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Pop Singer Sia on Dodging Fame, Writing for Christina Aguilera, and Pooping Rainbows

Since the late nineties, Sia Furler has been singing with the likes of Massive Attack and Zero 7, and she's just now releasing her fifth solo album, We Are Born (as well as playing tonight at Terminal Five). She's a busy lady: She helped Christina Aguilera write songs for her latest album, Bionic, makes music for commercials (that’s her singing “Under the Milky Way” in Lincoln’s car ad), and played her third Coachella this year. And along with her partner JD Samson of Le Tigre, Sia is also one-half of the coolest queer couple on the planet. But in spite of all that, she tells us, the Australia native would prefer to forgo fame and become a dog masseuse.

Your Twitter bio that says you were “born from the bumhole of a unicorn named Steve.”
It’s true! [Laughs] He’s the best mom and dad in the world.

What magical powers were bestowed on you as a result?
I can smell bullshit from, like, 2.3 miles away. Also, I poop rainbows. And I have an alter ego called Rain Barf. She barfs rainbows. [Laughs]

We Are Born could be the soundtrack to a really awesome eighties prom. There’s dance-your-ass-off songs, seductive R&B, and all-out party jams.
I’m stuck [in the eighties]! My musical education stopped when I was 11 or 12. My dad left, and he was the big musical influence in my house. My mum got a boyfriend who was a judge and my life completely turned around. It became academia-driven. I stopped listening to music. I was weirdly obsessed with music until I was 11 and then I turned into a nerd. I’m really easily influenced. When I made Healing Is Difficult, I was hanging out with Australian hip-hoppers; when I made Colour the Small One, I was depressed and touring with Zero 7, and all I listened to was James Taylor; and when I made Some People Have Real Problems, it was because I had to make another down-tempo record because nobody would let me put out an up-tempo record. I actually listen to [We Are Born]. I never listened to any of my other records. I listened to them once to make sure there weren’t any big mistakes. But this record I actually listened to like ten times.

You tweeted: “Getting famous makes me feel unsafe. I’m not built for it.” What did you mean, and how are you going to handle your rise in popularity?
Right now, I’m handling it by taking Zoloft and Xanax. And I think that [getting famous] is the only reason I’m taking them. It started happening at the end of the last record. Instead of two people waiting at the stage door, suddenly there were 60, and they were screaming. I started to feel like “the Hunted.” My nervous system just sort of went bananas. That’s why I don’t think I’m built for it. I’ll promote the fuck out of this record, but then I think I’m gonna just make records and not necessarily promote or tour them. I’ll be the songwriter for pop stars and then they can be the front person and I don’t have to be famous. I’m not equipped. I don’t think I have the right boundaries in place. I’m living the dream of a 10-year-old.

How so?

When I was 10, my parents really valued success in the arts, and I thought if I was a famous “something artistic,” that they would love me more. I don’t know what I was looking for, but it was something to fill that hole. Then when I reached a point where I actually was successful, I realized it doesn’t fill that hole at all. The only thing that really fills that hole is, like, therapy and self-help books [Laughs] and friendships. Being famous for me doesn’t really have any benefits.

Is it at all possible to balance fame and life?
People have different ways of dealing with it. I was walking down the street with Zach Braff and I was like, “Wow, he’s got really amazing boundaries in place.” People were stopping him and he dealt with it very calmly and succinctly. Then there’s Christina Aguilera, who has everything she needs in her home — a chef, a movie theater, a game room — and she can’t leave the house without a security person. I don’t want that. She actually loves singing for people and performing. For me, I like it, but I don’t need that. I can sing in the shower. I can make an income from songwriting. And I can get a real job like being a dog masseuse or a dog psychologist. I’m not built for this stuff. As I said, I’m living the dream of a 10-year-old who didn’t know any better. Now, as a 34-year-old, I think I know what I want and that’s definitely not fame.

Photo: Dove Shore/Getty Images