M.I.A. (born Mathangi 'Maya' Arulpragasam, 17.7.1977) M.I.A. is a British-born singer, songwriter and producer, of Sri Lankan heritage.
Childhood: M.I.A. was born in Hounslow, London. Her father and mother are Tamilian and when she was six months old, the family moved back to Sri Lanka, where her father formed The Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Student, a militant Tamil group.
When the civil war broke out in Sri Lanka, M.I.A. moved to Tamil Nadu in India, with her mother and siblings. Her father would occasionally visit the family. The family eventually moved back to London, where they were treated as refugees and re-housed.
M.I.A. later attended and graduated from Central Saint Martin's College of Art and Design. She obtained a degree in fine art, film and video.
Art and Film Work: In 2001, M.I.A. held her first public exhibition at the Euphoria shop in Portobello. The pieces on display featured pictures depicting the Tamil Tiger rebellion. Her work was nominated for the Alternative Turner Prize and Jude Law has been known to purchase some of her early work.
M.I.A.'s main cinematic influences are Harmony Korine and Dogme '95. She was approached by John Singleton to work on a film in Los Angeles. Her song 'Paper Planes' was featured in the trailer for Pineapple Express.
M.I.A. has also been involved in fashion design, with her t-shirt designs being featured in Fashion Week shows in LA and New York. M.I.A. has previously been flat-mates with the designer Luella Bartley.
Music Career: M.I.A. designed the cover for Elastica's second album. She also followed the band around America and documented the tour, as well as directing the video for their single 'Mad Dog God Dam.' Peaches was the tour support and it was she who introduced M.I.A. to the Roland MC-505 drum machine.
M.I.A. began to experiment with a simple home recording set-up and created a six-track demo tape. She went on to create music that drew on a wide range of influences, from electro, dancehall and jungle. The single 'Galang' was released on Showbiz Records, with 500 copies being pressed. The track was instantly popular and eventually, M.I.A. signed to XL Recordings, home to bands such as The Prodigy and The White Stripes.
XL re-released 'Galang' and followed it up by releasing 'Sunshowers.' For the album, M.I.A. worked with producers such as Diplo and Richard X. Her debut album, Arular, was released in March 2005 to critical acclaim. She promoted the album with festival appearances at South by Southwest in Texas, Glastonbury Festival, Coachella and the Reading and Leeds festivals. M.I.A. was also featured on Missy Elliott's track 'Bad Man', from her album The Cookbook. Arular was nominated and short listed for the Mercury Music Prize.
In 2007, M.I.A. released Kala, her second studio album. The album was written on her travels through Japan, Australia, India, Trinidad and Jamaica, amongst other places. Kala was generally considered to be more raw and unconventional than her debut. This time, M.I.A. used the producer known as Switch to work on the songs with her. M.I.A. took acts such as Buraka Son Sistema, The Cool Kids and Santogold on tour with her to promote the album.
In the 2007 film Spike Jonze Spends Saturday With M.I.A., the pair visit Jonze's former immigrant home in Woolwich, West London.
The following year, M.I.A. formed her own record label, N.E.E.T. She has signed the band Rye Rye and worked on their debut album with them.
Personal Life: M.I.A. is engaged to Benjamin Brewer. Brewer sings and plays guitar for The Exit. They are expecting a child together.
Biography by Contactmusic.com