Artist Interviews

Q&A: Sia

By | Published on Wednesday 26 May 2010


Sia, born Sia Furler, is a soulful jazz-styled pop singer-songwriter from Australia. Her independently released debut album ‘OnlySee’ came out in 1997, though she subsequently came to wider attention through her various collaborations with Zero 7, which began with their debut album ‘Simple Things’ in 2001. She has maintained a career as a solo artist too, though, releasing three albums to date via Sony Music. Her fourth album, ‘We Are Born’, is out on 7 Jun, and will be preceded by a headline show at London’s Roundhouse tomorrow (27 May). We spoke to Sia to find out more and ask the Same Six.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I started making music when I was seventeen. I was in Italy and went to a discotheque where I did karaoke and sang ‘Lean On Me’ by Bill Withers. DJ Gaf was at the back and he heard me sing. He subsequently asked me to sing on one of his tracks and paid me £50 for doing so. I then used elements of that experience to write my own song, which was probably my first proper songwriting project. Though I’d been writing songs for fun since I was very young, eight probably. I remember, I had seen people around me suffer from AIDS, and I wrote songs about that experience.

Q2 What inspired your latest record?
Nothing really, because it’s kind of like a compilation of all the up-tempo stuff I’ve done over the past six years. My label sort of pigeon-holed me as a down-tempo artist but, as this record shows, I can make poppier songs too! Generally, though, I’m inspired by what’s going on around me; if I’m upset I’ll write about that; if I’ve just watched ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and something moves me in that then I’ll write about that; if I speak to friends and they’re having problems, then I’ll write about that.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
Well, I’m incredibly lazy, so most of the time I like to lay down when I’m writing; we often have beds in the studio! Whoever I’m writing with, we’ll usually start with the chords and then build around that, with sample drums, bass, guitar, piano. Then we’ll work on the track until it’s at an acceptable stage, so that we can play it to management etc. Much much later, after we’ve practised it enough so that it’s really sharp, we’ll record it live.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Probably Michael Jackson from the early days. I listened to a lot of Jackson Five when I was growing up. In terms of current artists: Ponytail I really love, and a band called Men, and also Girl In A Coma. But my new album is totally about my childhood; my Dad left when I was eleven, and soon after that I stopped listening to the music I’d liked before and started listening to different things; everything became about intellect, partly because my stepfather was more academic.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Well, I wouldn’t really want to talk over it! I think I would just say it’s ‘easy listening’, and try and keep their expectations low. This record, in particular, is more wiggly than my others, so prepare to be wiggled!

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest record and for the future?
I’d like the album to do well, obviously. I haven’t always been a priority artist for Sony, and that seems to have changed, which is nice, I want to take advantage of that. Though, that said, I’m not sure how much I want the fame that can come with being more high profile. It was good living from synch royalties and being out of the public spotlight for a while! Now I’m learning how to deal with new types of fans.