Missy Higgins
Picture: Cybele Malinowski

Missy Higgins on sneaking into cemeteries, speaking up and her new album ‘Solastalgia’

Missy Higgins is an Australian icon. After selling over a million albums and earning nine ARIA awards, the Melbourne singer-songwriter has become synonymous with heartfelt love songs.

But her fifth studio album Solastalgia has taken a fresh new direction, incorporating synths and loops with her classic sound. Addressing everything from politics, climate change and the end of the Earth, it’s a 12-track apocalyptic pop masterpiece.

“I wanted to write an album that mixed my older, more folky lyrics-driven songwriting style with a more modern programmed approach,” Higgins tells Music Insight.

It’s been six years since the release of Higgins’ last original album, occupied with other projects such as covers album OZ, single ‘Oh Canada’, writing music for screen and theatre productions, plus trying her hand at acting.

“I didn’t want to write an album until I thought I had something to say and all of a sudden I got really inspired,” she says.

Now married with a three-year-old son and little girl on the way, it seems that time has come.

“Suddenly so aware of my surroundings and aware of the direction the world was going in, and I felt so much responsibility for my child and bringing him into this world, it kind of brought up all these emotions and ended up making me really reflective about it all – the passing of time and the future.”

Higgins is particularly passionate about the world’s refugee crisis, giving a moving response on ABC’s Q&A recently.

“It’s nice to be able to use your platform for some good and not just selling self-indulgent stories about heartache,” she says.

“I don’t want to become one of those celebrities that stands on their soapbox the entire time and pretends they know better than everyone else because that’s not the case at all, but I do feel that if I feel strongly about something I should speak up,” she says.

An Ambassador for Asylum Seekers Resource centres as well as working with the Stop Adani campaign and several environmental rights groups, Higgins has had a passion for environmental and social advocacy from a young age.

“All I want to do is make or encourage people to think about what’s going on around them, because I think it’s so easy to just stay in your own little bubble and pretend that nothing you do will make a difference.

“Ultimately, I just want to keep the conversation going. I think that’s all art can really do. It has to first come from a place of self-expression and the second job it has is to hold a mirror up to society,” she says.

On ‘Solastalgia’, Higgins ventures into darker, more existential territory than she’s done before. She belts out on ‘How Was I To Know’:

‘How was I to know I would be a stepping stone to the end, the end of everything?’

Her apocalyptic fascination isn’t new, though. She has been visiting cemeteries for years.

“I’ve just always been really adventurous and a bit of an explorer and for some reason I got into the habit of finding cemeteries and jumping the fence and going for a walk,” she says.

“There was something really peaceful about it because there was no one else in there with me apart from dead people.”

Ultimately, I just want to keep the conversation going. I think that’s all art can really do. It has to first come from a place of self-expression and the second job it has is to hold a mirror up to society.

‘Cemetery’ combines her cemetery habit with a tumultuous past relationship.

“It almost felt like we couldn’t ever survive as a couple because it was too uncertain and dangerous and exciting and explosive,” Higgins says of the track.

“It was one of those things that kind of felt like you were playing with death while in that relationship,” she said.

Now married to playwright Dan Lee for just over two years, the debut single from the album ‘Futon Couch’ is about falling quickly and deeply in love with him at a friend’s house in Broome. Her most ‘pop’ song to date, the over-the-top dancing in the video could easily be mistaken for a Taylor Swift clip.

“I do love dancing but I’m not very good and I don’t take myself seriously so I wanted it to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, a bit fun.”

Never shying away from a challenge, Higgins recently performed a duet with Ed Sheeran on the final leg of his Australian tour, taking on Beyoncé’s part of love song ‘Perfect’.

“When it came to sing that song I thought, ‘Oh my God, how am I possibly going to follow in Beyoncé’s footsteps?’” says Higgins.

“I love Beyoncé. I think she is absolutely unstoppable and incredible and she can’t really put a foot wrong. I realised quite quickly I just had to do it my own way. All you can do is be yourself,” she says.

‘Solastalgia’ is out now.

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Tour Dates

Fri 4 May
QPAC Concert Hall | Brisbane, QLD                    
(All Ages)
qtix.com.au | Ph: 136 246

Sat 5 May
Empire Theatre | Toowoomba, QLD                     
(All Ages)

empiretheatre.com.au | Ph: 1300 655 299

Sun 6 May
Anita’s Theatre | Wollongong, NSW                     
(All Ages)

ticketmaster.com.au | Ph: 136 100

Tue 8 May
Enmore Theatre | Sydney, NSW                            
(All Ages)

ticketek.com.au | Ph: 132 849

Fri 11 May
Canberra Theatre | Canberra, ACT                                 
(All Ages)

canberraticketing.com.au | Ph: 02 6275 2700

Sat 12 May
Thebarton Theatre | Adelaide, SA                        
(All Ages)

ticketmaster.com.au | Ph: 136 100

Sun 13 May
Palais Theatre | Melbourne, VIC                          
(All Ages)

ticketmaster.com.au | Ph: 136 100

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