M.I.A. a.k.a. Maya Arulpragasam

Maya was born in Hounslow, London but spent little time there as, at only 6 months old, her parents moved the family back to their native Sri Lanka. Motivated by her fathers wish to support the Tamil efforts to win independence from the majority Sinhalese population, her father became politically known as Arular and was a founder member of EROS (the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students), a militant Tamil group.

In Sri Lanka, they lived at first on her grandparent’s remote farm, a collection of huts without electricity or running water. After a year, as her fathers involvement in militant activities increased, Maya, her older sister Kali and their mother moved to Jaffna in the far North of the country, where Maya's younger brother Sugu was born. Contact with her father was strictly limited as he was in hiding from the army, he occasionally visited in secret, slipping through the window at night and being introduced to the children as an uncle so that they didn't give him away to the army when they regularly came to question the family.

Eventually, as the civil war escalated, it became unsafe for them to stay in Sri Lanka, so her father sent tickets for them to relocate to Madras in India. Maya’s mother moved with the three children into an almost derelict house, 3 miles from the nearest road or neighbour. They scraped by for a while, with sporadic visits from Maya’s father, and the girls attended the local school, excelling as students. After a while, visits from friends and family grew less frequent and money grew very tight. The children became ill, Maya’s sister caught Typhoid and they struggled to eat enough. A visiting uncle took concern and moved them back to Sri Lanka again, where they settled back in Jaffna.

By now, the violence of the civil war was at its peak and the family repeatedly tried to flee the country. The army regularly shot Tamils seeking to move across border areas and bombed roads and escape routes.

After several failed attempts to leave, Maya’s mother successfully made it out with the three children, on to India and then finally back to London, where they were housed as refugees.

It was in the late eighties and on a notoriously racist council estate in Mitcham, Surrey, that Maya began to learn English. Aged just eleven and in a new country, she was exposed to western radio for the first time by the noise resonating from her neighbours. Her affinity with hip-hop and rap began from there - the uncompromising attitudes of Public Enemy and N.W.A. clicked with a frustrated, energetic war-child trying to relate to grey and foreign surroundings.

Maya was a talented and creative student, eventually winning a place at London's Central Saint Martins Art School, where she studied fine art, film and video. Here, for the first time, she began to piece together some of the different strands of her life experience. In an early incarnation of what was later to become M.I.A., she learnt how to play off her different cultural personae against each other; layering rap iconography with the warfare pictures from her youth, Asian Britain with American new-wave film making style and St. Martin's fashion sense with refugee outlooks.

A successful art career beckoned and, for a while, seemed to be Maya's destined path. Her first-ever public

exhibition of paintings featured candy coloured spray-paint and stencil pictures of the Tamil terrorist movement. Graffitied tigers and palm trees mixed with orange, green and pink camouflage, bombs, guns and freedom fighters on chip board off-cuts and canvases. The show was nominated for the alternative Turner prize, every painting sold and a monograph book of the collection was published by Pocko (which was simply entitled 'M.I.A.', an acronym for Missing In Acton).

A commission from Elastica's Justine Frischmann to provide the artwork and cover image for the band's second album led to Maya following the band on tour around forty American states, video-documenting the event. The support act on the tour was electro-clash supremo Peaches, who introduced Maya to the Roland MC-505 sequencing machine and gave her the courage to take on the one art-form she felt least confident in, music.

Back home in London, Maya and Justine got hold of their own 505 and, working with the simplest of set-ups (a second-hand 4-track, the 505 and a radio mic), Maya worked-up a series of six songs onto a demo tape which became her calling card to the industry. The tape found it's way into the hands of Steve Mackey and Ross Orton who then re-worked “Galang” into the monstrous meld of influences that would eventually propel M.I.A. into the limelight.

An addictive mashed-up recipe of dancehall, electro, grime and world music, Showbiz Records only pressed up 500 copies of “Galang” but that was enough for her to go on and win the instant support of DJs and the media seemingly everywhere – “M.I.A. HAS THE LOOK, THE LYRICS, THE PROFILE, THE MONGREL BEATS TO BE HUGE. IF THE MAJORS HAVE ANY SENSE, THEY'LL PILE IN.” Sunday Times Culture.

The majors did indeed pile in with M.I.A. eventually opting to sign to XL Recordings (home to Dizzee Rascal, Basement Jaxx and the White Stripes), embracing them as they were the only label to offer her 100% creative control. Meanwhile, the underground success of “Galang” had continued to spread, even earning M.I.A. plaudits in the American Press.

For her next single release (out early ’05 in the US), “Sunshowers,” Maya again hooked up again with Ross Orton and Steve Mackey who had furnished her so successfully with the insane electro-squelch and mangled beats on “Galang.” Hitting the UK airwaves this past June, they pushed boundaries even further with hyper-minimalist production and a reworked chorus from Dr. Buzzards Original Savannah Band’s track of the same name to create a hypnotic template for her to fire out her young-girl bravado, this time about guerilla warfare and the Tamil-Sinhalese civil war.

