Kate Miller-Heidke’s ethereal voice makes this empathetic gesture on her new single, This is Not Forever. The sentiment behind the song is simple but weighty, a plea for a loved one to hand over their hurt. The song has taken on even greater meaning during these unusual times we’re all going through and Kate Miller-Heidke speaks to Hi Fi Way about it and what’s next on the horizon.
How you been coping with what’s been very unusual times, particularly for the music industry?
Yeah, it’s kind of up and down a little bit. Generally, it’s been a pretty calm period. I haven’t had this much routine in my life for a long time. There are aspects of that which is quite nice getting lots of family time. The uncertainty is tough though.
Do you find that you get a little bit twitchy some nights, about nine o’clock which would normally the time you would be about to go on stage to play live? Has it felt weird without any touring?
No, in fact I usually feel exhausted at nine o’clock. I’ve got a four-year-old and I’m in strange sleep routine. I would say it’s more like this feeling of slight disconnection. I think maybe a lot of other people are feeling it, not just artists. I miss being in an audience. I realise now that was my way of connecting with my people, my community and it was the thing I use to take me outside myself and nourish my soul. I miss that, I miss live performance.
It will be interesting to see what happens when touring gets the green light and whether people will venture after being so used to staying home?
I think when the threat of getting sick is over people are going to desperately need to connect. It’s been said a lot that the roaring twenties followed the Spanish flu. I think I’m going to probably go a bit nuts when it’s over. While the virus is still out there it’s hard to know.
Have you been using the time to keep writing new songs and being creative or is that a little bit tricky trying to balance the needs of family and being at home?
At first, I felt strangely paralysed. I wasn’t very productive at first. I was compulsively reading the news and as somebody on Twitter said like a deer in headlights except the headlights were my phone. I’m lucky that I’ve actually got some deadlines and some big writing projects happening. I was sort of forced to go back into it and that was definitely a boost for my mental health. I think if I don’t have a project to work on, I’m miserable.
With so many amazing songs it must be a good challenge to have working out what direction to go in next. I know a lot of people are hoping for more of a pop album, but are there any early indications of what you might do with the next album?
It’s done. It’s being mixed at the moment. That’s another bright spot in my day; every few days I get a new mix to listen to. Yeah, it is a pop record. It’s the first time I’ve expanded my network of collaborators. I wrote these songs in a room, sometimes with strangers. I think the result is a sense of spontaneity and often playful, breeziness. These songs came out kind of easily in a way. The writing process was fast and I think that comes through. It is more pop than my previous couple of records. I’m really excited for people to hear it.
Do you working with collaborators no that you have the taste for it is something that you’ll do more of down the track?
Definitely! I think as I get older, I just feel more and more excited by the prospect of collaborating and less scared. I think there is always an element of social anxiety because you’ve got to bear your soul, to a certain degree, when you’re writing a song with someone about real emotions. I feel a bit over that now. I just feel a bit more confident.
Do you find that the ideas actually come a lot quicker when you’ve got someone else to bounce ideas off of and vice versa?
Yeah, way quicker and I don’t get bogged down in my own shit. It can be just way more fun and I love working quickly. My editing brain sometimes dominates too much when I’m by myself. I second guess myself too much and you don’t really have time to do that when you’re in a room with people and you’ve got to come up with a song a day.
The new single, This Is Not Forever is great. Does it seem more relevant now than when you wrote it some time ago?
Yeah, it’s that strange phenomenon of songs, after they seem to be a living organism, sometimes they change meaning depending on the context, which is the magic of music, I suppose. I wrote it about six months ago, about watching someone close to me start to fall into a depression and wanting to let them know that I was there to help if they needed me. In the context of the pandemic, the title and the theme to the song seems to take on added resonance.
Where to next for Kate Miller-Heidke?
I’m currently working on music for a Melbourne theatre company show that’s later in September. So, fingers crossed that goes ahead. My album is coming out in October and there’ll be probably another single or two in the lead up to that. It’s quite busy.
Once the green light happens are you looking to tour?
For sure. I’d love to be able to play all these new songs live, at some stage. It’s just hard to know what form that’ll take yet.
We might see you at the Drive-In or something like that.
Maybe, you never know. I’m not convinced about that but you never know!
Interview By Rob Lyon