Sia Gets Into the Groove

Downers, be damned - the chanteuse gets happy on her upcoming album. Also: How she learned to be a lesbian.

By Chris Azzopardi

The world might just end for those who feed off Sia's sad songs. She's happy! And she knows it! And she's clapping her hands! In fact, she's making everyone do it on her forthcoming CD's first single, "Clap Your Hands," a neon-colored ditty of disco-dance. That vibe zips through much of "We Are Born," the Australian songstress' fourth album - to be released June 8 - on which Sia's pep pill triggers a kaleidoscopic pop piece that's cute, moving and as bouncy as her own personality.

Sia, whose work can also be heard on Christina Aguilera's upcoming disc, chatted about losing her label over the project, how her girlfriend influenced it and the Cher collaboration that never happened.

How did you decide on "We Are Born" as the album title?

For the last record, I must've explained that title 13,000 times, and my girlfriend and me were talking about how to avoid that. JD (Samson) said, "Why don't you just take a lyric from one of your songs?" I thought that was a good way to avoid having to make any grand statements - by using the first lyric of the first song (laughs).

What influence did JD, with her dance music background, have on this album?

She probably influenced it in that when we first started dating she made me a couple of mix tapes and there was a lot of music I had never heard of and I guess the ones I liked the most were like lezzy music (laughs).

Well, you are one, so that makes sense.

Yeah, but I was a new gay back then. I needed to be schooled in the lezzy ways. When I'm with her what she plays is way more up-tempo and then what she performs is dance music, so I definitely subconsciously absorbed that. I'm really impressionable, that's what it is. I was hanging out with a bunch of hip-hopers before "Healing is Difficult," and then I was hanging out with Zero 7 when I made "Colour the Small One." With "Some People Have Real Problems" , I was trying to make that record so that I could make this record. But they wouldn't let me.

I actually delivered a record similar to this right after "Colour the Small One." In fact, there are three songs that are on this record that were on that record, but Universal dropped me. I delivered it to them and they were like, "You can't do this. You're a down-tempo artist. We can't market this. This is confusing to your fan base." I'm like, "What fan base? I sold, like, 6,000 records." I've since negotiated a really great deal with Sony, who I'm with now.

What does JD think of the album?

She loves it! She told all her friends that I made the best album of the year. And I could tell that she really did like it. It wasn't like she was just being supportive and faking it (laughs).

"I'm in Here" is reminiscent of "Breathe Me," made popular by "Six Feet Under," and should appease fans of your sad songs. What place were you in when you wrote it?

I have either cyclothymia, which is low-level bipolar disorder, or a major anxiety disorder, that is probably what was happening. Actually, that day I know what was happening: Sam (Dixon) came over and we started to write for the first time in a long time and we had been in there for, like, five minutes and it wasn't happening (laughs). I was like, "I've lost it!"

He started laughing at me and he sat down next to time and said, "Sia Furler, we have been in here for five minutes. Do you know how long it takes other people I write with? Days and days. You can't beat yourself up because within five minutes you haven't come up with anything." A couple of deep breaths later, we went back at it and then "I'm in Here" happened.

You wrote four songs for Christina Aguilera's new CD, which is coming out the same day as yours. Does this mean war?

No way! We are sisters in arms.

Did you know her album was coming out that day?

I found out through Twitter. Someone wrote something like, "What a fucking bitch! What a way to thank the person that made your album." I'm like, that's not nice! The last thing it'll be is a duel. And anyway, she's going to sell like a trillion records and I'm going to sell maybe 100,000 (laughs).

And what if you sell more?

Then I could just get preggy and retire.

Christina's going to be in "Burlesque" with Cher. And you almost had a chance to write a song for Cher for the film, right?

Yeah, Cher didn't go for my tune. Such a bummer.

How disappointing!

Absolutely! Because holy fuck, could you imagine? Cher!

Any idea why she passed?

I'm sure they'll tell you fucking anything to make you feel better, but they (the studio) said it was too cool. We were really trying not to be cool (laughs).

You were here for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival last summer, but I'm glad I'm able to come to this show with my penis.

Yep, totally bring it. Bring other penises, too!

What do you have planned for "The We Meaning You Tour"?

My new thing is nail polish and so I've started painting with nail polish but also, we're yarn-bombing the stage. Everything will be covered with granny rugs and afghans and hand-knitted microphone covers and microphone stand covers, and I've got some pretty fun outfits. I've got some bubble-blowing wings that I've been painting with nail polish for the last couple of days. I will be blowing bubbles on the audience with my wings.

What was it like doing the "Clap Your Hands" video?

We made a video, but I didn't really like it. It was Bollywood dancing, but I wasn't feeling it. It wasn't energetic enough for the song, so we made another one, and it's really weird, dude.

Of all the Madonna songs you could've chosen to cover on "We Are Born," why "Oh Father"?

It's not a very romantic story. I had just finished all these ballads for Christina, I had already finished my album, and I thought to myself, I think I need to put another ballad on the album. It felt unbalanced, but I was ballad-ed out.

I was having lunch with my friend for her birthday and "Oh Father" was playing and I started singing along while she was telling a story. Some people might think that's rude, but she doesn't care at all when I sing while she's talking (laughs). So I was like, "Bingo!" I called (my manager) David and he's like a major gaylord and he was squealing because he was so excited that I might do a Madonna cover. I did change the words up a little bit and she didn't approve that, so I had to go back in and change the words back to her original words.

W hat kind of influence did Madonna have on you?

Major! I was like every other 12-year-old in 1986. I was wearing fingerless gloves and -

Dancing in your underwear on your bed?

Totally. I must've seen "Desperately Seeking Susan," like, 70 times (laughs). Her and Cyndi Lauper were my faves in that time - and the Pretenders and the Police. That's kind of when my musical interests died (laughs). Yeah, my interest in music died in 1988, so all my musical development is stunted and the only thing you'll ever hear in my tunes is influences from before then.

You always tweet about "Mr. Boops." Who is that?

(Laughs) That's JD Samson!

I thought it was a gay man!

Well, she is. She's like a gay boy (laughs).

Sia

7 p.m. April 26

St. Andrews

431 E. Congress, Detroit

http://www.siamusic.net

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