The idea for “Correspondence” stemmed in part from my longtime desire to have pen pals. With all the changes technology has brought, it seems like this type of communication is a dying art. But I still really love writing emails back and forth with people and being able to share the type of things I like or come across.
When it comes to musicians or artists, I find that interviews can be really unique at times, but also limiting. I wondered what it might be like to temporarily be pen pals with somebody like this. At the time I merged all these ideas into what would become “Correspondence”, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, or who would be crazy enough and give enough time to do this.
Almost as the idea was coming together, it was brought up to Kate Miller-Heidke, an incredible musician from Australia. She happened to be really into the idea and jumped right into it. Although I knew this had good potential, I had no idea she would come up with so many great things or that I would have so much fun with it. The following is the result of our back-and-forth banter over the course of the past few months. I hope you have as much fun reading it as we did writing.
Hey Shaun. Here is an excerpt from my latest email to my parents.
Philadelphia is a nice city. The other day we had a beautiful meal at a French Bistro there. Keir got a whole lobster for $15! Lobster is not such a big deal over here. Today, we went to an incredible Philly museum called the Mutter Museum. It is a museum of medical history and abnormalities. Here’s a list of some things they have there:
- The plaster cast of the torso of world-famous Siamese Twins, Chang & Eng, and their conjoined livers
- Joseph Hyrtl’s collection of skulls
- Preserved body of the “Soap Lady”
- Collection of 2,000 objects extracted from people’s throats
- Cancerous growth removed from President Grover Cleveland
- Tallest skeleton on display in North America
It was quite thrilling. Jeremy (my US manager) had to leave after a few minutes to ‘get some fresh air’, and he didn’t come back. Also on display was an engorged colon of a man who had died of constipation. He was found dead on the toilet, and the doctors had to remove 2 and a half buckets full of excrement from his colon. The museum also had a lot of foetuses and shrunken heads. After our visit, I felt very alive, but Keir felt a bit sick.
That place sounds like a demented paradise! That’s one of the greatest emails I think you could send to your parents. I always feel kind of strange communicating with my parents online. Have either of them figured out how to text yet? My mom always drops LOLs and and uses as few letters as possible. She reminds me of the 12-year-old me that was just discovering the internet and talking in creepy chatrooms.
I’m assuming right now you’re probably somewhere out in the Indio desert-land, getting ready for Coachella. When you get back to civilization you should tell me about all your crazy/awesome experiences. If you’re able to get any cool photos along the way feel free to send gems. I’ll leave you with an awesome video my friend just sent me.
That’s funny that your mum uses lol. My parents can text (though my Dad hasn’t figured out how to use spaces between the words). Even my Nana can text, although she’s not as good with the internet. The other day she left a message for me underneath a blog review of my album. It said something like ‘Dear Kate, hope you are well etc etc, Lots of love, Nana Meg XX’.
Coachella was an amazing experience. A giving, generous-spirited audience who really listen. It was strange being in the artist’s area too – the first time I had my own trailer (we don’t really have them in Australia) , and it was set up with all the other band’s trailers like a trailer park. A trailer park where Perry Farrell and Grizzly Bear are your neighbours.
I saw some great music too. Them Crooked Vultures were transcendental. Having an artist pass is brilliant, because you can stand right in the sound desk. I was right next to Josh Homme’s mum, and she was bopping along in a most endearing way. Unfortunately Imogen Heap was drowned out by the subwoofers in the next tent. I really want to see her in a different setting.
I have to go now, as my flight to Dayton OHIO is boarding.
I hope your trip around the Midwest was awesome! Did you have any pizza while you were in Chicago? The deep dish pizza they have there really is insane. I had a slice one time that literally required a fork and knife to be eaten. I was filled up after one…
The other night I was out filming with a few friends and went on top of a car to get a better angle. By the time I went to get off, it was about 4:00AM and dew had formed on the car. I stepped on the windshield and slipped back so fast… I fell completely on my head and almost shattered the windshield! I blacked out for a second but luckily I didn’t have a concussion and the glass didn’t shatter. Here’s a picture of the aftermath with the guy whose car I just destroyed. He was pretty bummed at first, then got over it, then got pulled over 5 minutes after we left. Sometimes luck is just not on your side… It was one of those nights.
