While promoting her new album, This Is Acting, Sia sat down (presumably after downing a few shots of truth serum) for a rather revealing interview with Rolling Stone—where she pretty much laid bare every fascinating piece of gossip the music industry has to offer.
Although the singer-songwriter has worked with every major recording artist there is, she had some pretty interesting things to say specifically about the unexpectedly flaky Rihanna and Kanye West, the ever-perfect Adele—and yes, even the "boring" (wait, really?) Katy Perry. Read on for the highlights, then read the full interview here.
On being stood up by Kanye West and Rihanna: "They'll entice me into a session by saying, 'Rihanna will definitely be there' or 'Kanye will definitely be there,' but it's hilarious because I turn up and, almost always, they never come. So I went into the studio to write for Rihanna with Kanye and neither of them showed up and stayed for less than an hour. They had two tracks. They told me what they had wanted. There were notes from Kanye, and I can't even remember what they were. I remember I just raced in and raced out, and I thought there was something about the chorus that seemed fun about this song, but I never thought it would see the light of day. My manager pushed for this song ['Reaper'] to be on the record, but I don't care about it."
On working with Adele: "Well, she's extremely talented, so it was really easy. It's funny because both of us are quite dominant because we are both skillful at our jobs of songwriting or singing. I think that maybe we're not dominant but confident. I think because we're both very confident in our skills, we're just naturally alpha in some way in terms of our work...I remember the day after I wrote with Adele. I wrote her saying, 'I'm just writing because I want to make sure I wasn't too overly dominant. I'm feeling a bit insecure that it was a bit annoying working with me as opposed to satisfying.' That was what my experience was like. I felt kind of insecure. I'm a fan and I want to do a good job and I want to work for the artist when I'm writing with them. Sometimes that can bring up insecurities. Then she wrote me back and was like, 'What are you talking about?' [Laughs] I was like 'Riiight, OK!'"
On the "boring" task of collaborating with Katy Perry: "That's what was interesting about writing with Katy Perry because, again, it's her voice at the end of the day. She's also quite dominant, and she's extremely analytical. I actually quit within the first hour of our first session. I was like, 'Can we both agree this doesn't work? Like our whole songwriting dynamic? And she was like, 'I love it. It's like a puzzle to me. It's like a crossword.' And I was like, 'But this is boring for me. The analysis is totally boring for me. It feels like the enemy of creativity.' It was so cool to be able to have that conversation on why we wrote in such entirely different ways. I'm glad I didn't give up on it because I actually did get a song out of it, and we also really had a laugh because we were able to be authentic."
On Beyoncé's "Frankenstein" approach to songwriting: "The process is like a writing camp, essentially. She flies us all in and puts us all up. We all live in a house together — like five producers and five topline writers. She visits each room and will contribute and let us know what she's feeling and what she's not feeling. Lyrically, melodically, anything. She's very Frankenstein when she comes to songs. She'll say, 'I like the verse from that. I like the pre-chorus from that. Can you try mixing it with that?' In the end, she had maybe 25 songs of mine on hold, and I was very excited to get a couple of them back. Definitely one is on the album."
On recording the songs other stars passed on: "Mostly we've been pitching on Rihanna for the last couple years because she's been looking for a couple years. Well, it feels like a couple years. It might be one year. They're always looking for that first single. I didn't send as much to Beyoncé, though I do know she's working on something. One of them is a Shakira reject, which there's no doubt when you hear it. You'll know that it was a Shakira reject because I sound like Shakira. Oh, yeah! There is a Beyonce reject on there. It's one of my favorite songs, actually. I really like it. We did that in the Hamptons session we did years ago for the most recent album she did. I got 'Pretty Hurts' from that album, but originally I wrote 25 songs for it while we were in the Hamptons and one made the record. Isn't that amazing?"
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