Douglas Marshall-MacDonald

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Reporter Archives: My interview with Sia, September 2012

Reporter Archives: My interview with Sia, September 2012

I spent 8 years in New York running around to different events, movie premiers, awards galas, fashion shows, etc talking to actors, singers, politicians, designers and reality stars.  Most of them are names you recognize; you see them on TV, listen to them on the radio, read about them in magazines and newspapers.  I have mountains and mountains of transcripts that have never been published.  I might have talked to someone for 5 minutes, yet only one quote makes it into the paper or online article.  Some of the best things they said to me, have never been seen or heard.  Until now--I've started to go through my transcribed interviews and it's interesting to see what these notable people said THEN, and where they are NOW.  Some of the things they said foreshadowed what was to come.  Or, things they said back then that didn't make sense, make complete sense years later.  That's why the first transcription I want to share is from the few moments I spent with Sia, when she still showed her face.

I interviewed Sia on September 12, 2012 at New York Fashion week after the J. Mendel show. At that point she was just blowing up into mainstream pop and becoming well known for her collaborations with David Guetta. It was at a time when she still showed her face. I talked to her and got to look her in the eyes and she's a warm and lovely person to spend time with. In her earlier days, she was more indie and self admittedly a drug addict. She got sober in September 2010 and that's when her life and career really took off!

I went to Sia's concert Nostalgic for the Present this week.  The visual display is thrilling; her songs are acted out by modern dancers, most notably, Dance Mom's sensation, Maddie Ziegler.  Sia's voice is center stage, but you never see her.  It's more like a shadow of her: Covered up in that famous bob-wig with big bow on top, wearing a simple white dress, off to the left, she melts into the scenery.  She's almost invisible.

This got me thinking, what did she actually say to me in 2012?  I went through the archived transcript; It's very interesting what she said, especially seeing where she is in her career today. She kept saying she was in retirement and wanted to remain invisible-yet her singles kept coming out and she was often #1 on the charts. This was not necessarily her doing. She would cut demos for different artists when she was shopping around the songs she wrote. Producers liked her demos better than the singers they were sent to, so they just put her on the record (allegedly). It's not clear how that happens, but you will see what she says below. It's interesting, now, 4 years later to see her on tour and in interviews, hiding her face, back turned to the camera, trying to remain invisible. She's out of retirement, for sure. But she remains, as she said 4 years ago, the invisible pop star.

___________________________

The Q is me, the A is Sia!

I made my way over to Sia.  The only reason I knew it was her, is because someone pointed her out.  I didn't really know what she looked like.  I later came to find, I wasn't the only one who didn't know what she looked like.  I put my bag down and my sunglasses fell out of my pocket and she said, “Someone dropped their sunglasses” and she looked at them and said, “You better pick up your $4 RayBans”. And they totally are from the street.

Interview:
Q: Wait, how did you know that?
A: I used to buy them. Now they give them to me for free (the real ones). BAM. So weird, when suddenly you can afford things, people want to give them to you for free. Finally when you can afford things. They’re like, ‘We wanted to send you some Ray Bans”.
Q: I love your music and you’ve done some great collaborations already…are there any others in the works you can talk about?
A: Well, I’m not doing anymore features. Not at least for the meantime. But I have got a lot of songs coming out on other artists’ records over the next year and a half. All of my favorite girls but it’s not classy to talk about that. You’ll know on Monday – they’ll be one on Monday that will come out and then it will be out. And then I have four more…well, a bunch…there’s probably 10 coming out. The Neo single that’s just out, I wrote the chorus for that.
Q: No way, I did not know that.
A: “Let me Love You”.
Q: Oh I love that, that’s you? Do you sing in it as well?
A: No, I just wrote it.
Q: It’s on here, I love that song (pointing to my iphone).
A: It is, thank you.
Q: I love all the collaborations you do with people. You’re great.
A: Thanks. Well those were all mistakes. I wasn’t intending to be on those records. They were demo vocals and the David Guetta thing I wrote for Alicia Keys and she didn’t do it but then Mary J Blige did it – but I was bummed when he put my demo vocal back on it.
Q: So wait, they used your demo vocals to release the song?
A: Yea.
Q: Did they not ask you?
A: They did not ask me. So it was a surprise when I saw all the long lead promo and someone tweeted me ‘Oh I’m so excited you’re on the new David Guetta record’ and I was like, ‘No I’m not’ and they were like ‘Yes you are’. I was bummed at first.
Q: What were you bummed about?
A: I was trying to disappear. I’d retired. So I was super bummed about it. And then it got really successful and I put it in my contract that I didn’t have to do any press or promo or be in a video. So I was still invisible. And of course things get increasingly easy to accept when they make you a lot of money. Gross, right? Question mark. (laughs).
Q: Well if you signed a contract to not do press, how do you feel about talking to me?
A: I mean I’m okay about it. This was a surprise interview. Yea, I don’t normally do that. I’m just like, no, I’ve spent so many years, 13 years, answering the same questions over and over again. But I only got surprise interviewed by Paper Mag the other day and then you. So it’s only the same questions twice, which is not crazy.
Q: Have I asked all the same questions that everybody’s asking?
A: Yea (laughs wildly)
Q: Well have you given me any different answers?
A: NO (really laughs). Do you appreciate my honesty?
Q: No, I really like you a lot.
A: (laughing – she’s got a good hearty laugh)
Q: So how does it feel to be out of retirement?
A: I’m not out of retirement. I’m still the invisible pop star.
Q: I don’t know about that.
A: Well this was weird. I’ve never been to a fashion week or anything and actually I think I misunderstood. I didn’t realize how much I’d be photographed.
Q: Well….ya got some style!
A: Yea, oh, thanks. So I didn’t realize. So I won’t do it again. Cause I like being invisible. It’s much nicer for me.
Q: Being invisible?
A: umm hmmm
Q: So are you going to go into hiding?
A: But I was excited to see the show so I think I kind of misunderstood. It’s cool. It was a learning experience.
Q: You didn’t think you would get attention?
A: Yea
Q: But you can walk down the street without getting stopped in general?
A: Mostly, and it’s gotten better since I became invisible.
Q: But how did you become invisible?
A: I retired. I stopped doing promo and I stopped touring and now I’m just the voice.
Q: Okay fine. Even though you are in retirement who would you love to work on their tracks with. Like one person that gets you out of bed in the morning?
A: I just met my goal. So I don’t know where to go from now.

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