INTERVIEW: Kate Miller-Heidke

Published on, Mar 2018

Back To Basics: Kate Miller-Heidke Is Excited To Just Be A Singer-Songwriter Again

After a whirlwind few years, Kate Miller-Heidke tells Daniel Cribb she just wants to get back to basics.

Even in the middle of a much-needed family vacation, eclectic singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke is on the clock. “We’re just getting our lives back on track now,” she begins from a beach on the North Coast of New South Wales.

She’s with her long-time musical collaborator and husband, Keir Nuttall, and their new son, Ernie, trying to unwind after a chaotic couple years. Up until November of last year, the duo had been tirelessly working on Muriel’s Wedding The Musical, penning the lyrics and music for the acclaimed hit. “We were just so surprised at how hollow and empty we felt after opening night,” she tells. “The theatre is so intense and so exhilarating and I was doing long hours towards the end.

“Both Keir and I were feeling extremely burnt out and struggled at the end of that… it as such an intense experience, so we’re just gradually climbing out of that hole.

Since the November opening night, Miller-Heidke has been touring with a string quartet, breathing new life into classics and new hits. “I needed to reconnect with my audiences and sing my own songs,” she says.

A lot has happened since the release of her fourth studio album, O Vertigo!, in 2014, including a role on Australian comedy opera miniseries The Divorce and being a key player in the 2015 stage production of The Rabbits. “What I’m feeling strongly now about the next record – although it’s super early days – is that I really just want to strip it back to basics and do something a bit closer to my folky roots,” she reveals. “Just go super acoustic with a focus on the singing and nothing else; just being a singer-songwriter again.”

It’s a complete change of pace from Miller-Heidke’s 2014 record, which featured heavy vocal layering. “It was a pop record in most senses of the word, and then the album I put out last year, Live At The Sydney Opera House, captures that orchestral vibe better than I ever anticipated and I’m quite proud of that album and how it came out, so I’m feeling the pull to react against that a little bit.”

Given her past in theatre and opera influences, it’s no surprise that she’s is always looking for visual ways to elevate her live shows, and her upcoming shows at Melbourne Zoo and Taronga Zoo Sydney are prime examples of that. “Every tour has to be different,” she says. “I’m looking also looking forward to getting out to some of these regional places and some of these beautiful theatres that we have in regional Australia.”

“The way [live music] can affect your mood can be kind of magical almost. I’m a rational atheist-type person, but the power of music to me seems to be the closest we get to a supernatural experience.

“It can just remind you of the point of living, which is so easy to forget, especially as you get older and get stuck in the day to day routine. I think it can realign you with what really matters in your life.”