Australian-born singer Sia is best known to American audiences for "Breathe Me," a track that exploded after being featured on the soundtrack to Six Feet Under ("I have a lot to thank that music supervisor for," she laughs), her work with Zero 7 and the head-squishing video for "Buttons," which came out last summer before the release of her latest album, Some People Have Real Problems. "During recording people would come in and complain about traffic, and I'd say, 'Some people have real problems.' Like, they're waiting for a lung or they don't have a mum," she says. "I thought it would be a funny name for an album. And then I thought if I were to get rich and successful I would remember to not turn into an asshole. But I am one, so it didn't work."
In the spirit of her album title, Rock Daily quizzed Sia about stars with real troubles. "I asked Amy Winehouse to do a collaboration and she said, 'No way.' And I was like, 'Why not?' And she said, 'I"m intimidated by you. I"ve been listening to you since I was a teenager,' " Sia says. "I was totally shocked because she's my favorite contemporary voice. I"ve met her a couple of times and I kind of stalk her. I've got her phone number and whenever I listen to her album and I love it I text her and say, 'I'm listening to it again, it's so good!' She never responds. She doesn't really respond to anyone, she doesn't do e-mail."
When Sia asked Beck to contribute to the album, he too ignored her e-mail — but she was able to track him down more easily via his longtime producer Nigel Godrich (who was once a member of Zero 7). "I had a day where I gathered all of my friends to help me sing backing vocals 'cause I wanted a big choir-y sound on 'Death By Chocolate,' " she explains. "He came down and I asked him if he would sing on 'Academia.' I had already asked him in an e-mail but he hadn't responded, so I asked him in person. Now when people Google 'Beck,' my name comes up. So he's basically doing me a big favor."