Australian born artist Sia Furler, more commonly known just as Sia, has been a shining light in the pop scene in the last few years. Having become synonymous with large wigs and powerful pop music, her last two albums, 1000 Forms of Fear and This is Acting have both taken the world by storm. However, these recent albums are just the latest chapter in a long career, which began locally in her hometown of Adelaide in the 90s.
Starting off in an Acid Jazz band called Crisp, she soon moved on and released her debut album Only See, in 1997. The album didn’t take off in the way she had hoped, selling only 1,200 copies. Moving to London following her boyfriend Dan Pontifex, she began to establish a life for herself here in the UK, as well as a career. She sang vocals for the band Zero 7, and remained with them during the production and subsequent tours of their first three albums. Signing to a sub label of Sony Music in 2000, she released her second solo album Healing is Difficult in 2001. The album dealt with the death of Pontifex, who had died in a car crash a few months into Sia’s time in the UK. This began what is still seen now in Sia’s music, which is a real vulnerability and honesty about difficulties in her life- the rawness of her voice portraying this in an intoxicating way.
Between the years 2004-2010, she released three more studio albums, Colour the Small One, Some People Have Real Problems, and We Are Born, as well as a live album, Lady Croissant. We Are Born was met with great approval in Australia, and it heightened Sia’s success significantly. However, with that success came a lot more pressure, and Sia found herself overwhelmed by the price of rising fame, turning to alcohol and drugs as an escapism from the depression she struggled with. This is when she also began to wear wigs when performing, desperate for some sort of privacy. Her mental health deteriorating, her physical health was too when she was diagnosed with Graves disease. The collaborative weight of all these factors meant that Sia considered permanent retirement. Instead, she chose to step back, and focus her talents on writing for other artists.
She intended to remain out of the spotlight and to work behind the scenes as a songwriter, but this period out of the limelight did not last long. In 2011, her name went global when David Guetta used her initial demo vocals on his single ‘Titanium’, and the world fell in love with her voice. Although reluctant to return to the industry as a pop artist in her own right, off the success of the song she decided to start again- thus beginning the current reign of Sia.
Through her emotional and often dark lyrics, combined with her raspy voice, Sia has something of an otherworldly quality about her; only heightened by her avoidance of the spotlight. Through performances and music video concepts, she has managed to strengthen that connection between her music and the surreal. Often featuring teen dancer Maddie Ziegler sporting Sia’s infamous bobbed hair, both on video and on stage, choreography by Ryan Heffington has turned the experience of Sia’s music into something altogether visceral and fascinating.