there is no fear
M.I.A. Canada bound?
By JASON MacNEIL -- Special to Sun Media
Genre-bending performer Maythangi (Maya) Arulpragasam, known to many simply as M.I.A., is making the most of her current U.S. concerts.
The 29-year-old British/Sri Lankan singer, who released the smash sophomore album Kala last year, will be leaving her New York City apartment when her one-year work visa expires in June.
M.I.A.'s father was once a soldier in the Sri Lankan terrorist organization Tamil Tigers, hence the problems with U.S. immigration officials, who previously denied her entry in 2006.
"I figured I might as well do a few more shows in America before I may not be allowed back in or ever get a chance to come back again," she says. "It's nice to tour around America and do every gig like it's your last gig.
"I might have to move to Canada," she adds. "I'm thinking of moving to Montreal in June when I leave my apartment. Basically at the moment I can choose between Montreal and London. My mum's like, 'I want you here!' I haven't seen her in, like, forever, so I have to choose between my mum and Montreal."
M.I.A., performing June 2 at the Sound Academy, says she might already have a suitor willing to walk down the aisle to keep her Stateside: Kanye West.
"I was at his show four days ago and he was like, 'You have to make this song with me,' " she says. "I turned him down for the last album (West's 2007 release, Graduation) so he's really pissed off about it. (But) I think he'll marry me to keep me in the country. He was really dead serious about it."
Perhaps the reason for the alleged proposal is how well Kala came across to critics and fans alike.
From the infectious groove on Paper Planes and Bird Flu to tunes such as Boyz and the marching band percussion-driven XR2, M.I.A. says she knew she was on to something great.
"I knew that being calculating about what makes a hit and stuff would be easy," she says.
"You just have to find the right producers and the right hooks that sounds like the song that's another hit in the other club. But I wanted to make a document that respected the art of making an album because it's a dying breed."
And while M.I.A. is getting offers to collaborate with Beastie Boys and West, she's also branching out into other realms, including starting her own fashion line.
"I have it on at the moment," she says.
"I made loads of stuff and at the moment there are boxes of it in my mum's living room which I have to get out of there. I think the label thing is going to be really good. It's the thing I'm most excited about, just making limited editions of clothes that come out whenever I make something.
"It's not like a proper label, like how J. Lo or Jay-Z does it with Rocawear. It's something a lot more underground."
Concentrating on the fashion line might temporarily take away from her music side, but M.I.A. says getting away from it for awhile could end up being a creative plus.
"The thing is, if you're making music, you have to keep your imagination fresh and be excited about something," she says. "You shouldn't feel like you have a factory and you're turning stuff out. And there's so much pressure in America, especially in the hip-hop mentality, to work like that 24/7."
Beside the fashion line, looking for a new pad and working on a record label which Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine created for her, M.I.A. says she'll also work on some art projects. "I'm not thinking entirely about an album, it's just a matter of what I sing and keep writing and if it turns into an album then that's cool," she says. "I think you always have to make music as if you can walk away from it tomorrow."
M.I.A. (real name Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam)
M.I.A. is launching her own clothing line. She's reportedly designing bomber jackets, leggings and t-shirts. The clothes are said to feature graphic prints and bold colors. No word yet when the collection will be coming out.
picture: Cassette Playa's Myspace page