Sia — The Alchemy of Blockbuster Songs, Billions of Views, and the Face You’ve Never Seen (#452)

Illustration via 99designs

I don’t think that I’m necessarily, like, a super-talented songwriter. I think I’m just really productive. One out of 10 songs is a hit. So where a lot of people will spend three weeks on one song, I will write 10 in three weeks.

— Sia

Sia (@sia) is an Australian singer, songwriter, director, screenwriter, and pop icon. Her current single, “Together,” is from her forthcoming album and motion picture, Music, due out later this year. In 2019, Sia partnered with Diplo and Labrinth to form the group LSD. Their debut album, Labrinth, Sia & Diplo Present… LSD has one billion+ streams to date. She released the Grammy-nominated This Is Acting (Monkey Puzzle/RCA Records) in 2016 to much critical acclaim and cemented her role as one of today’s biggest stars and sought-after live performers with her sold-out Nostalgic for the Present headline tour.

Sia has more videos in YouTube’s Billion Views Club than any other female on the planet. Her massive single “Cheap Thrills” was a multi-format global radio hit and one of the longest-running singles in the Top 40 in 2016. Along with her own successes, Sia has written global smashes for today’s biggest acts, including Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, and many more.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Brought to you by Athletic Greens, Thrive Market, and LinkedIn Jobs. More on all three below. 

The transcript of this episode can be found here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

#452: Sia — The Alchemy of Blockbuster Songs, Billions of Views, and the Face You’ve Never Seen

This podcast is brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is usually Athletic Greens, my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body in 2010 and did not get paid to do so. I do my best with nutrient-dense meals, of course, but AG further covers my bases with vitamins, minerals, and whole-food-sourced micronutrients that support gut health and the immune system. 

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This episode is also brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. Whether you are looking to hire now for a critical role or thinking about needs that you may have in the future, LinkedIn Jobs can help. LinkedIn screens candidates for the hard and soft skills you’re looking for and puts your job in front of candidates looking for job opportunities that match what you have to offer.

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This episode is also brought to you by Thrive Marketwhich saves me a ton of money and is perfect for these crazy times. Thrive Market is a membership-based site on a mission to make healthy living easy and affordable for everyone. You can find all types of food, supplements, nontoxic home products, clean wine, dog food—just about anything. Members earn wholesale prices every day and save an average of $30 on each order. I personally saved $39 on my most recent order. 

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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.


Want to hear an episode with another artist who makes her own rules? Listen to my conversation with Amanda Palmer in which we discuss books, trauma and grief, crowdfunding, understanding the role of pain, and much more.

#368: Amanda Palmer on Creativity, Pain, and Art


      • Connect with Sia:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


      • Let’s start the interview on (the topic of) ketamine. [05:21]
      • Sia shares her experience with attachment theory, the work she’s doing to repair her own attachment injuries, and the outcomes she’s noticed. [11:34]
      • Sia explains what it was like growing up around her father’s dissociative identity disorder. [21:45]
      • Is Sia Keyser Söze? [28:03]
      • What is Sia’s most ironic tattoo? [30:00]
      • Why Sia believes there’s no such thing as being bad at meditation, and what her own practice looks like. [30:57]
      • In the process of writing over a hundred pop songs, Sia has tried everything from channeling to methods that are more self-destructive. [37:49]
      • High concepts, milking metaphors, cheesetastic anthems, and what the songwriting process looks like for Sia today. [46:38]
      • How do publishing percentages work in the music industry for people involved in the creation of a song? In other words, how does the money get split? [50:52]
      • Early in 2016, Sia told The Guardian that she considered herself more prolific than super-talented as a songwriter. What’s changed since then? [57:38]
      • Curiously enough, Sia doesn’t really listen to music when she’s not making it. Why? [59:53]
      • Why Sia is eager to show the world (especially aspiring young singers) a video of how bad of a singer she was at age 12. [1:03:26]
      • What compelled Sia to begin hiding her face and having other people — like dancer Maddie Ziegler — appear in her stead at center stage for videos, photos, and live performances? [1:06:26]
      • Sia gives us some background about Music, the musical drama film project she’s currently working on with Dallas Clayton, Maddie Ziegler, Kate Hudson, and Leslie Odom Jr. [1:12:51]
      • What made Sia commit to adopting two teenagers? [1:22:27]
      • Parting thoughts. [1:28:24]


The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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11 Replies to “Sia — The Alchemy of Blockbuster Songs, Billions of Views, and the Face You’ve Never Seen (#452)”

  1. Tim, I just listened to your podcast and I’d like to get in touch with the center Sia went to in LA. I believe I have an attachment injury and this podcast has resonated with me. I have been trying to find the right people to talk to for help and I think they might be the right ones.

      1. Zak,

        I was wondering which ketamine clinic she was speaking of in LA as well.

  2. Tim, I just finished the podcast and it has helped me figure out what’s wrong with me finally after years and years of searching. I believe I have an attachment injury and I would like to know how I could get in touch with the people Sia saw in LA to help treat her.

  3. Imagine, if you’re old enough and lucky enough to have seen Sia when she did regular weekend gigs with a band called Crisp, only to then find out … she’s everywhere.

  4. Dear Tim,

    I would like to recommend the German neuroscientist and former Harvard professor Prof. Dr. Manfred Spitzer to your show. He has done incredible work to gather and uncover the effects of digitalisation on children and adult brain development, as well as the impacts on the psychological, social and physical health. Next to the already important and discussed aspects of a healthy lifestyle such as nutrition, exercise, sleep and spirituality, he completes this field with many insights into brain development, education and the current threats of digitalisation.

    He is well known in Germany and it is time that his insights are spreading more internationally.

    It would be great to have him on the show!

    Kind regards,

  5. Hey Tim, sorry for off topic, but I’m sure you’re aware of what’s going on in Belarus right now. If you could somehow help bring world’s attention to the awful events, that would be really appreciated by every single one of us here! Even a short Twitter post will do! Thanks!

  6. i listened to this and it was so helpful for me. thank you to you and sia for sharing so much about breathing, concentration, attachment theory. sometimes life gets rough and it does take a lot of courage to talk about things. i don’t have as much courage as you two. but it made me feel better and gave me the little bit of strength to see that maybe i could. lots of love. meli.

  7. this is one of my favourite episodes ever. Sia is magical, so honest and beautiful. Can’t stop listening to her songs since then. It gave a total new meaning to her lyrics.