Kate Miller-Heidke’s latest album redefines the boundaries of pop music and she has her fans to thank for making it a reality.
Singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke has such a devoted fan base that when she asked them to support her latest album it took all of three days to fund the recording, making it the fastest and most successful crowdfunded campaign by an Australian artist.
She split from Sony amicably last year and once free to enjoy complete artistic freedom, wrote most of the tracks to O’Vertigo here in Brisbane while living in an art deco apartment at Kangaroo Point.
“I actually wrote a lot of the album walking around the river, walking along South Bank and up along the Story Bridge and I’d sing into my iPhone voice memo App like a crazy person getting lots of strange looks,” she says.
Miller-Heidke’s probably used to a lot of strange looks by now. Her incredible vocal range has attracted attention since her days at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music.
“I suppose I’ve always loved playing around with the extremities of my voice,” she says.
O’Vertigo is her fourth studio album, but her first independent release. Her 2012 album Nightflight debuted at number two on the ARIA charts and Little Eve and Curiouser achieved gold and double platinum sales.
Even if you don’t know all her albums you’d know the song that was the third most-played track on Australian radio in 2009; the haunting Last Day on Earth.
O’Vertigo pushes Miller-Heidke’s voice further, into unchartered vocal terrain. The decision to ask fans to fund the album was also new territory for the singer.
“I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I got. The fact that thousands of fans had enough faith in the album to buy it before they’d even heard it, well I didn’t want to disappoint them but at the same time I got confidence from that as well.”
Miller-Heidke got creative with the process of asking for donations, offering to give happy birthday phone calls, free tickets to her shows for life and even sell the Wurlitzer piano she used in that Kangaroo Point apartment to help write the material for O’Vertigo.
“I just thought about what I’d like to buy if I were pledging for the record. It was fun thinking of things that had never been available before,” she says.
“The birthday phone calls have been such a joyous thing. I think I am going to keep offering it via my website because it’s so much fun.
“This level of access, of fans to me and vice versa, is unprecedented and really rewarding for me.”
The singer has just finished a national tour. Her next project is writing and possibly starring in an opera for Opera Australia, which is expected to debut next year.
“To be able to write songs from the perspective of different characters, that’s been a mind-expanding thing for me and something I’d like to do more of.”
Kate Miller-Heidke is the fifth candidate in the 2014 bmag Brisbane Person of the Year Awards. She plays the QPAC Concert Hall on Friday August 8. For more info, visit our event guide.