With this first single proper barely on the shelves and no gigs at all to her name, New York's Fader magazine made her their cover star with the strap-line ‘THIS IS M.I.A. - MUSIC'S NOW THING!’ She flew out to New York to perform her first ever live set (for the launch of the issue) to a screaming crowd of hyped fans and then stayed to see Matthew Williamson open and close his fashion week runway show with “Sunshowers.”

The accompanying video for “Galang”, featuring multiple M.I.A.’s amid a backdrop of her graffiti artwork animated and brought to life, was directed by Ruben Fleischer and art directed by M.I.A. herself. On the surface it looked like a colourful pop video but watch it carefully and you’ll see scenes of urban Britain and the ongoing Sri Lankan civil war being depicted and delivered with a wry sense of humour. M.I.A. is fast proving herself to be a far from ordinary pop star.

Her debut album, Arular, is set for release in February 2005. Titled in acknowledgment of her father's past, it follows the same philosophy that unites all strands of the M.I.A. project - cut and paste. The mix of production credits on the album all feature forays into new territory for the collaborators, with ex-Pulp member Steve Mackey doing dancehall and pop-maestro Richard X working with Sri Lankan nursery rhymes; and from her hand-sprayed artwork on the record sleeves, lyrics that mix Tamil, cockney and American slang to her tracksuits and hoodies specially sewn from the brightest, boldest African print fabrics, or Mowgli dance moves for ragga beats - M.I.A. creates culture clashes that work; ‘a unique voice unafraid to mix big issues with cool sounds’ (Harpers & Queen).


