As I necked a warm can of Stella on my way to the Lexington to see Misty Miller perform a one off gig at the Lexington in Angel, North London, I realised I was slightly nervous. Her most recent album; “The Whole Family is Worried” contains an intensity of emotion akin to a cornered animal, ready to either try and run, or attack and fight for its life.

Couple the intensity of the album with her heavily tattooed image and the company she keeps (members of Fat White Family to name but a few), I was wary of what I was about to run into. In addition to this, a brief chat over Facebook implied that if my interview was to question her purely on the transition from 17-year-old major label folk songstress to her current incarnation, the interview was a no go. However, what I met when I arrived at the pub was a relaxed, genuinely open human being, and so it was with this impression I sat down to discuss feminism, music, and the bigger questions of life with the one and only Misty Miller.

So, first off- really boring question: where are you from?
I grew up in Wimbledon, so South West, but now I’m South East, Camberwell. And I hate North London.

If you weren’t a musician, what do you reckon you would’ve ended up doing with ya life?
I would have been a handy girl. Like running about doing odd-jobs.

Will you paint my room for me?
Yeah definitely. I’m actually trying to get some odd jobs- I wanna be known as that girl that knows how to fix stuff- one who can’t put up a shelf, but can paint a wall and wear dungarees.

Do you believe in-
Life after love?

Um, no, actually- do you believe in a God/some form of higher power/life after death?
Oh, good question… well I recently did something called ayahuasca, [an incredibly intense psychedelic drug- also a less conventional method of trying to get clean], in the form of a shamanic ceremony, and it made me realise I don’t believe in life after death, but rather that we are all one, having all come from the same place, made up of the same patterns of molecules. So I guess I believe in mother nature- the seasons, the cycles of the moon, the tides, and I believe we are just a part of this planet, and we should look after it. So that’s my higher power. The Earth.

I suppose that’s better than believing in some invisible nob in the sky?
Well, the best thing to believe in is yourself I guess… and others.

So, there’s a lot of talk relating to you in terms of feminism- and lazy comparisons being made to people like Ellie Rowsell (of Wolf Alice) and yourself just because you both happen to be women. But obviously there is inherent sexism in the music industry- what needs to happen for an equal gender pedestal of sorts to come into existence?
Well I’m in two minds about this. I think it’s great that lots of girls are now doing it- I don’t think it’s cool that there are now loads of new girl bands about who are only getting recognition because they’re women. Like a gimmick rather than because they have talent. Like, people will go down and see them because like “oh yeah this band are so fit” or whatever. The talent has to outweigh the vagina. BUT- I do think it’s brilliant so many guys are talking about it. Girls know what’s going on, obviously, but it’s good so many men are aware of the issues we face.

If you could punch anyone in the world in the face, who would you choose?
Katie Hopkins. Fuck her.

When you’re writing your music, is there a particular process you get into? Do you treat it almost as like “I’m gonna sit down and write songs”? Or does it just flow?
Uhh, I don’t really have a process- usually it’s informed by a catalyst- something will happen, and I’ll just have a guitar and write it… it all comes from experience. And some of it is autobiographical, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Sometimes I write just to give off a certain energy that needs to be released. I dunno, I don’t really have a process. People love other-people’s self-indulgence.

This is undeniably true- self-indulgence is indeed a personal favourite of mine. So, back to the matter at hand- What is the best gig you’ve ever played, and what’s your favourite venue?
The Windmill is without a doubt the best for me. The Windmill has done so much for me, and I love it.

Is there a particular standout show, or anything along those lines?
To be honest, actually, the gig I did at the Moth Club was amazing. It was at the end of a really difficult tour, and for some reason I just got really into it, really enjoyed it.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s ever happened to you in the world of music?
Well, my first support tour, I was supporting fucking Tom Odell, and the first night of the support tour me and Dan, the drummer, got into a physical fight, and someone rang the police, and they turned up, and there were a lot of handcuffs and stuff like that, and the tour manager was literally like ‘What the fuck, you’re just the support act for Tom Odell’. A lot of those kind of things, but its more the places you go- touring brings out the weird stuff, because you’re in a new place every night, out of your comfort zone. Touring’s difficult, because it’s very draining, and that’s not something I feel I could do at the moment.

What/ who should I be listening to at the moment?
Hmm… (thinking time ensues) well, you see Flameproof Moth? Yeah, there’s this band called the Honey Hahs and they’re his kids, they’re literally children. I went to the Ivy House yesterday with Saul [Fat White Family guitarist], and we both said it was the most inspiring band we’ve seen in a long time. Another band called Mummy, The Dead Pretties, Flameproof Moth himself AND… nah wait, that’s it for now.

