Sia’s Tough Confession: «When I Started to Get Sober, That’s When I Put The Wig on My Face»

The Australian artist talks on Apple Music 1 about divorce, depression, alcoholism... which led to 'Reasonable Woman'

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Sia’s musical comeback has been one of the most surprising and refreshing news of 2023 so far. We say «comeback» because even though the singer released a Christmas album, a soundtrack, multiple remixes, and songs with the supergroup LSD, it had been 7 years since she released a new studio album.

When her new work, Reasonable Woman, is released in 2024, it will have been 8 years, an excessively long wait for her fans and terribly tough for her after experiencing some of the darkest moments in her life. She acknowledged this during her promotional interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1.

Her appearance on «The Zane Lowe Show» produced some impactful headlines that will undoubtedly serve as inspiration for many people and even other artists to find a way out after divorce, depression, and alcohol problems. For the Australian singer, expressing herself through her new album was what pulled her out of that situation.

«I had been writing a song here and there for six or seven years. I went through a divorce, and it really messed me up. It was such a dark time that I was in bed for three years, very, very depressed. I couldn’t do anything during that time. Then I started again, just doing little bits here and there, but it was really hard to get out of bed,» Sia explained at the beginning of the interview about the difficult path that led to songs like «Gimme Love» and her new album.

She wasn’t alone on this journey: «It turned out we had enough songs to make an album that were good enough. So I usually rely on my manager to tell me when we have enough good songs because I really can’t tell when I think one is particularly good. Well, I guess I can tell, but they tell me when we have 11, 12, or 13 that are good enough, really good.»

Nevertheless, the feeling of loneliness didn’t completely disappear, as evidenced in «Gimme Love,» the first introduction to this work: «I had a big new house, and a part of us, we spent the pandemic together. So it didn’t feel all that lonely; it was a really nice property, with seven little individual units, each with its own kitchen, dining room, bathroom. It was amazing. So it was perfect for the pandemic, and I wasn’t alone, which was truly amazing. Labrynth and Jesse did come out during those times, but I was very lazy; I stayed in bed. I have a projector on the ceiling so I wouldn’t have to move a muscle to watch TV. It was a strange time, not using any muscles, watching TV, detached from reality. Then I would go to Jesse’s little shed, and everything was in darkness… I think we did three songs from the album, but I didn’t think much of it. Personally, I was writing lazily, so I didn’t even think that song would make it onto the album, but my managers said, ‘No, it’s a single, it’s a single.’ I swear there are even better ones on the album, so I’m really excited.»

For years, the artist’s personal life was a well-kept secret. Many even believed that she hid her identity in public appearances, music videos, or shows to maintain her anonymity and privacy. This was far from reality since the artist had shown her face in her early music career.


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What led her to hide behind a wig and create the persona of Sia was her journey to recovery from alcoholism: «It was the only way I could get on stage. When I stopped drinking, I had to put a f***ing wig on my face. When I started to get sober, that’s when I put the wig on my face and wore headphones. I thought it was like I was in a little bubble with myself. Maybe someday I’ll do a show with my face uncovered and have some fun talking to the audience, getting booed, and being present again because those shows were so much fun before I put on the wig. I mean, what happened to me at that time is I thought I couldn’t do it with my face uncovered anymore because I was sober, and I thought, ‘What can I do?'»

The interesting thing about that decision is that it worked. The music remained the same, but now the artist had a unique and captivating image: «The wig thing happened, and suddenly, I became bigger than I had ever been. I realized that the only thing missing from pop music was mystery. I’m very grateful because it was actually something that happened by accident. It was truly something caused because I couldn’t perform without alcohol.»

But not everything was bad news in Sia’s life during all these years. The singer also spoke with Lowe about her recent autism diagnosis: «I can talk about it now because I know a bit more. It took me 20 years to make ‘Music.’ I made the music and wrote the movie with a friend; it took me 20 years to think it and then five or six years to make it and then edit it. Then I got into a stupid Twitter argument with an autistic person, and guess what? Ironically, my friend Kathy Griffin told me, ‘I think you’re autistic.’ So I did a neuropsychological assessment that took 18 hours over five or six days. It turns out I’m level 2 autistic. There are three levels: one is Asperger’s, two is pretty autistic, and three is non-verbal.»

It was a kind of liberation for her and made many pieces of her life fall into place: «It made so much sense to me because I’ve struggled all my life, I’ve suffered a lot and didn’t know why. I felt like I had to put on a ‘person suit’ all the time to go out and be part of the world. Personally, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m very grateful to Kathy Griffin for that.»

When asked about one of her regular collaborators, Rihanna, Sia explained that she is very proud of the artist and enjoyed her Super Bowl performance to the fullest: «I was on vacation in Mexico watching her, and I was very proud. I couldn’t stop moving behind the couch, from side to side, saying, ‘Go, girl! Go!’ Pregnant and fabulous. I adore her; she won’t release anything unless she writes it herself. I love that about her… There are other artists who are okay with people recognizing their voice in a song, but Rihanna only wants to do the song, and I really love her for that.»