kids

We speak to Missy Higgins about social media, creativity and how motherhood changes everything.

Missy Higgins burst onto our airwaves in 2004, at just 21 years old. Her debut album The Sound of White soared to number one on the ARIA Albums Chart, and she was nominated for five awards that same year at the ARIA music awards. While touring that album, she wrote another, which saw critical acclaim. She was the envy of every aspiring Australian musician.

I grew up with Missy Higgins. Her concert was my first and her songs were the first downloads on my iPod. I lived through her music. It consoled me through my first break up, and was in the background as I completed art projects. I loved her with the sort of intensity that only exists in adolescence.

To this day I feel privileged that a generation of Australian women were able to grow up with a role model of her calibre. She had integrity. She ignored intrusive and irrelevant questions about her sexuality. She wore what she wanted to wear, and sang about what she felt. I think I probably learned a lot about what it meant to be a woman from Missy Higgins.

Er ma gard, some serious sequinage going on on stage tonight! Glamming it up!

A photo posted by Missy Higgins (@missyhigginsmusic) on

As you can imagine, when I had the chance to interview her, I was really relaxed and professional about it. Like when ‘relaxed’ and ‘professional’ means that you begin with a monologue explaining the intensity of your love for her and how EXCITED you are to be speaking to your life long hero. She took it very well.

On January 5, 2015, Higgins and her partner, Dan Lee, welcomed a baby boy, Sammy Arrow Lee. I wanted to know how her life as a musician had changed since he entered the world.

“Things had to change really,” she said. “It’s been one of those things where I’ve just had to re-think my days and my weeks. Writing now is a matter of planning what days and what times I’m going to be able to be child-free.”

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She explained that before Sammy was born, she had every day to write, but would spend it “procrastinating”.

“This has actually worked in my favour because it’s meant I’ve got to get my act together,” she laughed.

Nashville (read: @butterflyboucher and @casoncooley) you did it again. You brought the awesome.

A photo posted by Missy Higgins (@missyhigginsmusic) on

Higgins has been a notoriously private figure ever since she first entered the music industry.

“The first five or six years I was pretty shocked at the way my life had changed and the amount of people that were interested in my personal life and my love life,” she said. “I’d just clam up and not share anything with anyone because I wasn’t sure what they’d do with the information.”

“I think [after] having Sammy, I had a few people tell me not to post any pictures of him at all, that children have a right not to have their picture on the internet before they have a say in the matter themselves, but I don’t know, I’m a bit more relaxed than that.

“I don’t take pictures of him all the time, but I do have a couple of photos of him [on social media], mostly from the back, so his face isn’t recognised. I wanted to play it safe – just because one day if he does get a little bit weirded-out because people know what he looks like – because of the way I was affected by being recognised.

“I was pretty young at the time and it affected me in a pretty negative way, so it can be pretty hard for a young kid to deal with. So, I guess probably, unconsciously, I’m trying to protect him from that.

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“But at the same time, he’s such a big part of my life, and social media is such these days that you’re encouraged to share your personal life, it seems a little bit dishonest to share some things and not to share the most amazing, important thing that’s happened to me.”

Ma boyz ????

A photo posted by Missy Higgins (@missyhigginsmusic) on

Higgins explained that having Sammy was pretty spontaneous. “We didn’t give it too much forethought to be honest,” she said.

But the experience has changed her in a way she never expected.

“I expected to feel a love like I’ve never felt before because that’s what everybody told me I was going to feel, and it’s exceeded those expectations a thousand times over.

“But you know I didn’t expect it to really rip open my heart in the way that it has, and make me not only feel this incredible love but also feel extremely connected to every other mother on the planet. I feel really able to empathise with every other woman who’s given birth to a child because it’s this incredible thing that connects all of us that you’re only able to relate to once you’ve done it.”

Now that she’s a mother, her connection to music has also changed.

“The things that I’m interested in and the things that are affecting me on an emotional level are different than before,” she said. “I’m not in some tumultuous relationship that’s causing me heartache so I can’t write heartache or breakup songs. That’s a bloody relief to be honest.”

As a mum, she’s realised there’s a huge life for her outside of music. While she still writes, and has a thriving career in the music industry, she says, for the rest of the time she can just relax and not be an artist.

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“I can just be a person. A mum.”

So… Apparently someone’s not a fan of my singing voice

A photo posted by Missy Higgins (@missyhigginsmusic) on


But it’s her interest in human rights and climate change that have been particularly affected by her transition to motherhood.

“[Having a kid] has made me much more attuned to what’s going on in the world, and in turn that makes me think about my responsibility as someone who has brought a new human being into the planet,” she said. “I feel like I have to justify bringing him into this world and that’s really confronting sometimes and I feel really overwhelmed sometimes watching the news and seeing what’s going on.”

I asked her what kind of Australia she wants her son to grow up in. And she focused on two crucial issues: climate change and the refugee crisis.

“They’re both really tied-in with each other because the refugee crisis is only going to get worse with climate change, but for me I’d love to see Australia become a really welcoming place and wake up to how fortunate we are to have been born here.”

“[We need to] enable ourselves to be more sympathetic and empathetic towards those that weren’t so lucky and I think the number one issue is climate change because, you know, there’ll be no humans to deal with any kind of human rights issues if there’s no planet.”

“I’m just really crossing my fingers that we wake up to it in time.”

You can catch Missy Higgins at The Lost Lands at Werribee Park. You can buy tickets here.

THE LOST LANDS:

The Facts 29–30 October

Single-day adult: $99 + booking fee

Two-day adult,: $160 + booking fee

Children: $38/ $45 two days + booking fee

Camping $5 per night + booking fee

Children under 4 y.o free