now ninetimes platinum) which debuted at No.1 on the ARIA charts. She then won Best Pop Release at the ARIAs and has now won a total of nine ARIA Awards. Arts degree, schmarts degree.
Higgins put out On a Clear Night, The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle and after a six-year gap Solastalgia.
She supported unabashed Missy fanboy Ed Sheeran recently and even joined him on stage to duet on Perfect.
She also had two children (a son Sammy and daughter Luna) with the help of husband Dan Lee and is happy to chat about her latest release.
“Sammy is going pretty well. He’s a pretty hyperactive kid, he needs to be occupied while I’m dealing with Luna. It’s pretty hectic, there’s no downtime any more. I’m really enjoying being a mum of a little baby again because I’m so aware of how quickly that time goes.”
Even with the sleep deprivation, Higgins sounds woke and alert in both senses. Solastalgia’s 49 Candles isn’t a love song like Futon Couch. “49 Candles is a song about the shooting in Orlando in the nightclub. It was such a powerful experience to be in America when that happened and to wake up with a nation grappling with gun violence. This one especially effected the gay community over there, I remember that time really powerfully and it felt good to write a song in protest at the gun laws. It’s good to feel like you’re giving a voice to speak out against an injustice.”
49 Candles appears on best of album: The Special Ones. Being Ausmusic Month, Higgins is following in Crowded House and Paul Kelly’s footsteps with Missy Higgins & Friends Live, a 90-minute concert at Melba Spiegeltent tonight. It will be hosted by Zan Rowe and aired across ABC, iview and Double J radio from 8.40pm this Sunday. It’s her ABC.
WATCH MISSY HIGGINS & FRIENDS LIVE, ABC platforms, Sun, 8.40pm. SEE MISSY HIGGINS, Sidney Myer Music Bowl with JOHN BUTLER TRIO, Feb 7. A Day On the Green, Rutherglen, Feb 9. HEAR THE SPECIAL ONES (Eleven) out now
“I’M ENJOYING BEING A MUM OF A BABY … HOW QUICKLY THAT TIME GOES.“
MISSY HIGGINS WILL TOUR WITH JOHN BUTLER TRIO NEXT YEAR