MIA says the West is more interested in ‘selling Taylor Swift records’ than helping migrants

Singer's recent single 'Borders' tackles the topic of Europe's refugee crisis

MIA has addressed the refugee crisis in a new interview following her politically-charged new single ‘Borders’.

The Anglo/Sri Lankan star recently unveiled a video for ‘Borders’ in which she joins a group of refugees as they travel across the sea in boats and climb fences. The song includes lines like: “Politics / What’s up with that? / Police shots / What’s up with that? / Identities / What’s up with that? / Your privilege / What’s up with that? / Broke people / What’s up with that? / Boat people / What’s up with that?”

Now, speaking to NPR, MIA questioned how the West can promote its consumerism to the rest of the world and then “turn people away” when they need them most.

She says: “As a musician, I feel like we are part of promoting ideas to people. You know, ultimately we fight to get what we do in the West into the homes and the screens of every single person on the planet. We want to make money off it, and you want to sell 50 million Taylor Swift records to people in Africa. Obviously, some of the kids are gonna say, ‘Okay, yeah, I want the dream,’ and you’ve got migrants who believe in the aggressiveness of our sale of democracy. We can’t really blame people when they are ready to embrace it.”


The singer also highlighted the tension between an increasingly globalised world and traditional border systems: “You don’t put the borders on Apple, you don’t put borders on YouTube, and you don’t put borders on MTV. So to make the borders even taller when actually what the creative world is doing, or the business world is doing, is actually the opposite, then you’re always going to have this problem.”

Of her family’s life in Sri Lanka, she said: “My uncles grew up watching James Bond movies or movies in the ’50s that were being churned out by Hollywood. They were like, ‘Oh, I want to do that’ — wear shades and drive a sports car and, you know, be James Bond.”

Listen to MIA’s interview in full beneath.

Watch the ‘Borders’ video: