The Australian music video director, record producer, songwriter, and singer, Sia Kate Isobelle Furler, performs before audiences often using the name Sia. She was surrounded by the arts with her father, a blues guitarist, and her mother, who was an art lecturer. Her voice was a natural gift, and she chose to pattern her performance style from Aretha Franklin, Sting, and Stevie Wonder. Her vocal style incorporates funk, hip hop, and jazz. Furler’s work demonstrated that she has the innate ability to produce hits effortlessly.
When Furler wrote songs, they were like therapy sessions. During the song writing with Christina Aguilera, the discussion was about divorce. Her writing time with Lea Michele, a star of Glee, was spent talking about their boyfriends, who had died.
Furler’s pop star life was crowded with challenges through the years. She had very little time with her father as she was growing up since her parents divorced when she was 10. In the latter years, their relationship became close. At the age of 17, she began working in a cafe where she was given an opportunity to work with a hip-hop soul band. She leaned on alcohol to get her through performances. After leaving this group, she moved on to working with Zero 7, an English hip-hop duo.
As time passed, the addictive behavior intensified with alcohol and the drugs she took to address her bipolar condition. At one point, she wanted to commit suicide. Furler sobered and found that she could do well connecting with stars who had their own insecurities. Eventually, the tide turned in her life of one addiction to another, workaholism.
Another challenge of Furler’s had to face was centered around her music career. As it flourished, she became increasingly uncomfortable with the fame and attention. One time she decided to put a paper bag over her head to avoid the attention that is often given to pop stars. Later in her career, the blond-bob wig became her trademark.
Furler turned to drugs and alcohol, sabotaged the plans of her manager, refused promotion opportunities, and she made demands to include her animals on trips. As the addiction advanced, Furler and the band wore black to performances to ensure that their faces were hidden. Eventually, her thoughts turned to suicide. What became clear for Furler is that writing for others was a venue to hide her pain. In fact, the song, Chandelier, is about alcoholism.
Along with Greg Kurstin, a producer and writer, Furler and others created songs for Christina Aguilera and Beyoncé. The song, Diamonds, sung by the pop star, Rhiannon, was created in 14 minutes. This song was a classic-sounding tune with uplifting lyrics. Candy Brooke, singer and rapper reaped the benefit of having her song, “Living Out Loud,” become a reality in 45 minutes. Furler created the song, Titanium with Greg Guetta, a music producer and others, and included genres from pop and urban- dance in 40 minutes. It was written for Alicia Keys, but she turned it down. Mary J. Blige sang it, however, Kurstin eventually used Furler’s voice.
In many of the major music markets including the United States, Germany, Australia, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Norway, Finland, France, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, Titanium reached the top 10 positions. It become the number one hit in the United Kingdom. This was Furler’s first number one single and Guetta’s fifth on the chart. In this song, her attention was given to inner strength.
In 2005, the Furler’s ballad, Breathe on Me, was part of the final HBO series, Six Feet Under. The sales from this single recording reached 1.2 million. The New York Times referred to Furler as a “one-woman hit factory.” Furler’s most recent song, 1000 Fears, may not be on the top 40 list of songs, but her voice of emotion and words of violence demonstrate a metaphor of life.
Furler chose to become an animal activist and work with PETA and other musicians such as Shirley Manson, Iggy Pop, Ryan Tedder, Chester Bennington, Pink, Missy Higgins, The Veronicas, and Morrissey to help animals. She has become very passionate about the issue of the overpopulation of dogs and cats. She posed with one of her pets she rescued. Her message to the public is animals need to be spayed and neutered so that the number of animals that are euthanized or have to experience poor treatment is reduced. Furler believes that people have the power to change what happens to animals.
Written by Marie A. Wakefield