Describe your music in 3 words.
(Long deliberation ensues) “I’ll give you four. Surf Pop Devil Time.”

That doesn’t make any sense at all, but weirdly enough I know what you mean. So well done for that, good shout.

At this point in the interview, there is a brief pause, as Misty’s mum and brother walk past, and I’m introduced. Although many people in the world have mums and brothers, the fact she invited her family to a gig is taken by me as further proof of her healing mental/spiritual/physical health, whatever problems with drugs and depression she may still struggle with.

Your album just came out, and you said you’re not gonna tour, what are your musical plans? Time for the studio or time for relaxation?
I wanna get into the studio immediately, and just invite whoever wants to come, and play along with the songs that I’ve written. I thought on my break I’d wanna take a break from music, but it’s actually all I wanna do. That and connect with people. I did this thing called Ibogaine [Another intense psychedelic drug, derived from a West African shrub, coincidentally also used to treat heroin and cocaine addiction].

I’m hearing a lot of reference to psychedelics… Basically, are you trying to kick heroin?
Yeah, I am. And I have no problems with you putting that in the interview, because people should. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. I’m over the REALLY difficult part though, but it’s always difficult. But since I’ve kicked it, I’ve realised that connecting with people is important, because a good interaction with someone can completely change your state of mind.

I know this is the thing you hate talking about the most, but you were 15 when you released your first album, and that’s fucking young. Looking back as an older and wiser person, if you could reverse the clocks and do it all again, is there anything you would have done differently?
Yes. I wouldn’t have signed to a major label. I’m just free of mine, and I feel incredible. I’m not bad mouthing all labels here by the way, I just feel they work for some people, and don’t for others. Like if you’re a tame Laura Marling, Birdy, Joni Mitchell girl folk musician who just wants to do that sort of thing that’s fine, or some pop person, who’s willing to do the whole sexualised thing, I’m sure it’s fine. But if you’re just a sort of shabby, normal, girl, it’s difficult to do it through a major.

Yeah, and when you’re like 15, you’re still trying to experiment, figure out who you are, and you’re not really your own person yet- to be on a major must have been crazy!
I mean, I’d never toured, never played gigs, never had a real relationship with someone, or a bad relationship, I just had no life experience at all. And in a sense, I can look back at it and think ‘oh, that was my childhood experimentation’, but being so controlled I suppose I pushed out at my boundaries a bit too hard, and ended up cracking up a bit. BUT- I feel I got a good album out of it, so it could almost have been worth it.

So you got your first offer at age 15, but didn’t sign until you were 17. If I had been at college doing my A-levels or whatever, that would have completely changed everything for me. What was it like to sign a major label record deal before the age of 18?
Well, it mainly meant I wasn’t there a lot, because I was off doing other things, but it also meant a bit of boring jealousy from bitchy girls wearing leggings- because everyone’s a bit of a prick when they’re 17. I think I was also hanging out with the wrong crowd, that’s why I started hanging out with a different, older, group of people, just because they were looking to do the same sort of stuff as me. Mainly people who had reached an age where they’d realised leggings are shit, and people who wear leggings are shit.

If you could have personally witnessed, as in with your own eyes, any event in history, which would it have been? Like, Woodstock, JFK’s assassination, MLK’s speech, anything.
Wow… That’s a really good question. There are so many I wouldn’t have liked to have witnessed, and they come to mind first… I suppose I would’ve like to have seen my parents as kids. Because it would be so interesting to see your parents before they became ‘your parents’, and had that childlike innocence about them.

That’s a really good answer, completely not what I was expecting… that would be bizarre though.
Oh, definitely.

So, finally, is there anything you want to impart to anyone who might read this?
Just do your own thing, don’t hurt anyone, don’t let anyone push you around, and try and retain some ability to keep your inner child alive, try not to lose that natural sense of wonder.

Well then, thank you very much for your time and thoughts, I will try and follow your advice about the natural sense of wonder, because cynicism is horrible.

So, wearing a dress to perform in for the first time ever ‘because she felt like a princess today’, she takes to the stage, and plays a ferocious set that makes the floor as if it were to collapse below your feet.

Although her (fantastic) recent album is the basis of the set, and so is therefore almost terrifying to behold in live spectacle, I got the impression, just from our brief half hour conversation, that Misty Miller has had to wade through some deep, dark, shit, to get where she is today. Whilst obviously still shaking off the remnants of some horrendous experiences, the freedom she has attained (from labels, from narcotics, from experience) the future looks brighter for her than it has for years. Now go and buy her album.

Words: Dan Pare