Sia isn't easy to get interview time with. We know, we've tried. The elusive, Aussie-born singer/songwriter is one of the biggest behind the scenes stars in music (having penned hits for Beyonce, Rihanna, Celine Dion and so many more), but in 2014 she is finally becoming a solo star in her own right - thanks largely to her peerless new single, 'Chandelier', and excitement over her upcoming album, 1000 Forms Of Fear.
She performs on TV with her back to the audience (and in some cases, while lying face-down on a bed) and unlike the music industry norm, has done next-to-no interviews to promote the record. However, Sia is not exactly a new artist. She has been on the scene since 2000, when she scored a UK Top Ten hit with her single, 'Taken For Granted'. We're not counting her 1997 album Only See - and you'll find out why further on. Since then, she has released three solo, critically acclaimed albums, but is only now getting the attention she has deserved for well over a decade. Gigwise spoke to Sia in 2007, prior to the release of her Some People Have Real Problems album, and these were the six best things she told us...
She always wanted to change the world
"I got up and sang at this karaoke bar in Italy. I didn’t like any of the songs they had so I just got them to clap their hands and sang ‘Lean On Me’ by Bill Withers. I was seventeen and writing about racism and homophobia, I had a message and wanted to change the world. Then I went back to university in Adelaide to finish studying Italian and Politics and I hated it after having spent a year out of school, so I quit straight away."
She released a dreadful solo album
"I went to Tokyo and worked as a hostess for a while. In the interim I’d made a solo record called ‘Only See’ which is like the worst trip-hop shit you’ll ever hear. I had a box of thirty albums in the hostess bar where I was working and somehow I managed to engineer that I would get up in the centre of the bar in some sort of Courtney Love lace negligee and 1940’s heels, hold onto the strippers pole and sing my songs while they were being played over the CD. I only had thirty and I sold out!"
Watch Sia perform 'Breathe Me' below
Her early music was laced with tragedy
"We’d split up but we were going to get back together and travel. I was five days into my stay in Thailand and I got this call from my mum and I knew that someone had died.” Tragically her instincts were right. “Dan had been hit by a taxi on Kensington High Street. I went back to his funeral in Adelaide and his friends in London were so nice, they rang me and said we know you’ve got a ticket here, come anyway and stay with us. So I came and there was like thirteen of us in a three-bedroom apartment and we were all grieving and we all got drunk for a fucking long time."
Her first record deal wasn't exactly what dreams are made of
"It turns out that their main gig was coke dealing and I suddenly thought fuck I’m managing them. I’d got a hit with ‘Taken For Granted’ off the first album, but by this time I’d flopped because they didn’t release the album till six months after I’d had the hit. The one thing that came from that guy managing me was that he played football with Sam and Henry from Zero 7. They gave me two tracks to write over and they were ‘Destiny’ and ‘Distractions’. Then I left and a year later I’d forgotten all about it and my career was over. Then the Zero 7 album came out and it got a bit successful…resuscitation number one!"
Watch Sia's UK Top 10 hit, 'Taken For Granted' below
Her next one wasn't that much better...
"Colour The Small One was a painful period cos I’d finally got emotionally full up. I stopped drinking, I got therapy, was really depressed and just had to address lots of shit. They said I was a down tempo artist and that I’d be confusing the fans... I was like what fans?"
They are rare - but her live shows are worth the money
"It’s like a magical playground, I want to create a nice environment and I want to be a good host. I like to say Hi and be heckled and just feel the vibe of the show. For a lot of people, £10 is a lot of money and they’re trusting me that I’m going to give them some return so I take that responsibility seriously…in a fun way. I don’t like going to shows where people take themselves seriously and have this sort of reverence where they think that they are special and unique. I don’t think it’s fair to invite people to pay money to see you when you’re an entertainer and then deny them what they want. I just wanna have fun."
Sia releases new single, 'Chandelier' on 29 June 2014 and new album, 1000 Forms Of Fear on 7 July 2014.