Kate Miller-Heidke is an independent singer-songwriter and actress, originally from Brisbane. Although classically trained at the Queensland Conservatorium, she has followed a career in alternative pop music. She has released 4 albums in Australia, achieving multi-platinum status and appeared in the top 10 album and singles charts numerous times. Her album O Vertigo! debuted at number 4 on the Australian album charts, broke Australian crowdfunding records and was nominated for an ARIA award. Her previous albums include Nightflight, which reached number 2 on the ARIA chart, and Curiouser, which reached double platinum sales in Australia and spawned the multi-platinum hits ‘Last Day On Earth’ and ‘Caught In The Crowd’. She has performed several roles for the English National Opera and in Jerry Springer The Opera at the Sydney Opera House. Her debut opera as a composer The Rabbits (based on the book by Shaun Tan and John Marsden), was commissioned by Opera Australia and premiered at the Perth Festival in February 2015, followed by sold out seasons in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. It won 4 Helpmann Awards including Best Score and Best New Australian Work. Kate has been widely praised for her unique ability to combine moving, heartfelt songs and laugh out loud humor. As Sydney Symphony Orchestra states, “If you’ve seen The Rabbits – or any performance by Kate Miller-Heidke – you’ll know what an amazingly versatile musician and gifted creator she is. In her own words, The Rabbits is “an opera / musical / song-cycle / weird pop concert / puppet show / art-play.” Phew! She’s classically trained, yet her style crosses contemporary pop, folk and opera. Her songs are stamped with witty humor and poignant insight – always touching.” We chatted to Kate amidst a busy day of media and promotion for her upcoming shows at the Sydney Opera House, check it out below!
How did you get your start in the music industry?
It’s hard to narrow it down to one particular thing, I go straight to when Triple J started playing a song from my first EP Little Eve, a little EP that I recorded very cheaply at University with friends and Yanto Browning. So it was through that that I got a manager and an agent, and things really reached another level. Being played on national radio really helps too, before that I was just getting my name around Brisbane, but I would have found it impossible to tour without that.
What advice do you have for someone about to embark on their first tour?
Certain venues have a reputation for being really artist-friendly, that have invested in sound systems and great in house people often have an in built audience as well. Playing those sort of venues is always a treat, places like Black Bear Lodge in Brisbane and Northeast Social Club… but it is hard to get a gig there at first. For me, I remember always consciously trying to give my best performance no matter how many people we were playing to, 7 or 8 people in butt fuck nowhere. You never know who is going to be in the audience.
What advice do you have for new artists?
Get a manager! Get a really good manager.
What is the biggest barrier or challenge you have faced in your career?
I could talk about being a woman, which is something that resonates for me. But I think I had a problem historically with saying no to things, and sometimes getting so busy that I would start burning out. Ultimately we need to remember that we’re artists and we need time and space to let our minds wander, everyone needs that in order to create.
What is the most important issue facing the music industry today?
I’m not an expert in the industry, and things have been getting a lot better than they have in recent years. I think the success of Spotify has really given all the labels a lot of optimism and they’re really kind of adapting in a way that they resisted for a long time. The challenge will be to continue to be adaptable and anticipate what’s going to happen next because there will always be something else.
What is a song writing challenge that you have encountered?
I’ve been creatively blocked before and I read a great book by Julia Cameron called The Artist’s Way, so I highly recommend that for creative block.
What would your advice be for emerging artists looking at spending money on a PR Campaign?
Only if you have a bunch of other things going on as well. There’s no point throwing money at PR if you have nothing else going on.
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