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Missy Higgins
Last month we brought you exclusive interviews with hot young artists Mario and Lucie Silvas. This month we bring you the third member of our special feature The Young Ones (April 2005 issue) - Aussie singing sensation Missy Higgins. The 21-year-old comes highly recommended by us, and if that's not good enough, you should know that her debut album, The Sound Of White, is already five-times platinum and the day we interviewed her, the album had just re-claimed the number one position on the charts! Read our exclusive interview to learn more.

The most striking thing about Australian newcomer Missy Higgins is her big singing voice. It brings to mind words like 'husky' and 'throaty' and, paradoxically, fills the entire room in a quietly intimate way. When she calls to talk to us (she's on tour in the UK), her speaking voice is soft-spoken and mellow and yet the entire room stops to listen.

Spellbound audiences have become a fixture on this singer-songwriter's live shows and like it is with all good artists, this comes as a reaction purely to the music. Her thirteen-track debut album features a collection of exquisite songs covering a variety of moods and sounds all brought together by a core thread of pure authenticity. Says Missy, “I guess honesty in front of anything [is what I, as an artist, am about]. And I guess I try to represent that in my music and in my lyrics. Above anything I try not to pretend that I'm anyone that I'm not, or any better than I am, or any more intelligent than I am, or anymore musical than I am…”

The approach is seriously working. The critical praise for her album is virtually unanimous and the fans have embraced the music that comes essentially from a humble place, both symbolically and literally speaking - most of the songs were written in a bedroom at Missy's parents' house.

The reaction has surprised even Missy. She says, “I think the most reaction I've got is to a song called The Special Two. I was in my bedroom at my parents house [which is a shed actually that had been renovated into a bedroom]. It's outside my garden and I was just in remorse actually when I wrote that song. I had done something wrong that I felt very remorseful about and that song was a form of therapy for me. I had to write a song about it and I had to give that song to this person as a form of apology. I'm just surprised at how many people have come up to me and said that it is their song with their boyfriend or their girlfriend it's their couple song. Every time they hear it they think of their loved one. I'm just surprised at how many people took that song and made it their own.”

While her songs may be home-spun, their universality would have been impossible to manufacture from the confines of her bedroom. After she won her first ever singing competition Missy pushed aside recording contracts and took off to backpack around Europe. She explains, “I think in a way I grew up a lot over there. I matured a lot. I was able to get a bigger perspective on the world and on my life and the music industry and everything. In that way it affected who I was as a person, it made me grow up a lot which in effect made my songs more mature.” Mature yes, perfect no. She laughs and admits that she still has a few cringe-worthy moments as she looks back at her work, “Everything that I've ever written I look back and say 'Oh why did I write that?' You know the song All For Believing was the first track on the album and I wrote that when I was fifteen. I look at it sometimes and think 'Oh that's such a cheesy line', but at the same time I think it's one of the most beautiful songs I've ever written because it's so innocent you know.”

In a sense Missy is a fractal in the larger musical landscape of the day; troubadours in a troubled world, Ireland's Damien Rice, America's Howie Day, Jack Johnson and Amos Lee, Britain's David Gray, and of course, Australia's Missy Higgins are drawing in larger audiences with their heart-felt odes to love and life. Missy has an insider's perspective, “I think there's a really good movement going on at the moment towards the singer-songwriter kind of music. I think there's a general move from the public towards something they can really grasp and feel like they can own it and relate to it. It feels almost like, since September 11, everyone got shook up a bit and people now want something that can make them really feel rather than something that they can switch off to. I think people want to appreciate the beauty and emotion in life.”

You can read the rest of our exclusive with Missy Higgins in the June 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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