Mama M.I.A.

M.I.A. set aside some special time for us while on tour with Gwen Stefani in Buenos Aires to chat about her newfound success and foreseeable future.

MF: How do you like South America?

MIA: I'm really excited about Buenos Aires; the people here have the maddest style. Coming here really inspires me to make music and art. I'd like to come back and spend a month here, maybe buy a house.

MF: How has Arular lived up to your expectations?

MIA: It's amazing; I'm loving it. Being able to come to South America and travel the world-it's beyond my expectations. And the way my album has been received in America just blows my mind. Yeah, it's crazy. The other day I was in Brazil and I got chased on this mountain because people recognized me. That's kind of mad, you know?

MF: How is your success treating you?

MIA: I'm happy. If there is anything I really want to do it's to be able to make music-and people like me for that. The thing that is most important to me is to be respected for my work, and I've achieved that. Right now I'm just focusing on getting better at it and making sure I can do it again on my next record.

MF: How do guys treat you now that you've found success as an artist?

MIA: The way men perceive me has totally changed. If you're a successful woman and you've got your independence and you don't need anyone-it really backfires. Maybe men are intimidated, I don't know.

MF: Who's listening to MIA?

MIA: It's just kids who are into something new, that are really open-minded, really positive. All the girls seem to be the types of girls who like dancing and they're into their sexuality. They know who they are; they're confident.

MF: What do you think about when you're performing?

MIA: I think about who's turned up for the gig. And whether they're going to like each other. You know-can they hang out with each other? All the kids come to the show and they're drinking and hanging out-I just want it to be a place where people can meet other really nice, cool people and they can have beers and be a part of something creative.

MF: What do you do to stay in shape? Are you into working out?

MIA: Of course not. [Laughs] I wish. I've never been to a gym in my life. Not yet. All my energy onstage comes from nerves.

MF: You've got your own unique style. Have you received pressure from the industry to be something you're not?

MIA: I do my own shit. I don't need any of that, you know? I get really unhappy when other people tell me what to do, what to say, what to wear. For me to be normal and have a healthy psyche, I just need to be me. Whatever captures my eye is what I pick up and wear and then get on with it. If a guy doesn't fancy me in what I've got on, if my clothes are too baggy, then fuck him anyway.

I just want to get on with being a chick that didn't use sex to get anything. Every step of the way, every opportunity I've had, I got on my own. I've never been anyone's bitch-I don't need that, someone giving me money to get my hair done or whatever. I've had that opportunity and I couldn't do it; it wasn't in me.

MF: Are you working on any new music?

MIA: In December I'm going to India to record a couple of songs. I was just in Rio with Diplo and I'm going back to see him for a few days. If we get work done, then we get work done, but there is no pressure. We are so spontaneous-we never get anything done if we plan it. When I get back to New York, I'll be doing some work with Timbaland.

MF: So how long is it going to be before we see something new from MIA?

MIA: It won't be too, too long. I'm just working on finding a new way of doing things. I don't know what it is yet. I might do a mix tape or something before I put the proper album out. I want to do something for the Internet, like what I did with Piracy Funds Terrorism-an Internet-only mix tape I did with Diplo. Something to make people feel more involved.

MF: What are your plans for after the Gwen Stefani tour?

MIA: I might buy an old Spanish house in Argentina. Or I could move to India and buy a little shack and record songs. I want to record in all different countries. I want to keep it spontaneous.

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