M.I.A., who is planning to release her third album /\/\/\Y/\ in July, is featured on the cover and in the pages of the new issue of Complex magazine. In her coverstory interview, M.I.A. (née Mathangi Maya Arulpragasam) talks about her young son Ikhyd, the end of the world, her preference of LA over NYC and more! Here is M.I.A.‘s beautiful Complex magazine coverphoto and some excerpts from her interview:
As a mom, do you hope for struggles for your son in his lifetime?
M.I.A.: I don’t hope for them, but he’s probably going to have them. I think their generation is probably going to have the craziest, you know?
In what respect?
M.I.A.: Any kid being born in these times is gonna have to be resilient to a million and one things. We thought we’d seen it all, and our parents thought that they’d seen it, but every generation it gets more and more intense.
Did you see much violence growing up?
M.I.A.: Yeah, all the time. My kid’s gonna see it, but he’s gonna see it in computer games. I don’t know which is worse. The fact that I saw it in my life has maybe given me lots of issues, but there’s a whole generation of American kids seeing violence on their computer screens and then getting shipped off to Afghanistan.
What was your impression of America when you were little?
M.I.A.: The first place I came to was L.A., and I just loved it. From the airplane looking out the window, the landscape just shines—all the lights are twinkling, all the cars are reflecting the sun. It was very Tinseltown. If you’re coming from Sri Lanka and you want to experience the West, that was the extreme end of Western civilization to me—the vastness of L.A. was truly different. I wasn’t impressed with New York, ’cause it’s a bigger version of London. But L.A. was kinda cool.
Has your idea of America changed as you’ve grown up?
M.I.A.: When I first came in the mid-’90s, I was listening to loads of hip-hop, and the gangsta-rap era completely engulfed me. There’s where I spent my time. Those were the clubs I went to, and those were the people I was hanging out with, so I had a weird understanding of it. But now I get to see a bigger picture of America. It’s different.
M.I.A.: The thing that I enjoyed about it when I came to L.A. was that it was just people doing whatever they liked. It was your life and you could do things and you were in charge. There were barbecues all the time in every park, house parties. Just so much more joy. And now it doesn’t seem like that. And it’s because it’s so expensive there. By the time you’ve got to doing your house, insurance, your car, and paid a bill for your baby, it’s just too hard for you to have any fun, you know?
Do you have a process, or do you create when you feel like it?
M.I.A.: I’m really into some sort of digital ruckus and that’s kind of what it is in the sound and imagery. I don’t wanna say it’s chaotic, but if we’re being given certain tools, it’s rediscovering and reassembling, I suppose. The bottom line is: Sometimes my work is really uncomfortable and doesn’t sit well, but that’s the point. It’s OK to push it out this far—someone’s gonna be like, “But I like it over here.” But at least the door’s open and you’ve pushed it that far, so the possibility of a range can exist.
Are you conscious of trying to make art to live up to your reputation, or do you start clean every time?
M.I.A.: It really depends on what you’re going through at the time. The last album I was making was really chaotic. I was traveling all the time and was just mad, angry, pissed off. I threw the hard drive out the window with “Paper Planes” on it and was like, “Fuck this song.” Luckily, it didn’t smash. But the world has changed since I worked on the last album. I started with writing an intro for it, the intro was, “Connected to the Google/connected to the government.” That was like 10 months ago, and every day I felt more and more like I was tuned into whatever was going on.
What was it that was going on?
M.I.A.: Google is the most powerful corporation in the world, and why do you think that is? It’s ’cause they log the most data and they collect the most information and that’s the thing that everyone’s gonna want and that’s the thing that no one’s gonna have. That’s what it’s about and it’s important to tell people in the street or poor people to arm themselves with knowledge ’cause that shit’s a commodity.
I just love her. She speaks her mind openly and honestly and whether or not you agree with her opinions, you’ve got to give her credit for so openly sticking to her guns. She’s a genius, both musically and otherwise. I can’t wait to hear her entire new album. After the jump, check out a few photos from M.I.A.‘s Complex magazine photospread — the photos are really striking … More »