A memory that left an indelible imprint?
I was five years old when my father was killed in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. There was fire everywhere – my mother and I hid ourselves in a cupboard. My brother was hidden in the fridge. The house was burnt down; a Bengali family next door saved the rest of us. I was too young to understand what was happening. But when you grow up, those visions come back.
How do you deal with loss?
What keeps me going is my mother’s courage. She landed in England with 100
‘ I wanted to do something that would shut everyone’s mouth up.’
What inspired you to take up music?
The Indian girls in England wouldn’t talk to me, so I hung out and became friends with the black girls. Hip-hop was seen as a man’s territory – I wanted to do something that would shut everyone’s mouth up. Music made me realise that I could stand on my own two feet and didn’t have to take anyone’s crap.
What does family mean to you?
My mother and brother are my family. When my mother was widowed, nobody came up to her with help. Today, I would say my family consists of five people. The rest of the people I care about are all friends.
Do you think it is possible to forgive?
I can’t be bitter. I can’t blame everyone for what happened to me as a child. I can’t blame the whole world – it was just a few stupid people. I think laughter is the best way to deal with this.
What do relationships mean to you?
They are important, but so is my work. Partners may come and go, but what will remain is what I’ve done and achieved. I am deeply attached to my boyfriend, but you can’t just depend on that.