Sia: The Billboard Cover Story


(from Billboard Magazine, October 25, 2013) Three years ago Sia Furler tried to pull off a disappearing act that hasn’t worked out so well. After a solo career that began in 1997, Sia wanted to stop recording under her own name and simply write for others. The hits came quickly, some featuring her vocals. Her fame was growing instead of shrinking.

Within four minutes of sitting down with Billboard for an interview, she explained her addiction to painkillers, alcoholism, medical misdiagnosis and the clauses in her contract with RCA for her next album that stipulate she doesn’t have to tour or do press to promote it.

Three years ago, when she pulled back from her own career, she needed to regroup. Sia stated to Billboard, “All I wanted to do was write for pop stars. For one reason or another it never happened for me. Then I got seriously addicted to Vicodin and Oxycodone, and I was always a drinker but I didn’t know I was an alcoholic. I was really unhappy being an artist and I was getting sicker and sicker.”

The first project that Crush’s Daniel brought was 10 tracks from Guetta. She chose “Titanium” writing the lyric in 40 minutes. Released in December 2011, it climbed to No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold 3.6 million copies according to Nielsen SoundScan. For a follow-up she wrote “Wild Ones” for Flo Rida in 15 minutes, she says. It peaked at No. 5 on the Hot 100 and has sold 3.8 million.

In both cases, Sia recorded vocal demos that wound up being used on the singles. What Daniel had pitched as a good way for her to get into pop songwriting, she says, was backfiring and keeping her name alive as a recording artist.

Obviously there weren’t any surprises when her tracks were sent in for consideration for the films “The Great Gatsby” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” Once she knew she would be the artist recording “Elastic Heart” for the latter’s soundtrack, Sia says she felt there was a change in the direction her RCA album could take. She’s not planning to target the pop charts—she’s created an animation project, Greta Gorgeous, and her band Surprise Party with that in mind.