Backstage with...Sia

Photo: RJ Shaughnessy

You’re known for the mellow vocals you did with Zero 7, but the video for your upbeat new song, “Buttons,” shows you distorting your face with ropes and condoms and things. Was that your idea?
How gross is that? The director, Kris Moyes, one of my mates from Australia, was doing a treatment for the Gossip where they would tape their faces into piglike shapes. So we were testing it at my place here in Los Angeles and I ended up using it. But it was all him. I just brought the condoms.

You’re the one who had to clip clothespins onto her lip! Painful?
Excruciating. We did some research and found that some fetishists are heavily into that. It’s all part of the rush. That’s not really my bag; I prefer transsexuals and the like. No wait, I like getting punched and fucked up the ass. [Laughs hysterically]

Now you’ve got me picturing you in some leather bondage gear.
Actually, I’m eating birdseed hippie cereal and trying to arrange an RV to go to Burning Man two days before it starts. Whoops! Like—Oh my God, I can’t get it together to go be a bourgeois hippie in the desert. I’ve got rich-people problems.

I guess that’s why your upcoming record is called Some People Have Real Problems, but it does include a song about dating a cokehead. Your last record, Colour the Small One, had a song about a junkie friend. Are you just drawn to addicts?
Yeah! Emotional unavailability really turns me on.

You have Inara George of the Bird and the Bee singing on a bunch of tracks. Are you friends with her?
Yep, that’s my mate. Her voice is like palm trees and honeysuckle. We have “craft Tuesdays” at my house where we glue shit on shit. The funny thing about that girl is, she’s so sweet, but secretly she’s a filthy fuck.

This is the second record you’ve worked on with Beck. Is he your buddy too?
Yes, he’s my beautiful friend. I was working on this song “Academia,” and I wanted that deep voice he does, that we heard a lot of on Sea Change, so I got him to come and do it. Next, we’re going to make an entire album of songs about joy. That’s my plan with Beck.

You have a lot of talented pals.
Oh yeah, and I asked them all to come down and do something on the record.

But you got dropped by your label, Astralwerks—so how are you funding this new album?
Um…sugar daddies. No! That was a joke!

So the up-the-ass comment was dead serious?
I’m really going to regret this, aren’t I?

Sia plays Hiro Ballroom Wed 12. Some People Have Real Problems will be released digitally in December.