Kate Miller-Heidke was recently swept into the bowels of a Los Angeles recording studio where she was forced to sing her way through a string of weird and wonderful tracks in preparation for the release of her second album.
The woman, whose debut album Little Eve garnered a mass of ARIA nominations and a gaggle of loyal fans along the way, survived the ordeal and has produced, she thinks, an album that emits a newfound depth.
The ballsy platinum blonde Queenslander is far from the traditional pop princess. She is daring in terms of both sound and style. She swears, takes inspiration from opera and death metal music and loves pushing musical boundaries.
Some have called her kooky, others brave, and quirky is an adjective that gets tossed around more times than Miller-Heidke cares to hear.
But no matter what misguided label you attempt to stick to her, the only one that deserves to be there is unique. And that is a label she has explored on her new album, Curiouser, on which she collaborated with Mickey Petralia.
It was never one of my plans. It seems the cliched route that pop stars take. But the band went there to work with the producer because he had heard our demos and really liked them and that’s where he is based, Miller-Heidke told Sydney Star Observer.
I was a bit nervous before we met, but he ended up being an incredible genius, but a total eccentric LA weirdo as well. He liked to work from 4pm to 4am each day … that was totally exhausting and we didn’t have a day off.
We had no songs. We mapped out how we wanted the album to sound -” the aesthetic, the spirit of it. We wanted to exploit everything that’s unique about my music. Miller-Heidke said she gained more of a perspective on life as a result of her American visit, and felt freer to make music that was fearless and fun.
It feels like in America, as a generalisation, anything that’s different is totally encouraged. Sometimes in Australia there is a bit of a cringe factor, but Mickey really encouraged my operatic thing, she said.
I think I do look at the world and see how absurd it is in a lot of ways -” my lyrics come from that perspective, trying to shed light on how ridiculous a lot of things are in the world.
Curiouser takes a more commedia, musical theatre approach to music than Little Eve. It moves effortlessly from a daring mash-up of primal precision and eighties synth squiggles to operatic interjections and songs with lucid emotion.
It’s definitely more joyous and pop, Miller-Heidke said.
I went into this album with a visual, which I didn’t have with Little Eve. I knew what I wanted to do and I was inspired by artists like Queen and Cindy Lauper.
I had criteria for the songs on this album. They had to be funny and witty or heartfelt, moving and honest. But if the song didn’t fit it wasn’t put on the album.
info: Miller-Heidke will play at The Famous Spiegeltent at the Sydney Opera House on Friday, 24 October. Tickets start at $29. Bookings: 9250 7777 or www.sydneyoperahouse.com. She will also play the Metro on Saturday, 22 November. Tickets start at $20. Bookings: 9550 3666 or on www.metrotheatre.com.au. Curiouser is released on October 18. Details: www.katemillerheidke.com.