The man behind the songs
Sam Dixon

Samuel Dixon has toiled away as a professional musician since the early 90s, yet the 37-year-old from Adelaide isn't pining for his big break.

He's happy to stay out of the spotlight, performing with and writing for such singing superstars as Adele, Christina Aguilera and fellow South Australian and long-time friend, Sia Furler.

Dixon is best known for co-writing hits for Sia, including Clap Your Hands, which is nominated for Song of the Year at the 2011 APRA Music Awards.

"I'm not a singer. I'm not going to be putting out An Evening with Sam Dixon," he jokes. "I'm definitely a collaborator. I'm definitely someone who works with other people."

When we spoke, the songwriter and bassist was back in London - his home for the past seven years - after Adele was forced to cancel her US tour due to laryngitis.

Dixon, who has played bass in Adele's touring outfit since last November, puts the amazing English songstress' ailment down to a non-stop workload since her second album, 21, exploded worldwide.

"The reason why I think she's ended up crook now is that she can't not sing at 100 per cent," he says.

Adele
"Even at sound check, she'll be singing at her absolute maximum level. We've been on a talk show in Holland at midnight and needed to be at a radio station at 6am the following morning to do a live-to-air performance, and she's blitzed it."

With Adele's notorious fear of flying seemingly conquered (or, at least, well managed), Dixon hopes he can convince her to tour Australia sometime soon.

In the meantime, Dixon will continue working with a variety of artists, including Duffy, Suzanne Vega, Corinne Bailey Rae, KT Tunstall and the Presets - and, of course, his pal Sia.

Christina Aguilera
Dixon first met the quirky singer back in the early 90s, when he was touring with Sydney acid jazz purveyors Directions in Groove and she was a member of nascent Adelaide outfit, Crisp.

In 2002, the then London-based Sia came home and recruited Dixon for an intense 10 days of writing for her third solo album, Colour the Small One. They wrote 13 songs, six of which ended up on the album, released in 2004. Dixon followed Sia back to England to play on the album and launch a post-DIG career writing and recording with other artists.

He co-wrote five songs on Sia's 2008 album Some People Have Real Problems and four on last year's We Are Born, including Clap Your Hands.

"We understand each other and when you've written a lot together, you're fine with the other party saying it's not working or let's change that," says Dixon, who has also played bass in Sia's band.

Sia
When Christina Aguilera asked Sia to collaborate on tracks for her next album, the Aussie singer brought her friend along for the incredible ride. Dixon ended up co-writing and producing four tracks on Aguilera's 2010 album, Bionic.

He says all pre-conceived notions about the superstar diva disappeared once she walked into the studio. "It's nerve-wracking heading there and when you've not met the person for the first time, once you do you realise that they're just human as well," he says. "Everyone wants to come up with something great, everyone has the same goal."

The Bionic sessions went so well that last year Aguilera called on Sia and Dixon to write a song for the Burlesque soundtrack. Their collaboration, Bound to You, went on to earn a Golden Globe nomination. Dixon says it was an amazing opportunity to "have a little peak inside Hollywood".

Dixon, who is too busy to fly home for the 2011 APRA Music Awards, says he feels "insanely lucky" to ply his trade alongside the incredible voices of Adele, Sia and Aguilera.

"These days there's so much Auto-Tuning and synthesised vocal correction software happening, especially in pop music, and the three artists you mentioned are just all phenomenal, proper singers who don't need any of that," he says. "It's how it should be. It's amazing. I'm very lucky."

The 2011 APRA Music Awards will be held in Sydney on Tuesday, June 21.

For more on the APRA Awards read Friday's Today section of the West Australian

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