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MIA in Athens

"Wha's yer name?" she asked."Uhh.I love you." I coughed out.

"What was that?" she asked, looking a bit startled.My mind went blank. "Oh crap. What's my name? I know it's S something." I thought to myself. I took a stab at it and managed to mumble "Sughsngas".

"Huh?" she asked.I couldn't believe this was happening. I thought I'd be calm and cool when I met M.I.

A, maybe stumbling over a question or two at worst. This was far worse than my "nightmare scenerio". I couldn't even get figure out my name. The day started with such promise too. The weather was great.

It was nice and sunny - wait. That's it!."My name is Sunny!" I said as if I solved the mystery of life. She must have thought I was mildly retarded, but was a sweetheart and managed to sign the poster and take a few pictures with yours truly.

It was around 6:30 p.m. and soundcheck had just finished at the 40 Watt Club in downtown Athens, Georgia. I had been looking forward to this show for nearly a month now, and when I heard about Farzad and Shyam getting the oppurtunity to interview M.

I.A, I jumped on the buddy-bandwagon and convinced them to let me tag along.We all knew I'd never get past the bouncers if my story didn't check out, so I grabbed my digital camera and posed as the "website photographer". I already planned on taking pictures for my site, so it didn't really feel like "lying" when we told her tour guide.

He had no problem with it.The soundcheck was like a private concert. She got on stage and quickly went through her entire set, only stopping to adjust the volume, tempo and pitch of each song. I was treated to both old classics (if I can call them that) off of Arular, her debut album as well as some new stuff. All of it sounded great. She sounded great.

I've been to many concerts and it's rare when the artist sounds as good live as they do on record. She sounds better live. I would never have guessed that this mild mannered 5'2" Sri Lankan girl would have so much energy, but she's a Tigress, both onstage and off.Her presence onstage is remarkable.

By the time she went on, the tamil girl from London managed to get a bunch of frat boys and sorority girls singing the lyrics to her songs when they knew them, and making them up when they didnt. It was hilarious watching a bunch of the frat boys singing about a Hindu revolution in Sri Lanka. As great as she is onstage, she is a totally different person offstage. Offstage she's a sweetheart.I got to hang out with her for about 40 min after the sound-check, talking about everything from her role as a Sri Lankan artist, the pressure she felt growing up to how much she missed good old south Indian food.

"The next time I com' I 'spect ya to bring me some dem dhosa's, k?" she said.I've never met anyone quite as humble or as warm. When it came time for the interview she was open with her answers and had no problem getting her picture taken for a small college radio station out of Atlanta.Though I fumbled at the begining, I managed to find my dignity and make it through the evening. She is nothing less than the nicest musician I have ever met.P.

S.I am working on digitizing the interview we did in its entirety and will have it posted as a podcast in the next few days. It is definitley worth the listen.To take a look at all the pictures taken at the concert, check out my site.


By: Sunny Sambhara

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