Interview With Missy Higgins

Now halfway through her
American tour, openly bisexual Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins is
selling out venues. Her new album, On a
Clear Night
, has become a top album on the Billboard Heatseekers chart,
where it peaked at 29, and her single “Where I Stood” was featured
last fall on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy.

Higgins remains somewhat under the radar in the United
States, but she’s been well-known in her home down under since she was 18. She has released three full-length albums and won
several ARIAS (the Australian equivalent to Grammys), which led her to sign a
major label deal with Warner Brothers.

Whether you heard about her
through that Grey’s Anatomy episode
or you read about her coming out last year as “not so straight” in
the Australian lesbian magazine Cherie,
Higgins deserves your attention. She recently talked with about
coming out, moving to the West Coast, and her song “Secret,” that
references a same-sex relationship. You actually recorded this album in 2006 right?
Missy Higgins: Yeah. I mean, some of
the songs are quite old, relatively old. I wrote the song “100 Round the
Bends” a while ago when I was recording my first album. That’s very old,
that song.

I guess the rest was kind
of written while I was on tour for the first album, and the second half was
written when I went to … this little country town in Western Australia by the beach. So I wrote
about half the album there.

AE: Is it weird now to
be playing these songs like they are new material for people who haven’t heard
it before?
Yeah, it’s cool though. When people are
hearing your songs for the first time, you can’t help but see it as refreshing,
hearing it through their ears, which is great.

AE: You had a different
single here than you did in Australia.
Was that your decision?
It wasn’t really my decision. The
record label thought “Where I Stood” would be good for American
radio. I guess “Where I Stood” is more cinematic [than “Steer”]
too, and so they probably were thinking that they could get it in TV shows,
films and stuff. Over here [in the United States] that’s such a
massive way of entering the market.

AE: I recently
interviewed Sia and she was
talking about how she had been on Grey’s
and how much that helped her popularity. I’m sure you’re feeling
that same effect right now — like it can only be a positive thing, whereas some
people used to look at it as not so positive, attaching yourself to something
like that.
I think there used to be — definitely
in Australia
— a stigma for having your songs on any TV show or attached to a product. But I
think now the industry has changed so much that it’s just one way you can get
exposed. There are a lot of record labels sort of shelling all this money into
mindless music and getting that on the radio and that kind of thing, so to be
able to get noticed, you have to try other things like getting on TV shows.

AE: Well, it’s nice because
you know someone is watching Grey’s
, and they hear your song and they think, “I gotta know what
this song is!”
Yeah, it’s not like they’d look it
up if they didn’t like it! A lot of them go to the website after.

Watch the video of “Where I Stood”:

AE: Are there any shows
that you think you wouldn’t want to be associated with?
I just don’t like reality TV shows
much. I just think that would be a little bit demeaning to be on one of those