Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler started her music career in the mid-1990s as a singer in a local Adelaide acid jazz band Crisp. By the 2010s, she was one of the top pop songwriters, but her roots are in more eclectic music - she has called the pop tunes she's written "terribly cheesy."
After Crisp disbanded in 1997, Sia released her debut studio album OnlySee on Flavoured Records in Australia. The record sold 1,200 copies.
She is one of the most efficient pop songwriters in the business, known for delivering lyrics and melody in minutes. "It happens in one motion," producer Greg Kurstin says.
In 1997 Sia decided to follow a boyfriend named Dan to London. En route to join him, she received the devastating news that he had died after being hit by a car. Sia decided that she would still move to London. After a couple of years in England's capital city, she recorded an album, Healing is Difficult, which dealt with the loss of Dan. The LP was a minor hit in Britain and yielded a Top 10 single, "Taken for Granted."
Sia first came to the attention of the American public when "Breathe Me
" a track from her her third album, Colour the Small One
, was used on the final episode of the TV show Six Feet Under
Sia relocated to New York City in 2005 and began touring across the US, releasing two albums. Some People Have Real Problems and We Are Born. However, by the release of We Are Born in 2010, Sia was a mess. Addicted to painkillers and alcohol and suffering from panic attacks from the incessant cycle of having to promote her music, she contemplated suicide, but was stopped by a friend. Sia began a twelve-step program and focused on writing songs for other artists.
After success penning hit tunes for the likes of David Guetta ("Titanium
") and Rihanna ("Diamonds
), Sia signed a contract with RCA to record an album, which stipulated she didn't have to tour or do press appearances to promote it. Sia told NME
that she now abides by strict rules for a living as an artist post-recovery. "The game I'm playing is purely for my own emotional well-being," she said. "I'm just not cut out for it."
The resulting album, 1000 Forms of Fear
, was Sia's most successful, topping the charts in Australia, Canada and the US and reaching the Top Five in many other territories. So what changed? Sia told Billboard
magazine in late 2013: "After 14 years of songwriting, I feel less vulnerable about telling the truth about what's really mine."
She started drinking heavily as soon as she had her first glass of wine. Her alcoholism contributed to depression, and in the early '00s she attempted suicide by overdosing on Valium. She finally got sober around 2011 after going through the a 12-step program.
Sia's image rests on a blonde bob wig, a simple piece of branding that allows her to performances with her back turned to the audience, or with actresses like Lena Dunham or Maddie Ziegler appearing in her place. "I thought it would be a funny joke that I'm getting away with," she told NPR matter-of-factly. "And it was, partly, I don't wanna go out and sell my soul, my body, my peace of mind."
Many of Sia's songs are based around a single metaphor; examples include David Guetta's "Titanium," Rihanna's "Diamonds," Britney Spears', "Perfume
" and her own track "Hostage
Sia is a niece of Australian stage, film and television actor Kevin Colson.
Sia discussed her songwriting process during an interview with Australian radio station Nova 96.9 DJs Fitzy and Wippa. "Melody is pure intuition. I don't use any thinking brain when I do that. That's totally in the zone," she explained. "The melody will tell me what the song should be about, the tone of the song. That's when the intellect comes in. Because I have a list of possible titles and concepts and I expand on that."
She tied the knot with documentary filmmaker Erik Anders Lang at their Palm Springs home on August 3, 2014. Sia announced their separation after two and a half years of marriage in December 2016.
When it comes to her hit songs, she feels that the visuals have artistic merit while the music is more commercial. She is intrigued by how songs become hits and a little perplexed at why she's so good at creating them.
Sia's videos and live performances frequently feature elaborately choreographed dance routines, but we never see her take the floor herself. Instead, she relies on dancers such as Maddie Ziegler to stand in for her.
The Australian told The New York Times that while she does have a love of dancing, she is too scared to attempt actual choreographed routines. "I have always been the first on the dance floor, but I'm not teachable. I couldn't learn 'five, six, seven, eight' if my life depended on it," Sia said. "[My choreographer] keeps trying to convince me to do a video myself, and I find that so flattering, but I'm too afraid or lazy."
She was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live on November 7, 2015, the night Donald Trump hosted. Trump was running for President of the United States, but his candidacy seemed like a longshot. According to Sia, he asked to take a photo with her, but she politely refused, explaining that she didn't want her queer or Mexican fans to think she supported his views.
Sia is the cousin of Christian musician Pete Furler, a founding member and former lead vocalist of the rock band Newsboys.
Sia revealed in a tweet on October 4, 2019, that she suffers from a rare neurological disease called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. The condition causes chronic joint pain and extreme fatigue.