Openly gay US chanteuse Holly Miranda’s first Australian tour next month will include a stint as part of Sydney’s Vivid Festival, guest curated by legendary art-rock couple Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson.
Miranda is one of a handful of diverse musical acts from around the world to have been handpicked by the pair.
“They invited me. I’ve never met either of them, but apparently they liked the record,” the softly-spoken singer told Sydney Star Observer.
In a recent interview, the famously gruff Reed admitted he’d chosen most of the musical artists for Vivid on the strength of their recorded work, not yet having seen them live. How would Miranda cope with having Reed sitting in the front row of her show, sizing her up?
“Well, now I’m nervous! It’s just going to be me coming over, not my whole band, so there’s only so much that could possibly go wrong when it’s just my own two hands,” she laughed nervously.
Miranda’s path to the kind of ‘overnight success’ that’s seen her name-dropped by Kanye West and Scarlett Johansson has been long and, at times, dangerous.
She dropped out of high school in Detroit at 16 and moved to New York to pursue a record deal. Somehow, she ended up with a shelved album that had been partly financed by underworld figures. She went into hiding after receiving death threats from those who wanted a return on their ‘investment’.
“I hope [the record] never sees the light of day — I can’t imagine what it would sound like now. I definitely learned a lot about what I didn’t want, and the people I shouldn’t go through. I felt completely out of control… it was scary.”
Some 11 years later, her second solo album, The Magician’s Private Library, is poised to be her breakthrough. Miranda has already begun touring the record, supporting friends Tegan and Sara on a cross-American jaunt.
“We felt like a big family by the end,” she said.
Miranda has previously voiced her discomfort about making her sexuality the focus of her public image. Did she take any tips from the Quin twins, both openly gay artists?
“Yeah, we definitely had a few discussions about that on tour. They don’t seem to wear it on their sleeve. It’s just a part of who they are, and as far as I’m aware, they’ve never hidden it.”
And neither has she, something of a bold move for a woman who grew up in a deeply religious household in which secular music was banned and the Smurfs were deemed ‘demonic’.
“Well it has been a long journey, but I came out to my parents 11 years ago. I really respect a lot of the values they brought me up with … but not all of them.”
info: Holly Miranda performs at the
Sydney Opera House on June 2 and 4.