Adelaide’s own Sia Furler recently appeared on US radio program The Howard Stern Show, where she and the titular host discussed a few things that even die-hard fans might not know about the notoriously quirky singer-songwriter. Things like her Mama Bear-Cubby Girl relationship with Demi Moore.
Also addressed is her childhood relationship with her father’s multiple personalities, the process behind writing some of the most recognisable pop tunes of the last decade, her concept of God (which, we must tell you, is freaking awesome), and her numerous houses filled with ex-junkies.
Listen: Sia on The Howard Stern Show
1. She has a weird relationship with her dad.
The singer’s relationship with her muso dad is a little unconventional. She recounts to Stern how she was asked during an interview if her father was jealous of her. When her Uncle Collie (actually Colin Hay from Men At Work, not her real uncle) answered in the affirmative, she began to cry, saying, “That would be a real bummer if that were true.”
“He’s an incredible guitarist. I think he’s happy for me but I think it’s impossible not to see something you wanted happen to someone else, maybe, and wish it for yourself. Maybe it’s envy and not jealousy,” Sia explains to Stern, before discussing her dad’s two personalities.
“I do find him amusing. I think it’s the only way to function within the relationship. Growing up he had two very unique personalities. One was called Phil and one was called Stan… Phil was like the best dad ever… He was fun but he was eloquent and he was present and interesting and interested. When Stan came around stuff got scary.”
2. She smoked too much pot when she was a kid.
Sia’s battles with mental demons have been well-documented, and she thinks some of it might have to do with her habitual pot-smoking as a teenager. “I don’t think it’s fucked up childhood [that caused my bi-polar disorder], in my case. I refrain from blaming anything on my parents.”
“I think that everyone does their best and if they didn’t do their best they’re just sick too,” she continues. “What I do think is that I smoked too much pot when I was a kid. I think it fucked my brain up.” Asked at what age she started smoking, she reveals she had her first J at the age of 13.
3. Six Feet Under saved her career.
Many fans became aware of Sia after her track Breathe Me was used in the finale of the acclaimed HBO series Six Feet Under, but what some fans may not know is that the producers’ now famous use of her track was responsible for “resuscitating” what Sia describes as her “truly dying career.”
Watch: Sia’s Breathe Me in Six Feet Under Finale
4. She’s not a diva, and didn’t sabotage her own career.
Though she admits a general dislike for most of what’s involved in undertaking a tour, she insists she didn’t generate a difficult-to-work-with reputation in order to sabotage her own career and get out of touring. All of her demands, she says, were reasonable and “none of [her] record label’s business.”
“What actually happened was that my management weren’t listening to me,” she tells Stern. “I was unhappy, and I didn’t feel right and I didn’t want to be an artist. But I made a record and I was fully willing to promote it… I’d been doing it for 13 years, I was 35 years old. And I said, ‘Can I fly in a flatbed if it’s for over eight hours and I have to do promo the next day?'”
She says the request was an attempt at taking care of herself and preparing for the hours-long promo grind. As for taking her dogs on tour, “I would pay for it. It’s my tour. It’s not my management’s business, nor is it my label’s business. It doesn’t affect anyone except for the band.”
5. Diamonds started off as gobbledegook.
Sia goes in-depth on her writing process, particularly how she wrote the lyrics and melody for the Rihanna hit Diamonds. All of her songs, she says, are written in under an hour and in the case of Diamonds, she only had 20 minutes as there was a car that was waiting to take her to the airport.
After going into the studio with the producers and recording the instrumental into GarageBand on her laptop, the songwriting machine began to figure out a melody, using nonsense lyrics and scat. Lyrics most often come later, with Sia bending and twisting the words to fit the existing melody.
Watch: Sia Explains Writing Diamonds
6. She believes in God and he is a queer, surfing Santa named “Whatever Dude”.
Asked if she’s a religious person, she replies, “I believe in a higher power and it’s called ‘Whatever Dude’ and he’s a queer, surfing Santa that’s a bit like my grandpa, so yes.” She says Whatever Dude is a male, despite being a feminist, and he acted as the muse for the lyrics to Diamonds.
7. Pretty Hurts was supposed to be for Katy Perry, then Rihanna…
According to Sia, the Beyonce tour-de-force Pretty Hurts was originally intended for Katy Perry and was then given to Rihanna, who waited on it for eight months without securing it. After handing the track to Beyonce, Sia was “freaking out” to let Rihanna know, but RiRi’s manager saved the day after suggesting Sia offer her Diamonds instead as he thought it would be a better fit for the singer.
8. She has enough money to just make music for her fans.
Sia’s cashed-up enough from writing for pop stars to simply keep making music just for her fans. In fact, she says she’s working on getting some labels made up to denote, “The couch that Flo Rida bought,” “The house that David Guetta bought,” and “Thanks, Britney for this window treatment.”
9. She’s not contractually obliged to promote any of her records.
In addition to having three houses — one right across the road from the other in Palm Springs, California — the financial security means there’s a clause in her contract that says she’s not required to do any promotion on an album. She can release music and not worry if it makes a profit.
10. Most of her friends are recovered junkies and Demi Moore is her “Mama Bear.”
However, she’s not into having money just for the sake of it. Instead, she wants to spend it on her loved ones, who mostly happen to be ex-junkies: “What I want to do with this money is create experiences for me and my recovered junkie friends… most of my friends are recovered alcoholics.”
Also counted among Sia’s friends is Demi Moore, to whom she was introduced through Nick Valensi, guitarist of The Strokes. Whilst experiencing a “hard time” in Mexico, Valensi’s wife suggested she hook up with Moore, who proceeded to “mama bear” her and help her feel better.
Sia’s new album 1000 Forms Of Fear is due for release in Australia on 4th July.
Watch: Sia – Chandelier