TUNED IN to Missy Higgins

January 28, 2010 9:40:57 AM PST
Our feature Tuned In artist this week is Warner Brother/Reprise Records recording artist Missy Higgins. She is a singer songwriter from Australia. Her well written lyrics and an upbeat sound, has earned her critical acclaim from the music industry. Her energetic performances have earned her praise from millions of fans world wide. We caught up with her during a sold out show at The TLA on South street.

Here is her biography

Passionate and sincere, Australian singer-songwriter Missy Higgins is a welcome relief in a music landscape littered with disposable pop. The 25-year-old Melbourne native has enjoyed phenomenal success in her homeland and is now enjoying a rapidly growing fan base in the U.S. despite ? or perhaps precisely because of ? the way she shuns synthetic packaging and tabloid tackiness.

Instead of adopting the usual modern pop moves, Missy has adopted a more timeless approach, relying on a lush voice, intimate songs, and her compelling live presence to forge a genuine connection with her audience. She spent 2008 touring the U.S. almost non-stop--including stints supporting Ben Folds and the Indigo Girls--turning gig-goers into believers across nearly 200 performances last year alone. On the back of all those shows her latest album, On A Clear Night, is now finally getting the attention it deserves. It has also spawned her first bonafide Stateside hit, "Where I Stood," which recently hit the Top 10 at AC radio almost a year after its initial release. The aching ballad has sold more than 150,000 digital copies after being featured in multiple TV shows, including Grey's Anatomy, NCIS, The Hills, Lipstick Jungle, Smallville, One Tree Hill and Friday Night Lights. Other tracks have also been embraced by film and television, including "Warm Whispers" on the TV shows Brothers & Sisters and Privileged as well as the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, while "Steer" is featured in MTV's The City and the film New in Town. Throw in Top 20 success at VH1 plus personal appearances on major programs like "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" and it all adds up to a slow burning success story for a rare and real artist.

On A Clear Night retains the irresistible melodies and piercing lyrics of Higgins' critically lauded debut The Sound of White, which was Australia's best-selling album of 2005. Tthis time around the tracks benefit from the empathetic production of Mitchell Froom, who is known for his work with Paul McCartney, Elvis Costello, and Crowded House. The quiet strength of the new songs reflects Higgins' newfound confidence and changing worldview. She is a major star in Australia-- having twice won that country's equivalent of a Grammy as "Best Female Artist" and recently filming her first motion picture alongside Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush. In short, Higgins has grown up in public, and On A Clear Night is the diary she's kept along the way.

"The album hopefully reflects where I'm at right now," Higgins says. "I feel a lot clearer about who I am and what I want to be doing with my music. I've moved on from the confusion and self-doubt I felt when I was just starting out. That's the main difference between the old songs and the new ones."

Higgins began her music career singing standards with her older brother's band when she was just 13. She was thrust into the Australian limelight while still at high school in 2001 when she won a national songwriting competition run by an influential national alternative-radio network. Instead of capitalizing on the moment, she chose instead to backpack around Europe before returning home and releasing an eponymous EP that topped the local indie charts in late 2003. Airplay on Los Angeles tastemaker station KCRW soon led to a Stateside deal with Reprise Records. The following year, she released the Scar EP in Australia, which entered that country's charts at Number One, followed by the best-selling Sound of White, which was released internationally later that year. Higgins made repeated trips to the US and UK, opening for the likes of Ray Lamontagne, The Finn Brothers, and Howie Day.

An environmentally conscious person who was named one of Billboard magazine's Top 10 Green Artists in 2007, Higgins travels in a bio-diesel bus. She has been profiled by the United Nations for her eco-initiatives, featured prominently in 2007's "Live Earth" event and filmed a PSA for The Sierra Club's website.

A creature of the road, Higgins likes to write songs while on tour, so while traveling the world in support of The Sound Of White, she penned many of the tunes that would comprise On A Clear Night, and gradually honed them through live performances. The pissed-off "Peachy" was among the first to work its way into Higgins' set. The equally energetic (and only slightly less feisty) "100 Round The Bends" also became a fan favorite through repeated live airings.

"Unlike nearly all the songs on the first album, both of those songs were written on guitar, which is the only instrument I've got with me on the bus," Higgins says. "So the songs I write that way tend to be a bit more 'up' while playing the piano usually inspires slow songs. Maybe that's why there's a bit more energy on this album compared to the last one ? I didn't spend as much time sitting around at home playing the piano." The new disc does feature some beautiful keyboard-driven ballads, such as "Sugarcane" and "Where I Stood," but this time they're evenly balanced by the more up-tempo tracks.

Recording for On A Clear Night commenced at Mitchell Froom's home studio in Los Angeles in early September 2006. Over the next three months, tracking proceeded with a stellar lineup of musicians including former touring compadre Neil Finn, who was roped in to provide extra guitars on "Peachy" and backing vocals on the rustic "Going North." The opening track, "Where I Stood," showcases both the tasteful restraint and the lyrical maturity that are the album's trademarks, while the sass and swagger of Higgins' personal favorite track ? "The Wrong Girl" ? is clearly the work of a more self-confident songwriter. The first single, "Steer," is, in many ways, the album's statement of intent. An infectious and uplifting piece about seizing control of your life, it sums up the disc's outlook. A line from its chorus led to the title of On A Clear Night. "It was inspired by a realization I had one night on the beach, looking up at this amazingly clear sky above me," Higgins recalls. "It dawned on me how small we are, how short life is, and how ridiculous it therefore is to spend any of it feeling unfulfilled. I felt so liberated to have finally figured that out, and the song 'Steer' just kind of fell out of that moment."

This sense that 'anything's possible' isn't confined to the lyrics; it also extends to the musical departures on the album. "Warm Whispers" employs unusual structures and atmospheric loops; there's an acoustic string band treatment of "Angela," while the haunting "Secret" is written around just three notes played on one string of the guitar. They're the kind of subtle and surprising twists that sustain listener interest over the course of the album.

"I wanted this album to seem really simple when you first listen to it but then the more you play it, the more you discover," Higgins says. "There are lots of little instrumental textures and things that you only notice after a few spins so hopefully people will feel like it's one of those albums that's worth playing a few times."

Please enjoy the performance video from her show at The TLA on South street

You are now Tuned In to Missy Higgins

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