  1. 47 Soul



  4. AJ Tracey


  6. ARCON

  7. Ace Ventura

  8. Agbeko

  9. Agent Sasco & Dub Akom Band

  10. Agressor Bunx

  11. Alabama 3

  12. Almatic

  13. Alpha Portal

  14. Altern 8 LIVE

  15. Amy Becker

  16. Aries

  17. Ariwo

  18. Arrested Development

  19. Astrix

  20. Atterkop


  22. BEN UFO







  29. Baby Queens

  30. Back to the Planet

  31. Beans On Toast

  32. Beating Heart

  33. Benjamin Zephaniah & the Revolutionary Minds

  34. Berg

  35. Black Sun Empire

  36. Black Water County

  37. Blaggers ITA

  38. Blend Mishkin feat. Peppery

  39. Boys Noize

  40. Brinsley Forde, Founder of Aswad

  41. CASPA

  42. Captain Accident

  43. Captain Cactus & The Screaming Harlots

  44. Captain Hotknives

  45. Carl Craig

  46. Casual Nausea

  47. CaveMouth

  48. Chainska Brassika

  49. Champion

  50. Channel One

  51. China Shop Bull

  52. Chris Wood

  53. Conners & The Con Men

  54. Coppa

  55. Crash Nomada

  56. Cypress Hill

  57. DJ Format

  58. DJ POD

  59. DJ Storm

  60. DJ Vadim

  61. DUB TREES (dj set)

  62. DUSKY

  63. Dave Clarke

  64. Dawn Penn

  65. Deathmachine

  66. Deekline

  67. Delhi Sultanate

  68. Destructive Tendencies

  69. Dirty Diesel Outlaw Orchestra

  70. Disorda

  71. Dolphin

  72. Donae’o

  73. Dry White Bones

  74. Dub FX

  75. Dub Phizix & Strategy

  76. E.V.P


  78. EEON

  79. ESCAPE


  81. Earl Gateshead

  82. Earthling

  83. Easy Stride Band

  84. Ed Solo

  85. Ed West & Inja

  86. Efa Supertramp

  87. Elder Island

  88. Electrikal Sound System

  89. Elijah & Skilliam

  90. Eliza Carthy and The Wayward Band

  91. Empatee Du Weiss

  92. Emperor

  93. Escape Roots and Tom Spirals

  94. Eskorzo

  95. Eva Lazarus


  97. Faintest Idea

  98. Ferocious Dog

  99. First World Pros

  100. Floxytek

  101. Forbidden Society

  102. Fourward

  103. Fox (Swing Tings Takeover)

  104. Frank Turner

  105. Freestylers

  106. Friction

  107. Fungus Funk

  108. Future Frequency


  110. GEO

  111. Galak Spiritual

  112. Gaudi

  113. Gilles Peterson (DJ Set) + Earl Zinger

  114. GoGo Penguin


  116. Heartless Crew

  117. Hellfish

  118. Heymoonshaker

  119. Hodmadoddery

  120. Holly Holden y Su Banda

  121. Holy Goof

  122. Holy Moly & The Crackers

  123. Hoopy Frood

  124. Hujaboy

  125. Hylu feat. Zico, A.P Grimshaw & Kosher (Unit 137)

  126. Iba Mahr & Harar Band

  127. Icicle

  128. Imprints


  130. JOURNEY

  131. Jade

  132. Jago

  133. Jah9

  134. Jake Martin

  135. Jake and the Jellyfish

  136. James Ray & The Black Hearted Riders

  137. Jesse Royal

  138. Jungle Brown

  139. Junior Bill

  140. Juno Reactor

  141. Jus Now

  142. Just Say Nay

  143. K.I.M

  144. KENTA HAYASHI a.k.a Loop Pedal Ninja


  146. KOXBOX

  147. Kelvin 373

  148. King Sub

  149. Kioko

  150. Kit Hawes and Aaron Catlow

  151. Kumbia Queers

  152. Kíla

  153. L.A. Salami

  154. L33


  156. LIMEWAX

  157. LION UNIT (Lionpulse + Unit 137)

  158. La Inedita

  159. Lakuta

  160. Last Edition

  161. Lead Shot Hazard

  162. Legendary Shack Shakers

  163. Leo Samson

  164. Liam Bailey

  165. Lionpulse

  166. Los Dueños

  167. Los Fastidios

  168. Loyle Carner

  169. Lucas

  170. Lutan Fyah

  171. M.I.A.

  172. MAGIK



  175. MATERIA

  176. MEFJUS


  178. MONKI


  180. Mad Dog Mcrea

  181. Maid of Ace

  182. Maroon Town

  183. Matilda's Scoundrels

  184. Matt Montez Duo

  185. Mbongwana Star

  186. Mick O'Toole

  187. Mike Love

  188. Mr Vegas

  189. My Nu Leng & Dread MC

  190. NATZAN

  191. NEUTRON

  192. NIMBUS

  193. NIMI

  194. Nanoplex

  195. Nattali Rize

  196. Natty Bo & The Top Cats

  197. New Daze

  198. New Town Kings

  199. Noble Jacks

  200. Nomade Orquestra

  201. Nérija

  202. OCCULAR

  203. OPTIV & BTK

  204. OTT


  206. Ocean Wisdom

  207. PIEMAN



  210. PRO-GRAM


  212. Paradox

  213. Pareidolia

  214. Petrol Girls

  215. Phace

  216. Phosphenes

  217. Pizzatramp

  218. Portico Quartet

  219. Protoje

  220. QUANTA

  221. RAMA

  222. RAY KEITH


  224. Raging Fyah

  225. Randall

  226. Ras Kwame

  227. Real Roots & Ramon Judah

  228. Redlight

  229. Reel Big Fish

  230. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band

  231. Rockwell

  232. Runkus & The Old Skool Band

  233. Rusko

  234. Rusty Shackles

  235. S.P.Y

  236. S.P.Y.


  238. SK Shlomo

  239. SKA’N’SKA





  244. SUTEKH

  245. Sam & The Womp

  246. Sasha Steppa

  247. Schlachthofbronx

  248. Sea Bass Kid

  249. Selby & the Dharma Blitz

  250. Sheelanagig

  251. Shootin the Crow

  252. Shumba Youth

  253. Shy FX

  254. Sinai Sound

  255. Skata Tones

  256. Skitz

  257. Slightly Stoopid

  258. Smokey Joe & The Kid feat. Mystro

  259. Solid Gone

  260. Solomento

  261. Sons Of Kemet

  262. Soom T

  263. Sounds Of Harlowe

  264. Soweto Kinch

  265. Spectrasoul

  266. Stagga & Magugu

  267. Steamchicken

  268. Stick Figure

  269. Stillhouse

  270. Sugar Hill Gang with Grandmaster Mele Mel and Scorpio's Furious 5

  271. Suns Of Dub

  272. Surfin Birds

  273. Swindle

  274. Swing Ting Label Showcase



  277. TQD

  278. Tapioka

  279. Technimatic

  280. The Boot Hill All Stars

  281. The Breath

  282. The Brewer's Daughter

  283. The C**ty Bumpkins

  284. The Comet Is Coming

  285. The DJ Producer LIVE

  286. The Downsetters

  287. The Dreadnoughts

  288. The Dualers

  289. The Eskies

  290. The Filaments

  291. The Furrow Collective

  292. The Heatwave

  293. The Hempolics (PA Set)

  294. The JB Conspiracy

  295. The Mighty John Street Ska Orchestra

  296. The Nanofish Dippers

  297. The Original Blues Brothers Band

  298. The Prototypes

  299. The Specials

  300. The Speed Freak

  301. The Tribe

  302. The Whiskey Rebellion

  303. The Wooden Men

  304. They Say Jump

  305. Thrasher

  306. Toddla T

  307. Toots & the Maytals

  308. Town Of Cats

  309. Trashtucada

  310. Turner Brothers

  311. UKAUKA

  312. Uncle Dugs

  313. United Vibrations

  314. Unknown Era

  315. Upbeat Sneakers

  316. Utah Saints

  317. VANDAL

  318. Vibe Tribe

  319. WICKI

  320. WOLF TECH

  321. Wax Tailor

  322. Will Wood

  323. YUSUFLA

  324. ZEN DUB

  325. Ziggy Marley