Page last updated at 07:13 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 08:13 UK

Sia: 'I've never made any money out of record sales'

Sia Furler
Furler is a long time collaborator with UK band Zero 7

by Kev Geoghegan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

An interview with uber-quirky Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler is not a straightforward, join-the-dots, "Tell us about your fabulous new album," type of affair.

Personable, funny and possessed of a manic laugh - which comes in regular fits, a half-hour conversation veers wildly between migraine-induced speech impediments, fantasies of accepting awards with Cher, sharing fake tan with Katie Price and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant Pete Burns and his monkey-fur jacket.

And it's all quite a contrast to the languid figure that's sprawled out at the other end of a couch in the middle of Sony HQ in London.

Currently she explains that she has recently been suffering from severe migraines leading to a fairly scary sounding condition called aphasia.

I tried to deliver a version of this album to Universal and they dropped me

"You get a spasm and it pushes down on the language centre of the brain," she explains.

"I meant to say, 'My eye feels like it has a mist on it,' but what I said was 'There's no ketchup in here'.

"It was so scary and weird."

Fortunately, the condition did not impede progress on her forthcoming album We Are Born, due out in the UK in June.

Bidding war

An uptempo batch of catchy pop songs in stark contrast to her earlier solo work and the coffee-table downtempo Zero 7, of which Furler was a regular collaborator.

"I was really bored of making downtempo albums," she sighs, "I had tried to deliver a version of this album to Universal right after I made Colour The Small One and they dropped me."

She continues: "Ironically, they were one of the most recent suitors for this, the same album but Sony won it. They were in a bidding war for practically the same album that they dropped about five years ago."

Sia Furler
Furler has written songs for Christina Aguilera and Will Young

Aside from her work on Zero 7's Mercury-nominated debut album Simple Things in 2001, Sia best-known song is arguably the atmospheric Breathe Me from her 2004 album Colour The Small One.

The track was famously used during the series finale of the hit US show Six Feet Under and was subsequently appropriated by dozens of films and television dramas.

The new album, Furler's fifth, was produced by Los Angeles-based Greg Kurstin who has worked with artists as diverse as The Flaming Lips, Pink, Kylie and Lily Allen.

"The Fight (the album's opening track) is my favourite. It makes me want to do air punches, it gives me Karate Kid feelings," she giggles.

Within the 13 tracks on the album is a version of Madonna's rarely-covered Oh Father from the 1989 Like A Prayer album.

So were there any sage words of advice from the music icon?

"Only, 'Don't change the words,' because I tried to personalise it a little bit and they said 'No, she doesn't let anyone change her lyrics'.


A regular user of social networking sites like MySpace and Twitter, Furler offered fans several songs from the new album to download free on her official website.

Between you and me, we also tried to write one for Cher but she didn't go for it

Despite a downturn in international music sales - the blame being laid squarely at the feet of illegal filesharing - Furler inists the practice is a vital tool which allows her to reach more people

"All it does is make record labels feel scared," she explains, "and if we give them the songs and ask them how old they are and where they're from, then we can decide where to go on tour and what size venues to play in.

"It's smart marketing and I also think the people should have access to art for free or music or whatever you want to call it."

She goes on to claim that she has "never made any money out of record sales anyway".

Pete Burns and Cher
Pete Burns and Cher share styling tips

One potentially lucrative sideline is writing songs for other artists.

She has provided lyrics to singers including Will Young and Natasha Bedingfield and most recently contributed a handful of songs to Christina Aguilera for her forthcoming album Bionic - due for release next month.

"Things went so well for us that she flew us back out to write another song for Burlesque, the movie she's starring in with Cher," she says excitedly.

"And, between you and me, we also tried to write one for Cher but she didn't go for it."

Furler then goes on to imagine herself accepting an Academy Award with Cher at her side, before launching into a brief but certainly passable impersonation of the singer.

The subject of reality television then comes up. Now a resident of New York, she spent much of the noughties living in London and developed a taste for British television.

A fan of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here, Furler excitedly recounts meeting former jungle contestant Katie Price.

"I lent her some fake tan once at a charity soccer contest. Tara Palmer-Tomkinson was there and Robbie Williams and I was really excited because I was a complete nobody.

Sia Furler
Furler is touring the US and Europe

"I took my fake tan and Katie was like, 'Ooh, can I have some of that?,' she was lovely."

Throughout the interview, Furler is keen to point out that she is not in any way "famous" and maintains that she is simply happy making her music.

"I don't need to be rich anymore, I don't need to be a millionaire."

And she says her next project is of a more biological bent: "I want to have a baby now, I want to have a lot of babies."

We Are Born is due for release on 12 July.

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