INTERVIEW: Kate Miller-Heidke

Published in The Music (QLD) and on, Dec 2014



Performing in a New York theatre with protesters being arrested mid-show as well as smoke-filled European venues, Kate Miller-Heidke’s had an interesting six months. Daniel Cribb gets all the details.

“I haven’t really been home in about six months or something, so I’m kind of dazzled by the Melbourne sunlight,” a jet-lagged yet spritely Kate Miller-Heidke begins. She’s travelled the world since her last Australian tour in support of latest album, O Vertigo!, early in 2014, and seen more than most would in several years. Miller-Heidke’s first destination in her mission to dominate the globe was New York City, where she performed in the Metropolitan Opera’s The Death Of Klinghoffer. An international operatic theatre experience isn’t anything new for the Brisbane singer, but the controversy surrounding it was.
“[On] opening night, there was a little bit of fear, because there was NYPD swarming around and the whole building was cordoned off because of the protesters outside and people were coming in to disrupt the show. We had people come into the theatre with smoke bombs and people getting arrested during performances. It was very electric.
“It’s not a life that I’d choose for myself full-time, but getting to dip one toe in it every now and then – especially if it’s a challenging and interesting project – is something I feel very lucky about. There’s something about a show coming together and how impermanent it is, you know. You put all this work in and then a few weeks later it’s gone forever, and there’s something I really love about that.” From there, it was across the ocean for a “crazy” European tour. “We had big drives every day, and played seven different countries in eight nights to start off with. People still smoke in venues there, which was kind of a shock. It was amazing that night in Vienna thinking, ‘Fuck, ten years ago in Australia venues would have been like this.’ It was pretty gross.”
With O Vertigo! getting a European release early in the New Year, it won’t be long before Miller-Heidke’s living abroad again, but not before returning Woodford Folk Festival. “It’s one of my favourites. I started off going as a punter when I was a teenager and they were the first people to ever give me a proper gig, and it was hugely influential for me growing up, listening to all those folk bands and all kinds of musicians that they have there, it represents utopia for me.”
All the worldly experiences garnered while away from home are set to make Miller-Heidke’s fifth album a step up. “I think the next record is going to be a bit more experimental. I think living in New York, in that time I sort of started to get into this new Brooklyn scene that’s happening with classical musicians doing really cool, weird pop-influenced stuff. It’s kind of just a general new direction for classical music, and it’s something that’s exciting me quite a bit.”