DIG Interview: Missy Higgins

BY: MIKE RINCON

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One person in the music business who knows what the power of word of mouth can do for an up-and-coming star is Missy Higgins. A superstar in her hometown of Melbourne Australia, this sassy and confident singer's blend of melodic pop, folk and indie music has already left its mark in her country with her full-length debut, "The Sound of White," which became Australia's best-selling album of 2005. DIG caught up with Higgins as she was in her temporary apartment living in Los Angeles, Calif.With her latest release on Reprise Records, "On a Clear Night," hitting the states, Higgins, 25, is reaping the benefits of the album's first single, "Where I Stood," which has already sold 150,000 digital copies after being featured on multiple TV shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "The Hills," "Smallville" and "One Tree Hill" among others. Though this would seem like a huge accomplishment for an aspiring musician, Higgins is just getting started. She is currently on a headlining tour in support of her new album with Justin Nozuka and Lenka. Higgins' path is the result of utter perseverance, hard work and faith that music can stand on its own and open enough people's ears.

Beginning her musical journey at a very early year, Higgins developed her talent rather quickly.

"I think I realized I wanted to sing when I had my first experience in front of an audience, which was at the age of about 12 or 13," Higgins said. "I was in a school musical play called Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I had my first solo in front of a live audience, and I remember having a microphone in my hand and the spotlight and being in my absolute element and feeling locked in with the music."

From there, the Australian songstress began waxing her fingers around the piano and guitar until her talent began to flourish. She released her debut EP in 2003 and then the "Scar" EP came out a year later. It was during this time when her music led to a stateside deal with Reprise Records.

After her full-length debut, "The Sound of White," was released and tours with Howie Day and Ray Lamontagne had broadened her fan base, it was time to begin writing her second album. Higgins enlisted the production duties of Mitchell Froom (Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam) and recorded in his Los Angeles home studio. What was born was "On A Clear Night."

"I was writing songs from the moment I finished my first album to when I was in the studio recording "On a Clear Night," so it took a couple of years. But when I specifically took time to write for it, it was about five months. The rest of the songs I wrote on tour," Higgins said.

Aside from having more confidence in the writing process, Higgins admits it was different and a little more satisfying, "The process was different because I already entered into the whole mechanics of the industry and I knew how it worked, and I knew that these songs could potentially be heard by a lot of people, whereas when I was writing for the first album, I didn't know if I was even going to play them for my family let alone thousands of Australians. So there's always that little hindrance in the back of your head, and it's a bit of an obstacle. I also was inspired by idea of the fans being excited to hear these songs which served as a driving force as well."

Higgins' singles have been "Steer," "Where I Stood" and the latest, "Peachy. But she isn't quick to say which one is her favorite. "I don't have a favorite song really," Higgins said. "It usually changes and it depends on how my band and I are playing the song live at that moment."

For now, Higgins is focusing on her 2009 tour and continuing the success she has enjoyed. But unlike a lot of famous up-and-coming musicians, Higgins gets to be inspired by her unique and fortunate Australian surrounding.

"I've written most of my songs in Australia and then some in America and on tour," Higgins said. "On my last album, I spent a lot of time in a little country town in West Australia. It's a little desert country town on the beach. And I spent a lot of time there on my own writing for this album and staring up at the stars at night and contemplating the bigger questions. And it was amazing to be amongst such rugged country side. It was so far away from the city and I think you can find a lot of answers there.