Having interviewed Aussie expat songstress Sia Furler several times over the past couple of years, two things seem guaranteed at this point.
Firstly, she’ll immediately remark upon this writer’s apparently uncanny vocal similarity to her friend Daniel Askill, who directed the video to her most enduring song, Breathe Me (“But you really, really, really do sound like him,” she insisted, “it’s not just something I say to disarm the interviewer!”).
Secondly, she’ll fritter away a good proportion of the allotted interview time happily describing her immediate surroundings, stream of consciousness style.
“I’m at my grandparents’ old farm, and I’m sitting on the balcony … it doesn’t smell great right here. Wow, what’s a spider that has a black stripe down its body? Yeah, this spot doesn’t smell great. It’s raining now, and I’ve put soft goods out here, and now I’m probably gonna get in trouble with my mum…”
Furler’s spent much of her summer bunkered down on the South Australian farm with girlfriend JD Samson, with the rural idyll only punctuated by a pre-New Year’s skydive. She said the experience left something to be desired.
“I thought it was going to be more … I don’t know what, just ‘more’, full stop. There was something underwhelming about it.”
Jumping out of a plane, underwhelming? Sia, you hard ass.
“I’m actually not! I’m not an adrenaline junkie. One coffee and I’m gone, and I could never do those upper drugs. I thought it would scare the shit out of me, but it was underwhelming. I didn’t want to insult my tandem jumper, so I played along at the end: ‘Oh thank you, that was so amazing’. Then I told JD I found it underwhelming and she pissed herself laughing.”
Perhaps jumping out of a plane doesn’t seem such an impressive feat compared to what was Sia’s most intense year to date. She released her fourth and strongest album, We Are Born, forged a new career as a songwriter for hire, and was forced to bow out of the spotlight for several months thanks to a diagnosis of Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid, in June. 2010 will also go down as the year Australia finally ‘got’ Sia — after a decade of releasing music to little public interest, We Are Born debuted at number two and earned her three ARIA Awards.
“Just in time for me to stop working,” she laughed.
This was something she was threatening before her enforced break last year — fans hoped a little time to herself would change her mind, but apparently not.
So she’s still adamant she wants to quit the pop star life?
“I will release more albums, I just don’t think I’m really going to tour or promote them. The truth is, I don’t liiiiike it,” she wailed.
“I find it uncomfortable being revered, and the more famous I get the more uncomfortable I get. I’d happily take the ARIAs and the money, but the public recognition is just not something I’m into, in any way, shape or form. So I’m going to write songs for people who are into it.”
Furler’s contributions to Christina Aguilera’s Bionic were undoubtedly the highlight of that overcooked album, and the industry response to the tracks — including You Lost Me, perhaps Aguilera’s finest ballad ever — have encouraged her to approach other artists. Her dream, she said, is to write for Beyonce. And it seems that’s not all she’d like to do with her.
“I wanna go. To Beyonce. All the way,” she purred lasciviously. “She is my queen.”
“I’m friends with her sister [Solange Knowles], but I would never ever use that connection to get to her. Solange knows I love her sister — I was on my way to Beyonce’s concert in LA and Solange texted to say ‘You’re gonna love it. She’s like a glam alien’. And she was, she was a glam alien. She is my queen,” she sighed.
Furler’s songwriting for other artists is reaping unlikely rewards — namely her first Golden Globe nomination, with the Aguilera-sung track Bound To You, featured in the film Burlesque, nominated for Best Original Song. We spoke to her before Monday’s ceremony (and her loss to Diane Warren, also for a song from Burlesque) and asked if she had an acceptance speech all figured out.
“Nah, I don’t care about that stuff either. I gave my tickets to someone at the record company. [Co-writer] Sam Dixon is going, but only so he can sit near the cast of Mad Men. Poor Christina has to go to the Golden Globes. They’re so boring, award ceremonies. You have to sit around for hours laughing at bad jokes, appear gracious if you lose, elated if you win…
“It’s all just a game, that’s all. And I don’t really want to play it.”
In print, her words might come off as harsh — bitter, even. But sitting on the dusty porch of her family farm, nattering to spiders and watching the rain, Sia’s clearly found happiness, and it’s not on the red carpet.
info: Sia performs at the Big Day Out across Australia, Melbourne Palais on February 1 and Sydney’s Enmore Theatre on February 2. Visit www.siamusic.net