Listening to Australian musician Sia with her full, dramatic voice can sound at times so dark, it can give you the wrong idea about her bubbly personality. When you see pictures of her or hear her talk, you want to put on a smock and finger-paint with her while doing the hokey-pokey, drinking Mr. Pibb and watching Saturday morning cartoons.
Through the years, Sia’s music has constantly changed directions and it wasn’t until recently, with the release of the first single, “You’ve Changed,” from her upcoming album We Are Born that it seems she’s finally hit her stride.
AfterEllen.com talked with Sia about her new album, working with Christina Aguilera and her hopes to eventually marry her partner, JD Samson.
AfterEllen.com: From “Breathe Me” to “You’ve Changed” — which, I’m obsessed with that single, it makes me smile every time I hear it — it’s like being on two opposite ends of a great pop universe. How do you think you’ve changed, for better or worse, between recording those two songs?
Then I made a pop record because I had just started listening to pop music, and then nobody wanted it. I delivered it to Universal Records and they said, “You’re a downtempo artist. You can’t do this, you’ll confuse the fans,” and I was like, “What fans?” And they were like, “Well you know, even though there’s eight of them, you’ll confuse them,” and I was like, “Eff that! That’s what I’m delivering” and then they dropped me. [Laughs] And everybody else, all the suits and corporate type people were like, well you need to make another downtempo record. So I made Some People Have Real Problems for my desire to make a pop record and thankfully “Buttons” from that record kind of helped lead the way towards this record.
This is the album I really wanted to make. A lot of the songs on it I actually wrote five years ago. I wrote them with Greg Kirston who produced the whole record. This is an amalgamation of all of the stuff I’ve loved over the years since I was a 10-year-old. It’s a bit of Motown, the Pretenders, the Police, the Strokes, Lauryn Hill — just my favorite pop over the years. This, I think, is the first record that hasn’t been born from my surroundings; this is really everything I’ve ever loved.
I’m really happy about it and I even managed to get [Nick] Valenci to play guitar on the whole record so I really was able to get a bit of something that I loved, so that’s pretty awesome. I even did a Madonna cover — I did “Oh Father” just for fun. I hadn’t really done a lot of ballads on my album and then I went to work with Christina Aguilera and we wrote a bunch of ballads with her. Then we realized I might need another ballad. So I was like, “How about I just do a cover?” We did that and then I changed the words, but she wasn’t having that so I changed them back. You don’t want to piss off Madge.
AE: No I imagine not, off with your head! So I’ve seen from your Twitter page that you and I share a love for trashy television like The Real Housewives series and Rock of Love.
AE: Well did you hear there’s going to be a Real L Word?
AE: I think you and JD should be on it, flip stuff up!
AE: What’s going on with the Crafts for a Cause thing you’re spearheading?
(Note: So as to protect the people involved in her story, I’m just going to omit the actual nitty gritty. It involved getting medicine to the people of Haiti who were using nothing more than Tylenol as a pain relief as they were having their legs amputated. Suffice it to say, Sia and her friends are superheroes.)
AE: What’s going on with the H Crusaders?
AE: Do you think you and JD might take the plunge and get married?
AE: Have you attended any of the rallies?
Sia’s latest album, We Are Born comes out on June 7, and she’s leaked six tracks that are now available via her Facebook page. (Thanks to AE reader hypothesis for the tip!)