M.I.A. Breaks Down Her Favorite Tracks On MAYA

Singer singles out 'Steppin' Up,' 'Teqkilla,' and praises 'experimental' producers Blaqstarr, Rusko.

There’s a whole lot of, well, everything on M.I.A.’s just-released /\/\/\Y/\ album. So you’d think its creator — or co-creator, since the album was created in collaboration with a cadre of producers that included Blaqstarr, Rusko, Diplo and Switch — would have a difficult time picking out just one moment as her favorite. And you’d be correct.

M.I.A. actually has three of them: the discordant drill-pop of “Steppin’ Up,” the stony-drony “Space” and the whacked-out wildness of “Teqkilla.”

“I think ‘Steppin’ Up’ is, to me, like the one,” she told MTV News. “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have even had any extra music on it, I would’ve just had the drills all the way through, but it seemed a bit too experimental at the time. But I’m always pushing [Rusko] to do weird stuff. It’s interesting, I went in to master my record and everyone kept saying, ‘Do you know there’s glitches in this song and that song?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, and I want to leave it there.’

“Like, on ‘Space,’ the bit where it breaks down and stuff, that’s just done on an iPhone app, and we recorded it back into the computer and it’s made up of all the glitches and stuff,” M.I.A. continued. “It’s not controlled, and because we recorded it at the same time as me singing, it just is as it is. [And that's why] ‘Teqkilla’ is the most exciting for me as well.”

And when you’ve got an album as dissonant and disparate as /\/\/\Y/\, there’s bound to be a few lunatics responsible. And sure, M.I.A. is one of them, but she also credits a lot of the new album’s sonics to the up-and-coming team of Blaqstarr and Rusko … whom she said were a nice change of pace from Diplo and Switch, the now-established producers she’s worked with in the past (perhaps that’s why Diplo has been so vocal about his displeasure with the album).

The whole thing was conceived as a rather madcap art project, and luckily, M.I.A. found two of the maddest men to help her make it.

“Blaqstarr sort of helped me kick-start the album. He was living in my house at the time, working on his album [and] it seemed more human, and so I think when I first came down to sketch some ideas down and stuff, he just made me more comfortable singing,” she explained.

“And I think Rusko represents the polar opposite … I just really needed that from my producers, who were just into the music and wanted to experiment and explore new ideas and didn’t come to the table with preconceived ideas. It’s different going in with producers I’ve always worked with — like Switch and Diplo and stuff — because they’ve now become mainstream producers and they’re really opinionated with where they’re at with music, you know? And it was good to have someone … who wasn’t opinionated yet and could appreciate music however it came out.”

What are your favorite tracks from M.I.A.’s new album? Let us know in the comments!