Please tell us your story! How did you get to where you are today?

I won triple j Unearthed when I was 17 with my song All For Believing. This kind of got me started. From that I got a record contract with an Australian record company (Eleven: A Music Company) and then a year later I signed with Warner Bros in the US. I owe it to my sister for sending the tape into triple j as I honestly would never have thought of doing that myself!

Tell us about a day in the life of Missy Higgins, what does your day-to-day entail?

I wake up almost every day with my little daughter’s finger poking my eye. I slide groggily out of bed and make her milk and porridge. Make coffee. Go check the chooks, take out the compost. By that time my son is usually waking up and refusing to get out of bed because it’s too cold so I go to his room to coax him out and entice him with porridge. The rest of the day involves a lot of crafting and gluing and strategising how I’m going to return those emails that are in my inbox. On the off chance I can send one of my kids to care (I’m not at the moment because of COVID), I might have a bit of time to write and create music! Gold!!

Give yourself the gift of time before trying to go ‘professional’ because those years are joyful and you’ll never get that innocence back.

What has been your proudest career achievement so far?

I think writing the songs for this ABC drama Total Control has been way up there with my proudest achievements. It’s been the first time I’ve ever written songs for an entire TV series, let alone two seasons.

Who are your role models in the industry, be they international or Australian?

Sarah McLachlan was my first role model, and all the women on Lilith Fair in the ’90s. Sarah was the first woman I saw on a piano singing, she made me feel like I could do it too. She also had short hair which i thought was badass, and one of the reasons I cut off all my own hair. I didn’t want anyone to try to make me into a sexualised pop star.

What’s your favourite thing about the Australian music industry?

I love how down to earth everyone is in the industry. It’s like a family. Because it’s such a small country in compassion to the States or other big countries, we get to see the same faces as we tour each festival circuit over the years, and that’s really lovely.

Every album on the song is inspired by strong women who’ve decided that enough is enough. They’re taking back their power.

Who are your top three ‘artists to watch’?

– Alice Skye
– Ben Abraham
– Hannah Cameron

What advice would you give someone just starting out in music who would like to pursue a career like yours?

I’d say get out there and play as much as possible, even open mic nights. Start a band with your friends and rehearse in your garage. Have fun. Take ages to develop your sound.

I wouldn’t really change anything I did because I’m happy with where i ended up but if I had to choose something it would be that. Give yourself the gift of time before trying to go “professional” because those years are joyful and you’ll never get that innocence back.

What issues/potential issues do you think the current Australian music industry face? Specifically in your realm of work.

Well the last couple of years we’ve faced a lot of challenges with funding. It’s clear the Government does not take our industry as seriously as the sporting industry. The pandemic almost obliterated our industry because of a lack of support, and an unwillingness to work with venue owners to operate in a COVID-safe manner. We still have a ways to go to convince the powers that be that music (and all art) is just as important to our well-being as sport is.

…Learning to say no has been the biggest and hardest lesson to learn.

If you could change one thing in the industry right now, what would it be?

I would provide funding and financial relief for all the small music venues to be able to stay open and support all the young and up-and-coming artists who needs somewhere to cut their teeth.

What is your big picture career goal?

I don’t really have one, other than to just keep going and keep creating. I hope I’ll always feel inspired to make new music and push myself to try different things and move out of my comfort zone. I can’t imagine doing anything else, or retiring, so hopefully I’ll still be doing this at 70!

What is the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?

“You are enough.”

What are you hopes for the next generation of Australian artists?

I hope we continue to be story-tellers and truth-tellers. Our country has such rich and complicated history. There is a lot there and I hope we continue to talk about it and process it together. Art is good for that.

What has been the best gig that you’ve ever seen?

I saw Radiohead at Festival Hall when I was about 15. It was my first concert ever and it completely blew my mind. I was transfixed by Thom Yorke the entire time. I wanted to be him, I wanted to be onstage creating that kind of electrical current that he was creating between him and the audience.

The world feels a little upside down at the moment. I hope we can all help each other through it.

What’s your favourite touring memory?

I loved touring around The States with my 1.5-year-old son about six years ago. My husband and I just rented a car and drove from place to place, or occasionally took a train or plane. We based ourselves in NYC for a little while, while I played shows up and down the East Coast. It was just really sweet, showing Sammy a new country and new places every day. Although to be honest the main things we saw in each city were the playgrounds! But I loved having my family with me.

What are your hopes for 2022?

I can only hope that soon we can finally put this pandemic behind us and the music industry can start to get back on its feet. Everything that’s happening with climate is scary, particularly these floods in NSW and Qld which has been just devastating. I guess I hope maybe this will be the thing that finally opens the eyes of our Government that climate change is here and it cannot be ignored any longer. The world feels a little upside down at the moment. I hope we can all help each other through it.

You’re releasing your mini-album, ‘Total Control’. Can you tell us a bit about it and how it came about?

I was ask to write the song for the ABC drama Total Control. I collaborated with music production duo Sonar for season one and two.

It’s an incredible show with Deb Mailman as the lead, who is such a force. So after two seasons of writing songs for the show I realised I had a whole heaps of unfinished songs, and that’d be a fun project to complete them.

The album ended up being about so much more than the show. At the time Brittany Higgins was standing up in Parliament calling out the sexism women in politics face every day, and later Grace Tame also stood up and told her story. I found that to be so brave and inspiring, watching these young girls be so courageous and so unapologetic about their rage. Every album on the song is inspired by strong women who’ve decided that enough is enough. They’re taking back their power.

Do you have any activities that you do for self-care that are non-negotiable?

I stay away from people when I can, haha! Is being anti-social an activity? Seriously though I’m an introvert at heart so I find that I have to really look after myself and not organise too many social things in between shows, otherwise I use up all my energy.

I also try to keep physically fit, otherwise I just fall apart emotionally.

I hope we continue to be story-tellers and truth-tellers.

How do you make sure you’re looking after yourself when things get really hard?

I’ve had to learn to get better at asking for help, especially with my kids. I used to feel guilty if it wasn’t me looking after them all the time but I’ve come to realise that it’s actually beneficial for them to be minded by other people we’re close to from time to time. Especially my parents. They are incredible and are literally the only reason I can still work while being a mum, I don’t know what I’d do without them.

How firm are you with boundaries between work/life balance and how do you try to enforce them?

I’m not the best at enforcing boundaries, although I am much better than I used to be. I’ve had to get better at saying no, as over the years more and more people have started reaching out for help with this and that, and because it pulls at my heart strings it’s very, very hard saying no, but I have to if I’m going to stay even half sane. So learning to say no has been the biggest and hardest lesson to learn.

Any tips for a quick ‘pick me up’ if you’re having a shitty day?

I go for a run. We live on a hill so sometimes I just run up and down it a few times and it helps so much. My other tip would be, take the path of least resistance, so if you need to put your kids in front of the TV and order pizza in order to get a second to yourself, you should without doubt, do it.

What is your go-to karaoke song?

Killing Me Softly by Roberta Flack, or I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys.

Missy Higgins’ Total Control is out now.