Why Sia, a Pop Song Mastermind, Shies Away From Fame

Australian pop star is the force behind smash hit singles like "Diamonds" and "Chandelier," but wants to stay in the shadows.
7:59 | 12/23/14

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:

{{nextVideo.title}}

{{nextVideo.description}}

Skip to this video now

Now Playing:

{{currentVideo.title}}

Comments
Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Why Sia, a Pop Song Mastermind, Shies Away From Fame
Her name is Sia. She's the anti-celebrity celebrity. She's worked with the biggest names as a song writer, and yet, when it comes to her own hits, her choices are, shall we say, unconventional. She doesn't even show her own face. So, tonight, we're exploring fame with a star who actually has written an anti-fame manifesto. Here's ABC's Chris Connelly. Reporter: This incredible voice has soared to the top of the pop charts. The voice of 39-year-old Sia furler. Sia, as she is known, has chosen not to show her face on camera when she performs live. Or speaks to the media. You don't really do entertainment stories, really, that much, right? Reporter: Not like this, I don't. What makes this the right decision for you to turn your back away from the camera? Well, I don't want to be famous. Or recognizable. I don't want to be critiqued about the way that I look on the internet. I was at target the other day buying a hose and nobody recognized me and my song was on the radio and I thought, okay, this experiment is working. Reporter: With the video featuring this gifted young dancer, Sia's hit single helped her album enter the charts at number one. In what way was it different from what else we were hearing on the radio? I guess because it has a dark undertone. Sad, right? Reporter: She's earned four grmmy nominations and a golden globe for her nod for her song from "Annie," "Opportunity." ? Standing right in front of me ? Reporter: But Sia has been face to face with full-on celebrity. It's not for her. I've been writing pop songs for pop stars for a couple of years and have become friends with them and see what their life is like. And it's -- that's just not something I want. Reporter: Kyes, that. Sia's become one of pop's most successful song writers. Her resume is a who's huge of music superstars. ? We're beautiful ? ? like diamonds in the sky ? Reporter: Rihanna's "Diamo "Diamonds." Flo-rye day's "Wild ones." And David guetta's "Tie tame one." How long did it take you to write that? 40 minutes, maybe, and half an hour to record the vocals. ? Reporter: That's amazing. What gets you started on a lyric? Well, I usually choose one solid concept. I see a chandelier. Then I'm like, okay, how can I use that? That's a strong title. Reporter: Times her songs pass through more than one artist's hands. Take the song "Pretty hurt." I wrote it on the sofa three years ago for Katy Perry. I sent it to her. Then I sent it to probably Rihanna and beyonce's people and beyonce just slid it into home base and threw the money down. It was an awkward situation. ? so, Rihanna's engineer had a great idea, he was like, why don't you play her "Diamonds?" Rihanna was like, this is mine. ? Like diamonds in the sky ? Reporter: Everybody goes home happy. Yeah, that's how we like it here at Chez Sia. Reporter: Why step out and become a artist again? I didn't think this music would get hurt otherwise. Reporter: In 2005, her song "Breathe me" was used in the finale of "Six feet under." ? I have lost myself again ? I was extreme limb ly depressed at the time. Reporter: It wasn't just alcohol for you, was it? Oh, no. I don't think I ever would have stopped drinking had I not got hooked on zantac and oxycontin. Reporter: She holed up in her home in 2010, contemplating suicide. She found her way to a 12-step program. Was like, oh, my god, this is what was wrong with me all along. Reporter: So that we might see her creative process at work, Sia took us downstairs for a session with slcollaborator Chris spray. As we watched and listen, Sia began to fashion a pop melody, right there on the stop. ? So, that's all we would do. Can we have a copy of that? Nice work. And then have, like, Rihanna cut it next week. Reporter: How much do you tweak the words after you write them? I don't tweak them at all. I can make any word fit. ? I want to live like tomorrow doesn't exist ? like command leer and exist. If you bend them in certain ways. Reporter: A hook, a distinctive word, the repetition of a strong concept. It's how these two came up with Britney's hit "Perfume." I don't even know if I know the words. We write these songs in, like, 40 minutes and then we just send them to somebody and then we never really refer back to them ever again. Reporter: Pass through your life in an afternoon. Yes. ? Is there still a longing the there ? ? live just you and me ? ? sometimes it feels like there's three of us ? ? in here baby ? I just lift these concepts off, like, crap television. And then, like, it's so fun, and I apply them to music. Reporter: That's why we love this pop muse you can, though, isn't it? Yeah, because it gets -- there's a story or it makes us feel good or it makes us feel sad. Reporter: But the odds of the public of the getting to listen to Sia in concert aren't good. Touring is just not on her menu. I mean, I did imagine it, but I've unimagined it. It may change, but right now, that's not on the cards for me. Reporter: She has performed on "The Ellen DeGeneres show" and "Jimmy Kimmel live," with her back to the audience. And dance moms star, 12-year-old Maddie Zeigler in a blond wig, which Sia notes is part of the concept. The concept of creating a brand, which is an inanimate object. You can put anyone under it. A man, a woman, a dog. And then everyone can be the singer. Very happy person. She's very awesome. Like, very caring for everybody. We did "Jimmy Kimmel live," she didn't face the front, she wanted to have face paint. Reporter: Years ago, when Sia was Maddie's age, colin hay from men at work introduced her to Stevie wonder. He said, I hope you're happy and successful in everything you do. Reporter: Are you? Yeah. Reporter: Can you believe it? I -- I do have -- I do spend a lot of time, like, pinching myself. I have to say, it's been pretty amazing. I might cry. It's been really amazing. The last couple of years have just been, since I made the decision to just take care of my own sanity and serenity and stuff, my life has just improved so much. And I'm honestly surprised that things are working out so well for me. Reporter: I'm Chris Connell little for "Nightline" in los Angeles. Next --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"7:59","description":"Australian pop star is the force behind smash hit singles like \"Diamonds\" and \"Chandelier,\" but wants to stay in the shadows. ","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"27782498","title":"Why Sia, a Pop Song Mastermind, Shies Away From Fame","url":"/Nightline/video/sia-pop-song-mastermind-shies-fame-27782498"}