Sia — The Alchemy of Blockbuster Songs, Billions of Views, and the Face You’ve Never Seen (#452)

Illustration via 99designs

“I don’t think that I’m necessarily like a super-talented songwriter. I think I’m just really productive. One out of 10 songs is a hit. So where a lot of people will spend three weeks on one song, I will write 10 in three weeks.”

— Sia

Sia (@sia) is an Australian singer, songwriter, director, screenwriter, and pop icon. Her current single, Together, is from her forthcoming album and motion picture, Music, due out later this year. In 2019, Sia partnered with Diplo and Labrinth to form the group LSD. Their debut album, Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present…LSD has one billion+ streams to date. She released the Grammy-nominated This Is Acting (Monkey Puzzle/RCA Records) in 2016 to much critical acclaim and cemented her role as one of today’s biggest stars and sought-after live performers with her sold-out Nostalgic for the Present headline tour.

Sia has more videos in YouTube’s Billion Views Club than any other female on the planet. Her massive single Cheap Thrills was a multi-format global radio hit and one of the longest-running singles in the Top 40 in 2016. Along with her own successes, Sia has written global smashes for today’s biggest acts, including Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and many more.

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#452: Sia — The Alchemy of Blockbuster Songs, Billions of Views, and the Face You’ve Never Seen


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This podcast is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear an episode with another artist who makes her own rules? Listen to my conversation with Amanda Palmer in which we discuss books, trauma and grief, crowdfunding, understanding the role of pain, and much more.


SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

      • Connect with Sia:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

SHOW NOTES

      • Let’s start the interview on (the topic of) ketamine. [05:21]
      • Sia shares her experience with attachment theory, the work she’s doing to repair her own attachment injuries, and the outcomes she’s noticed. [11:34]
      • Sia explains what it was like growing up around her father’s dissociative identity disorder. [21:45]
      • Is Sia Keyser Söze? [28:03]
      • What is Sia’s most ironic tattoo? [30:00]
      • Why Sia believes there’s no such thing as being bad at meditation, and what her own practice looks like. [30:57]
      • In the process of writing over a hundred pop songs, Sia has tried everything from channeling to methods that are more self-destructive. [37:49]
      • High concepts, milking metaphors, cheesetastic anthems, and what the songwriting process looks like for Sia today. [46:38]
      • How do publishing percentages work in the music industry for people involved in the creation of a song? In other words, how does the money get split? [50:52]
      • Early in 2016, Sia told The Guardian that she considered herself more prolific than super-talented as a songwriter. What’s changed since then? [57:38]
      • Curiously enough, Sia doesn’t really listen to music when she’s not making it. Why? [59:53]
      • Why Sia is eager to show the world (especially aspiring young singers) a video of how bad of a singer she was at age 12. [1:03:26]
      • What compelled Sia to begin hiding her face and having other people — like dancer Maddie Ziegler — appear in her stead at center stage for videos, photos, and live performances? [1:06:26]
      • Sia gives us some background about Music, the musical drama film project she’s currently working on with Dallas Clayton, Maddie Ziegler, Kate Hudson, and Leslie Odom Jr. [1:12:51]
      • What made Sia commit to adopting two teenagers? [1:22:27]
      • Parting thoughts. [1:28:24]

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