M.I.A. realised she had been unemployed too long when she was on first name terms with the people in the job centre.

Reflecting on the last decade, the 'Paper Planes' singer told how she had a hard start to it, spending three years jobless. 

She said: "I would go in to the unemployment office and make really complicated job titles up that they couldn't find, and I got to know everyone on a first name basis.

"I thought, 'This is not good' but that went on until 2003."

M.I.A., 34, added that when she finally did get a job she was too scared to quit, even after her music career started taking off with her first single 'Galang'.

She continued: "I was still working at a shop when I had 'Galang' out, and it was record of the week at Radio 1. People were in the shop saying, 'What's going on, why are people calling?' I had no idea."

M.I.A. - who originally set out to be a documentary filmmaker - also said that despite being poised to release her third album, she doesn't feel like a musician.

She told Rolling Stone magazine: "Even my next album is not me saying, 'Hi, I'm a musician now' but 'Am I a musician?' If I truly think that I'm a musician, then I should just accept it by this album. I haven't accepted it yet, I'm still in denial."