Kate Miller-Heidke plays 2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Kate Miller-Heidke defies every musical mould; this Aussie alternative pop singer-songwriter plays a mean Nord keyboard and totes an acoustic guitar as a classically trained Queensland Conservatorium and QUT Masters graduate, moonlighting in her dreams as a frustrated cabaret performer.
Alongside her partner-in-crime, fellow Brisbane-bred guitarist/ singer/ songwriter Keir Nuttal, it’s quite the varied career when you can simultaneously tuck a performance for the New York Metropolitan Opera and a Coachella gig under your belt, bringing 'Muriel’s Wedding' to musical stages and representing Australia in Tel Aviv for the Eurovision Song Contest 2019 while getting ready to perform at the 2019 Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
Appearing with Keir – fresh from their success with 'Muriel’s Wedding: The Musical' – with music genius Iain Grandage and a string quartet on the Adelaide Cabaret Festival stage, they will perform new arrangements of Kate’s most-beloved material, plus a sneak preview of brand-spanking new songs.
Is she still the frustrated cabaret performer? “I don’t feel like I’m frustrated as a performer in any way,” Kate laughingly refutes.
“The truth is, I never felt embraced by mainstream music or triple j.” - Kate Miller-Heidke
“I did try to repress that side of myself for a long time, trying to please other people in fitting the commercial pop mould. But in the end, it wasn’t worth it.
“I’ve gone through those moments of feeling stressed out,” Kate acknowledges, “but ultimately, I come back to the fact I am experienced as a performer and feel more secure as an artist and as a person.
“I also feel able to not take on things personally – and resist the temptation to search my name on Twitter.
“In the end, getting to do amazing things like composing operas and a musical and being in theatre shows and having a career as a songwriter – all that stuff ultimately has strengthened my voice as an artist. I can’t imagine it any other way now,” Kate notes.
“I’ve gone through periods of feeling frustrated and sad at not being given the easy route. But ultimately, there’s nothing to regret; I only think of my limits and ambitions in terms of creative goals.”
For KMH, her performance of her song 'Zero Gravity' at Eurovision in all its Met-Gala-Ball-Heavenly-Bodies references will forever remain an extraordinary career highlight – particularly as the content of the song itself continues the discussion on post-natal depression and losing identity while regaining strength, clarity and drive in the face of subjection.
It’s very easy to forget public perception is very real and implacable to face.
It’s certainly something we can all relate to – be it the girl next door or alternative opera-singer pop star. Because we all have our own personal battles to face.
While Eurovision has indeed been a glorious gateway for Kate, what other portals are out there for our Kate to uncover? Certainly, only time will tell. For if there’s one thing Kate is adept at: it’s opening up unchartered doorways and worlds.
“It’s impossible to be fully prepared,” Kate reflects on Eurovision, “because it was going to be beyond anything I’ve experienced before.
“It’s the most intense experience you can imagine. But the only thing I could do is deliver the best performance possible for me. I’m my own, worst critic - I’ll always have that.
"I’ve also been around long enough to know this is fleeting. It’s a roller coaster ride and you’re lucky in your music career at the top of the roller coaster when an opportunity like this comes along. You have to be aware: this isn’t going to last.”
With such a multitude of accolades and accomplishments, we can quite safely say the 5'3 blonde bombshell, pocket-rocket chanteuse redefines music. Because Kate Miller-Heidke has many faces and many edges. Sure, she can perform to audiences from the TV screen or from musical theatres and festival stages.
But wherever Kate goes, she brings a sense of intimacy to her gigs. And it stems from her music where tracks like ‘The Last Day On Earth’ and ‘Zero Gravity’ draw you in to take you away on your very own personal journey.
It’s an astonishing talent that no doubt comes down to her and Keir’s outstanding songwriting abilities translating across a legion of platforms be it TV, theatre, stage or YouTube.
While performing 'Zero Gravity' at Eurovision will place Kate front and centre to an incredibly huge audience, there’s a sense of familiarity that Kate brings with her to the stage for every performance.
The control and execution as an artist comes across from the stage as a polished, gleaming star; a light we as the audience love to revel in. We embrace the finesse, the sheer talent. But often, we fail to see the hard work, the arduous journey it takes to walk up those steps and present a damn good show.
Certainly, that sense of onstage polish and off-stage authenticity is something incredibly special: Judy Garland inspired it, as Kate Bush and Bjork had it.
There’s a very real sense of the onstage superwoman persona balanced by an authentic real person who is allowed to grasp at their ups and downs and celebrate it in performance; who in their music may be secure as an artist, but can be vulnerable in their craft. Because while the sense of the tortured artist might be touted as mythology, it reappears as very real and genuine.
For all her strengths as a performer and songwriter, Kate brings an incandescent realisation to the stage where we never forget how real and vulnerable she is as a person. “I’ve learnt to embrace my rough edges and what sets me apart as a performer,” Kate confesses.
“The truth is, I never felt embraced by mainstream music or triple j. I ended up having to forge my own path and make my own way in what felt my own succession of brick walls.”
Kate Miller-Heidke plays Adelaide Cabaret Festival at Thebarton Theatre (Adelaide) 22 June. Eurovision takes place 15-18 May.