Kate's new album powerful, angelic

Kate Miller-Heidke wrote her latest album, Nightflight, with her husband Keir Nuttall in Toowoomba.
Kate Miller-Heidke wrote her latest album, Nightflight, with her husband Keir Nuttall in Toowoomba. Contributed

KATE Miller-Heidke and myself share something in common. No, it is not are vocal prowess.

Hers is a powerful force filled with both angelic tones and fierce passion where mine is more akin to a cat being strangled.

Nor it is our looks, where she is fair and blonde much like the Dragon Queen from Game and Thrones, while I tend to learn towards the other spectrum which would most likely make me evil were I in an animated Disney movie.

No, what we share is regular occurrences of social awkwardness.

It seems hard to imagine the graceful Miller-Heidke tongue-tied and awkward but she assures me she does, particularly at music industry events.

She is much more comfortable at home with her partner and glass of wine.

Her song Humiliation on her latest album Nightflight, her first solo album in three years, tells of this crippling case of awkwardness.

"It's a song about being socially awkward, and I'm like that all the time. Particularly in music industry schmoozy things, which neither Keir nor I deal with very well.

"It's just so full of artifice, but look: I have good days and bad days," she explained.

"I also think it's the fact Keir and I have spent the last eight years in the same room together; it's really not healthy.

You forget how to speak to other people, because you develop this strange language between the two of you, and it's quite exclusive, in that it excludes other people."

Now get two people prone to awkwardness in a one conversation and well you can imagine the results, pits of awkward pepper the interview.
Her most awkward moment she tells me happened just the other week after a gig in Adelaide.

"I saw Adam Hills at the table next to me. I went up to him and said 'hi it's Kate, do you remember me from Spicks and Specks?'

"He just got up and said 'I'm Wil Anderson'."

Nightflight has a strong focus on narrative and storytelling, much more so that Miller-Heidke's previous releases.

Each is beautifully constructed and almost like a collection of stories in an anthology.

Themes of longing, homesickness, mortality, love and nostalgia make up the tapestry of the album.

It is a times incredibly personal, and filled with such emotion you can't help be drawn in.

Miller-Heidke wrote the record during a period where she and Keir where living in his grandparents house in Toowoomba.

They had just passed away and the house hadn't been sold yet and so the two shut themselves away from the world for a few months.

Miller-Heidke describes the experience as both isolating but creatively rich.

"It was full of all these other people's things and it was quite a strange experience."

They were also there during the floods and cut off from the world.

"We weren't directly affected but we weren't able to leave, it was scary.

"I guess there are themes of mortality running though the record that and drunkenness. It's a reflection of how I was feeling.

"My favourite songs are about yearning."

As well as her own experience Miller-Heidke borrows from those of her friends.

In Sarah she sings a haunting tale that happened to one of her best friends at school.

"The story's told from her point of view.

"In Grade 9, her friend went missing at a music festival and two weeks later, just turned up at her parents' house with no memory of where she had been.

"My friend was never allowed to see her again, because everybody blamed her.

"To this day, my friend doesn't know what happened, because her parents broke off contact.

"My friend and I had a sleepover in Grade 10, and she told this story to me over several hours while we were lying in our beds with our lights off. I've never forgotten it. It was a story that has always haunted me," she said.

Other times her friends have been less than enthused to make the album.

On I'll Change Your Mind she sings of love song with a difference, its basically a song about a woman stalking her ex, hoping he will change his mind.

"She's quite pissed off with me actually," Miller-Heidke says with a lilting laugh.

"It's dangerous to be friends with a song writer."

The same could be said of a journalist, Miller-Heidke and I have in common.

Nightflight is out now.

Topics:  kate miller-heidke

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