I hate being called lazy, so when everybody gets up at half seven in the morning, I’m up at the same time. Everyone goes to work and I’ll do a few hours of writing, then I’ll mess about for a bit and come back to it. By the time I go home I’m done. I think it’s really good to keep that kind of a routine with writing. I find that when I don’t do that, it’s really hard to get back into that headspace of writing.
“Immigrant” has become a dirty word. It is not a bad word. It’s not a curse or a swear word. It’s not a dirty word and it’s nothing to be ashamed about. I am proud to be a second generation immigrant. I am proud of my heritage. We are all immigrants and we need to start owning the concept.
I would say that I am not that well-versed politically. I am just someone who wants to speak out about anyone who is in a situation where they are suffering. I always want to stick up for the underdog.
We are never going to get anywhere unless we have an open dialogue that allows people to speak. If we just go in with anger towards those who hold a different opinion, we won’t ever get anywhere. Take Brexit – the notion that everyone who voted leave is racist is bullshit and I really hate that. Some of the most vulnerable people in our society have been targeted and they have been brainwashed and lied to. The last thing we should be doing is shouting at them, blaming them and calling them names.
I have received some racist abuse, but you will never see me fighting back or being aggressive on Twitter. When I do reply, I try to be as kind as possible in order to change these people’s opinions. If they look at me as a Muslim voice, and they are being negative and I am being aggressive back, that’s only going to reinforce their opinion. So, there is a quite a weight of responsibility. I am constantly checking what I am saying and reigning in my anger. And, I never go on Twitter when I am drunk.
What happens when I’m making a new album is I try not to listen to music that’s coming out at the time. I turn off the radio and don’t read any music blogs, because I tend to get really distracted by new music. When I hear it, I think, “Should I be doing that?”
We’ve been talking about the Syrian refugee crisis a lot, in the news in the U.K. and possibly the U.S., but it isn’t the only refugee crisis that is happening at this minute. There’s something like 22 million refugees in the world. There are people from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, and so many other places where people are living in complete turmoil.
We played a show the other week at this festival and it was an audience that I’d never normally play in front of. That’s one the greatest things about festivals: you don’t always get your audience, you get people who just pop in out of curiosity. The reaction was amazing; there were people dancing, which we’ve never had, I guess because the message is pretty powerful and the performance is a lot more visceral than it has been previously. The audiences seem to be reacting to that really well and it’s a wonderful thing, because at a performance you really bounce off your audience.
Some of my peers are artists who are at the same level as I am and have been getting paid more than I have, so there’s even a pay gap. It’s disgusting. But as soon as you get one person speaking out about it then you’ll get other people coming out of the cracks saying, “Actually, me too.” I’m starting to see and feel a bit of change in the industry now. It’s long, long overdue, but it’s a beautiful thing to see and it’s just going to get better as the days go by.