Her ethereal voice has been setting the mood for soundtracks and laced into national commercials spots for the past decade. A little more soulful than what you’d expect by looking at her, but her non-traditional and musically inclined upbringing in Australia responsible for her eclectic taste for beats and lyrics. Formerly a member of Zero 7, Sia Furler has made big waves in independent music.
“People tell me that I sound like how I look,” says Sia of her unusually strong vocals, “Look at Christina Aguilera and Natasha Bedingfield,” she says “So you know this isn’t about color.”
Her finely tuned ear received early informal training, with her parents listening to Motown music and girl groups, Sia also fell in love with Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Cindy Lauper, Lauren Hill and Madonna, “I would sing along and try to mimic their sound,” she says.
When asked what her favorite genre of music is now, she answers simply, “Music that is made by people that are liked as people,” logical enough, right? Why would we want to listen to music created by someone who we don’t respect in the first place? “It’s more about liking the person, than liking the music.” It is in this same vein that Sia doesn’t stray away from making the music that makes her happy; though her style may change over the years, she stays true to herself.
Her ideals and views on life have changed in the past few years. Now dating a woman, her lifestyle has opened her eyes to the unfair things that happen in the world. Her song, Breathe Me (Colour the Small One, 2004), which was also featured on the Remember Me soundtrack, was an ode people suffering through injustice and also one of her favorite songs, “I am emotionally attached to that song,” explains Sia, “When I recorded it I was teetering on the edge of survival.” Now that she is living a life that is considered taboo by so many, she says she’s in a neat place; experiencing what it’s like to not allowed to get married or share proper medical insurance, “I Started to feel a bit ragey about it,” she continues to explain, Breathe Me, “That song was for a lot of people,” she says, “They need something to rely on.”
The lyrics, “Be my friend, hold me, wrap me up, unfold me, I am small,” are set to a somber piano melody that is underscored by dramatic strings that need no baseline or drums. Sia’s voice stands perfectly by itself without the aid of background vocals or harmonies.
Sia’s music videos are always vivid and creative, finding abstract ways of telling the stories of each of her songs. Some of them are quite sentimental and cathartic, like the video released for Breathe Me and Soon We’ll be Found (Some People Have Real Problems, 2004). And some are just downright silly, such as Little Black Sandals and Buttons (Some People Have Real Problems, 2004), showing the quirky side to Sia that makes her a unique person and musician.
Perhaps Sia’s most notable song was released while she was a member of the now dismantled, Zero 7. Her electronic ballad, Destiny (Simple Things, 2001), has been featured in countless movies and soundtracks. It was probably made most famous by the one and only love scene in the surf movie, Blue Crush, starring actress Kate Bosworth.
For a girl who grew up on Soda Jerks, Rockabilly Band and never had a formal singing lesson, she’s doing quite fine for herself. Her refreshing, “I don’t give a crap what anyone thinks,” attitude is an endearing and enduring quality that will continue to afford her success.
Sia’s latest album, We Are Born was released in 2010 and is now available online: www.siamusic.net