MISSY Higgins has always been in awe of good friend and fellow musician John Butler.
She remembers fondly supporting the blues and roots maestro in 2004, just months before her smash hit Scar and No.1 debut album The Sound Of White made her one of the most commercially-successful Australian artists of the 2000s.
While Butler tore through tracks like Zebra, a then 20-year-old Higgins would stand at the merchandise desk and “push my EPs” while she marvelled at the performances.
“I remember being in awe of him because his live show is so amazing and he’s able to make such a massive sound with his guitar,” Higgins remembers this week. “It was like, ‘wow, I’d love to have the audience entirely in the palm of your hand’.”
It’s fair to say Higgins learnt the skill of captivating an audience in her own way. Next month she’ll reunite with Butler, but this time as equals as they co-headline A Day On The Green.
It’ll be Higgins’ first tour since the release of her best of compilation, The Special Ones.
The experience of revisiting her five albums of material gave the 35-year-old an opportunity to appreciate her early success, something she found difficult when the nine-time platinum-selling The Sound Of White catapulted her to pop stardom and six ARIA Awards in 2004-05.
“I found it quite hard at the time because I’d always been very introverted and someone who likes to not be the centre of attention,” Higgins says.
“When that role was suddenly flipped, I was wide-eyed and stunned for a little while and it took quite a few years to get used to that. Even though it was a wonderful thing, it was a shock to the system.”
Higgins even briefly quit music after her second album On A Clear Night to study and dabble in acting.
“I’ve had ups and downs and I took a few years off music because I lost the love for it for a while,” she says. “I felt like I was making music too much for other people, the record executives and the people in suits and I’d forgotten to make music for myself.
“So I needed a bit of time to realise why I started making music in the first place.”
Eventually that returned and she’s since released the No.1 album The Ol' Razzle Dazzle (2012), a collection of covers called OZ (2014) and last year she dropped Solastalgia, an album inspired by her heightened environmental concerns, following the birth of her son Samuel in 2015. In August Higgins welcomed a daughter, Luna.
“Suddenly facing a world with climate change, having brought a child into the world, I felt the responsibility and the weight of that,” she says. “I suddenly became so hyper aware of the world my children were inheriting.
I suddenly became so hyper aware of the world my children were inheriting.Missy Higgins
“I’ve always cared about the environment, but this stepped it up a notch.”
Solastalgia was well received, but its success paled in comparison to her earlier albums. But Higgins has reached a liberating point as an artist where she feels unafraid of potential failure.
“I think if you’re going to make really interesting music you should be prepared for failure,” she says.
“I feel at this particular moment in my career that it’s OK for me to take much bigger risks because if fans don’t like an album I make, I’ve always got my back catalogue and people have special attachments to those songs and those albums and that's never going to go away.”
Missy Higgins and John Butler Trio co-headline A Day On The Green at Bimbadgen on February 16.