Firstly Happy Women's Day Ma Faiza. It is a pleasure to host you. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to publish highlights of your career and personal life.
MI: You're often referred to as "Mother of Electronica", but when were you actually drawn to music?
MF: Wow...umm I've been drawn to music all life, I remember asking my dad to come buy me records when I was a kid. I've always been fascinated by music, so I learnt to play different instruments and I studied music at school. Music just felt like it’s in my blood and soul. 1993 was when I started listening to electronic music, at a club called Heaven in the UK, and that is when I was first drawn to this style of music.
MI: You were born in Tanzania and raised in London, and now working in India, was it a plan or destiny?
MF: I went to Tanzania once to DJ, and when I was there it felt an inexplicable connection. It was something in my soul, just by being born there even without speaking the language yet I felt so connected. I came to India on a vacation, as I wanted to explore my Indianness. I wasn't very Indian and I wanted to find out the Indian in me. And I fell in love with India. I was in India for 6 months, and in the UK for 6 months. It was then that I felt I am not connected to the UK anymore and I must return to India where my heart is.
MI: When was it that you played for the first time as a pro?
MF: Well, the first time wasn't as a professional artist. I mean, fake it till you make it ! But it was in an Ashram, around 1996 in Puna, India and I had to play there for a meditative exercise. I played using tapes at that time!
MI: You are an inspiration to many upcoming female artists, what is the one thing they can learn from you?
MF: I think "Just Believe in Yourself", and be who you are. I have been an oddball and I have been able to express that and live it no matter what the challenge was.. No matter who didn't accept me, whether my parents or society. I wasted so much time trying to be someone else, be something else and beat myself up. So my message to everyone is to stay true to yourself. I wish I could have heard this message when i really needed to, rather than wasting years wasting time trying to figure life out!
MI: Talking about inspiration, what inspires you?
MF: I am inspired by love, honesty, kindness, nature, great conversations and so many things. I am inspired by not only music but silence also - it really feeds my soul. When I am connected to the universe and other people it allows me to gain more insights to be more inspired in my life.
MI: You are very attached to your family, how important a role have they played in influencing your choices? Lifestyle? Career?
MF: Oh they hated everything (casually chuckling) about me. Well not hate, they didn't really understand me. I was the black sheep of the family. But in the last 25 years we have come a really long way. There were times when they wouldn't stand next to me or walk with me, they could only judge me. They really didn't understand me and now I see them standing next to me, there is so much pride and understanding. It’s been a process that has evolved through constant dialogue and honestly expressing who you really are. I feel closer to my mum and dad than I ever have been. I sometimes feel guilty about my beautiful life questioning if I really deserve of all of this. My parents often vocalize that they really love me and admire and respect me, and I guess every child needs to hear that.
MI: To someone unaware of your music, how would you describe your genre as?
MF: I just like to play really happy uplifting, emotional and positive styles. I don't like dark music at all. It’s electronic music and I hope I surprise people. As music keeps changing, it’s hard to know at this point what my music genre is, there’s elements of everything and I like people to keep guessing.
MI: When you took up this profession, there were hardly any competition, but how were you accepted in to the male dominated community back in the days
MF: First of all, there wasn't a scene, so we had to create it. Whilst no one ever showed me anything I was really only selling music, I was selling tapes and CDs on the beaches of Goa. My name was there already, I already had my name in the tapes. It wasn’t like I had to say I am Ma Faiza and had to invite anyone to my parties. There was no one like me from my world, there was no one queer, no one from London or who grew up like I did, there was no competition at all. No one wanted to compete with me, I was a tattooed lesbian, where was the competition? I had my unique genderless space and I didn't have to get attention because of who i am. I just was being myself.
MI: Your calendar is busy as a bee, how do you maintain work life balance?
MF: My calendar used to be busy, now I only do 40 gigs a year compared to about a hundred a couple of years ago. I was getting drained physically and emotionally, I had to re-evaluate my priorities, and I made this serious decision to draw a limit to keep my soul.
MI: We understand you are here in Bangalore for a gig at the Courtyard Hotel, but you're here a day early, any reason?
MF: I am here to do a woman’s workshop, specifically for women. I am really excited about it and want to start a dialogue on whatever topics come in from the women attending. So I want to bring everyone together to see if maybe this will help us all, hoping to create a safe space. So this workshop is happening at the TheMusic’sCool. It's always good to support each other.
MI: Talking about industry dynamics, what is the one thing that you strongly believe this industry can get rid of and not look back once?
MF: All this hype about DJ ranking and foreign Djs, the attitude that goes like we want everything from abroad. People really need to open their minds to more different and creative people who necessarily aren't famous, we are so blinded by the hype. Do you know how much talent is here in India, and what are we doing for this talent? But we are still open for DJs from abroad. More opportunities for everybody here, instead of bringing a great ‘C’ rated DJ and hype him up and sell and make one of the Indian artists to open for them who are far better than them. This attitude needs to change. Rather foster the talent here and export Indian artists.
MI: Do you think the industry values something very hysterical and fictional? What is it?
MF: I don't even know if there are any values anymore in this industry. There’s too many cowboys, many promoters who don't know anything about music but throw parties, own clubs and know nothing. Djs too who want to be Djs for many other reasons apart from music.
MI: Also, one thing you admire most about this industry?
MF: Sighs! The power to change people, music can change lives and community. Music connects you, empowers you and frees you.
MI: Words to live by.
MF: Authenticity. Love. Acceptance.
MI: Advice for everyone in the industry.
MF: I honestly don't know if I am in a place to give advice to the industry. I just have to say something more profound, which is “Look past the hype” is what I think I want to say. Accept who you are and not be a carbon copy of someone else.