This is the eleventh post in our “Colourful Woman Wednesday” series, which features stories of colourful women surviving and thriving. If you’d like to share your story, or nominate a colourful woman for this feature, email us or get in touch via Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook.
Masia One is a remarkable performing artist. She’s the first female nominated for a Much Music Video Award (Rap) and winner of the Chinese Canadian National Council Pioneer Award. Her music has edge and passion and her style is undeniable. In an interview with the Coloured Collective’s Lisa Rajkumar-Maharaj, Masia has this to say:
How would you describe your musical style? What are your musical inspirations?My music is based in Hiphop and has dancehall, reggae, and pop influences. It is also very influenced by my nomadic lifestyle. The message is with the intention of making people feel brave and positive to balance out the amount of degradation in mainstream sound today.To say you are multi talented is an understatement. Other than singing, what other types of work do you do?I’m currently the Creative Director of a NYC based high end men’s outerwear line M71 that will be launching at Magic in Las Vegas this Fall. My company The MERDEKA Group is a branding boutique where we take events, artists or products and create the brand identity through graphic design, manufactured merchandise and events. We’ve worked with Redbull, Adidas, Mobile Jam Fest (Youth Creativity Festival) and facilitate opportunities to bring the grass roots community and corporate interests together. Finally, I really like painting and I hope to get a gig one day illustrating a children’s story book.Tell us a bit about your upbringing and how you fit into and perceive the urban music scene.I was born in Singapore and grew up in Vancouver, BC. When I found a bootleg Public Enemy tape in Singapore at the age of 8, I knew I had discovered something unlike anything I had heard before. When I put out my first album Mississauga in 2003, I’m don’t think I fit into the perceived urban music scene at all – because of the way I look I was told to either be a spoken word poet or car model. Today Hiphop & Urban music is undeniably international and I’m hoping to bring my experience in music & culture back to SE Asia, the place of my birth.Any performances, albums or anything you’d like to share with our readers? Where can we buy your album?I have 2 upcoming releases for 2012. The first is BOOTLEG CULTURE, produced by Grammy winning producer Che Vicious (Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 50 Cent, Kanye). Guest appearances include The RZA, Isis of Thunderheist and Talib Kweli. The second is a record done live at Tuff Gong (Bob Marley’s studios) in Kingston Jamaica together with an incredible band Dubtonic Kru. My music can be purchased on iTunes or on my website www.masiaone.com (store opening at the end of the month).Finally, since the theme of our blog is Colourful women, that is, women who create a unique space for themselves in the world – powerful women of varying racial and cultural backgrounds, what would you say makes you a Colourful woman?Every woman is a colourful woman, but what is exposed in the media is an extremely skewed monochrome vision. Only 24% of news subjects are women. In a vast mainstream of Hiphop music, there is a spotlight on only 1 female – who incidentally glamourizes being a Barbie. At the ground level, casting couches are happening every day in order for women to break through in this industry. I guess what makes me able to show that I am a colourful woman is that I have been able to be independent and self sufficient in the business from reading my contracts to booking shows, where there’s usually a male “gatekeeper” for every female act. My business MERDEKA is the Malay word for “independence & freedom” and this is certainly something I champion for all women.