Sorry I didn’t write back sooner. I’ve been trying to have a little break from internet stuff. We’ve been writing and demo-ing songs, and too much internet turns me into a stupid dickhead. Anyway, back online now.
Falling off that car must have been scary. Good photo though. Is that you one left? The guy on the left looks contrite, and the guy on the right looks a bit pissed off. You must be on the left.
I haven’t tried any deep-dish pizza yet, but I am intrigued and fascinated by it. Is it all filled up with cheese? I love cheese.
We’ve been staying in a hotel in Pasadena these last two weeks. It’s weird living in a hotel. I suspect the people working at the front desk are laughing at us somehow. They’re always giving me these strangely judgemental twinkly-eyed looks. Maybe it’s my imagination. The tipping thing confuses the hell out of me too. About a week ago, I asked reception to call me a cab. When I got down there, a valet guy opened the taxi door for me, and said pointedly ‘I called this cab for you, you know’. I realized after I’d driven off that he wanted me to tip him. Since then, every time I see him as I walk into the hotel, there’s this really awkward stand-off between he and I. I feel like Larry David. I should have just given him the fucking $3, but it’s too late now.
Yesterday Ben Folds posted some photos of us on his twitpic. He’s a great photographer. The set-ups are faked – we were chronicling the arc of a gig that starts brilliantly, then goes awry and turns into a disaster. My mother sent me a very worried email after she saw the pissing one, because she didn’t know it was fake. I’ve attached the photos here.
I actually am on the right… I was a little dazed and confused after that slam. I think Kevin–the one on the left–was trying his best to pretend not to be bummed out for the camera.
It’s good to hear that you’ve been productive though. I hope your new songs are coming along well. Do you have any plans to record yet?
I lived in a hotel for a little bit once. It was in Santa Monica, CA. The rooms were really cheap and it was almost like living in a dorm room. The place wasn’t that bad but there were definitely some strange characters. Tipping is always confusing. I still feel weird every time I eat at a restaurant. To this day I’m not really sure what is “acceptable” so I generally do 20%. The strangest people expect tips though. In my opinion, I don’t get why full-service gas station attendants don’t get tipped. I mean, those people are out there in the pouring rain, cold, and snow pumping gas for you. And then there’s these dumb fucks that “call a cab” and open a door who have their hands held out. This world is a strange place.
Those photos are hilarious. I think people need to take advantage of being on a stage in front of a lot of people more often to do crazy things. I think it’s so amazing that Ben played music over Chatroulette at that show. I watched that a bunch of times and showed my friends. I say you video chat us your next show. Kidding.
Finally, here’s some stuff to inspire you in the writing process:
I just watched those youtube clips and each one made me feel worse than the other. Fucking hell. Thanks for that.
In my band, we invented a word for making other people watch youtube clips (or other things on the net) – it’s called ‘clamming’. It’s like spamming, but your open laptop resembles a clam. The word has yet to take off, but we use it all the time (all my friends are clammers). You’re a real clammer Shaun. Generally, the rule is, if someone clams you, you get to clam them back. So I’m claiming what’s rightfully mine and linking to something, in the hope that you haven’t seen it. It goes for 20 minutes, but you owe me after those three appalling things you just made me watch.
We always tip the gas station attendants. WTF?! There should be a tipping handbook for US tourists. It’s too confusing for us laymen.
Our tour finished in San Francisco. What a great town! I’ve attached a photo of me on a sculpture that was in our hotel lobby. We have two weeks in London and then Shanghai and then back to the US. I’m writing some music at the moment but there are no immediate plans to record.
Kate Miller-Heidke is currently on tour, headlining shows in North America. She will be in Cambridge, MA tomorrow night and New York Wednesday night. If you are in the area, you’d be crazy not to check her out. In the meantime, go take a peek at her website, MySpace page, and Twitter.