I discuss Sia’s unconventional approach to the music industry and shunning of media conventions.
Being a singer these days is far from simple. Tiresome touring commitments, crazy promotional campaigns, endless television appearances, incessant hounding by the press, and the inescapable force that is social media all ensure that being a musician into something it shouldn’t be: a job. And a demanding one at that. So while you may have been born with a unique musical talent and some songwriting savvy, this doesn’t necessarily translate into being able to handle the daily trappings of celebrity stardom. Musical talents from Kurt Cobain to Britney Spears have buckled under this pressure, and that’s why Australian songstress Sia is shunning it all and putting music first.
Non-music connoisseurs could be fooled into thinking that Australian singer-songwriter Sia, is a new kid on the music industry block, but at age 39 and having released her debut album, OnlySee in 1997, Sia is far from newcomer status. Poor record sales and little mainstream success categorised Sia’s early music career, leading her abandoning live performance in 2009 in favour of writing for artists such as Rihanna and Beyoncé. Safe from the cold media glare, Sia could perfect her own song-writing technique and write songs for her sheer adoration of the craft.
The musician’s bid to hide in the shadows of the music industry was futile however, as two years later her song ‘Titanium’ became a worldwide dance-hit for French DJ, David Guetta, thanks to Sia’s explosive vocal skills displayed on the track. Not completely satisfied with being catapulted into the single and the public eye, Sia decided to approach the music industry and media in a different manner than she had ten years previously. She would play them at their own game – by not playing a game at all.
In the last few months Sia’s unconventional attitude to all things conventional has come to the fore. Well aware of the damage that media attention and crushing concert tours schedules can cause, Sia has made herself a stranger to us all. Appearing at the recent Grammy Awards wearing a white veil-like wig draped over her face and carrying out performances with her back to the audience, are actions that have received both applauds and criticism from discerning music lovers. While many claim that her abandoning of media constraints is admirable, others believe that it is all a cry for publicity and that she is letting her fans down in not providing them with tour dates and face-to face contact.
However, with millions of YouTube views clocked up thanks to ‘Chandelier’ and ‘Elastic Heart’, Sia enthusiasts seem far from dissatisfied. Although the video for ‘Elastic heart’ has received its share of claims that there are elements of “perverse paedophilia” in the relations between Ziegler and actor Shia Le Boef who co-stars, Sia affirms that the pair represent “two warring Sia self-states”. Whatever the case, one thing that is clear is that the world is awaiting what Sia and her side-kick Ziegler will do next. As Sia’s latest album 1000 Forms of Fear takes the charts by a storm, the singer remains as uncharted an enigma as ever.