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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Desi DJ Ma Faiza on identifying as lesbian woman and how it impacted her career

In a candid chat Faiza talks about music, her journey and more

pune Updated: Mar 31, 2019 15:22 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
DJ Ma Faiza

For DJ Ma Faiza, music has always been a very big part of her life. It wasn’t just about listening, but also included playing different instruments. She believes that music chose her. Faiza says, “I just fell into it and ran with it. It’s not that I consciously tried to be a DJ. I was selling music in India and people really liked it. DJing was the natural progression from selling music.”

In a candid chat Faiza talks about music, her journey and more.


In terms of being receptive of your music, how has India responded in comparison to other countries?

I feel India is warm and receptive to artists. Initially it was a learning curve. It has now been 25 years since I have been DJing. In the past years, I have found the Indian crowd to have grown in terms of sophistication and understanding electronic music. In terms of energy, Indians love to scream and want to be provoked. In comparison to other countries, India has a very young and excited crowd.

How has technology evolved in electronic music in the past 25 years?

You have to remember that 25 years ago we did not even have Internet in this country. Accessibility to music was limited and on a completely different medium. In comparison to the rest of the world, India’s accessibility to technology came much later. Neither did India had accessibility in terms of music. Right now, we live in a much more global world. I can say that India is now at par with the rest of the world in terms of equipment that we use and access to music from any genre in the world. That has been the real game changer in the past 25 years. It has opened up the possibility for musicians and audience to understand and experience so many different types of music.

Did coming out to the world about your orientation affect your career as a DJ in anyway?

I was 17 years old when I openly identified as a lesbian, and this was back when I was in England. Today, I am 49 years old. I have been out for the past 32 years. Honestly, I never openly or outwardly faced discrimination from the industry. I have also felt that people have been accepting. I have always accepted myself and who I am and therefore I feel people have also accepted me. A lot of people constantly keep coming up to me saying that they’re inspired by who I’m and what I represent, by my honesty and the truth. I find India to be a very tolerant country. One one-on-one level, in India, if you resonate with the person, they become accepting of who you are. Maybe I’ve been very blessed and fortunate.

Does you sexuality define you?

No, my sexuality has nothing to do with my work. However, it is a part of who I am. Although I was the only queer DJ in India, once upon a time that fact was never highlighted even though everyone knew about it. So I feel like I represent the community merely by the way I look. I do not feel my orientation defines me or puts me into a box. I’m not binary or average and I am very aware of that. When I came out to my parents, they were very shocked and not accepting. Years later, they are my strongest supporters. They defend, love me and accept me and are very proud of the person I am. It takes time. No matter what difficulties you face in accepting yourself, never give up.

How did the fund raiser gig for Out and Loud Queer Film Festival come about?

I have attended the film festival earlier, but most of the interesting things take place on the weekends and I am usually travelling that time. The organising committee approached me for the fund raiser a couple of years back, sadly my dates were booked back then. Although I was unavailable, we stayed in touch. The stories and narratives that are showcased in the festival are very inspiring. I believe you can expand your consciousness by reading and watching good films. I am very happy to finally be a part of the festival.

First Published: Mar 31, 2019 15:05 IST