Shilpa Ray


The first time we came across you (pardon our ignorance) was at a Nick Cave show in London and you released you EP ‘It’s All Self Fellatio’ via his label, how much has Nick Cave been an influence on you?

He’s a huge influence on my work and how I approach songs and has been since I was a teenager. Western music was banned from my household when I was growing up so my sister and I would sneak CD’s from the library into books about Henry Kissinger, Turtles or the Vietnam War. It’s how I discovered The Velvet Underground. On one such occasion I took home a Leonard Cohen Tribute album, I found the whole thing to be dreadfully boring till I got to Tower of Song. It felt so dirty, intense and alive which I believe is the essence of great teenage music, so of course I had to find out who covered that song. It was Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, from then on I felt like I joined a secret cult; man did I piss off a lot of Hardcore/ Pop Punk boys in college, constantly playing his stuff. I remember some dude I dated for about a week, lost his shit on me cause he couldn’t put up with my weirdness and my morbid music.  AH! Freshmen year in the era of Smash Mouth. Weezer, and Third Wave Ska. I’m proud I got out of that with good taste.

I bet! At the Nick Cave show you treated us to one our favourite ever quotes: “Hello everybody, I’m here to massage your pants until you get raped by Nick Cave” – Got any more of these gems before we continue?  

My mother once told me my words could start a massacre, in Bengali of course. It’s a very dramatic language spoken by very dramatic people. Mix that with being born and raised in New Jersey and you get an Indian girl with a foul mouth and a Jersey accent.

What’s the most memorable moment of the tour? I have this romanticized image of you wandering the streets of Amsterdam with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis…

It was all amazing, it was my first time in the UK and Europe.  To have been around such great people, the band, the crew, what a great family! Nick has done so much for me and has had so much faith in me as a musician its pretty unbelievable and kinda scary. They were all incredible teachers.  I will always look back on those times as a turning point for me as an artist.

I like your video for ‘Nocturnal Emissions’ – You used a Kickstarter to fund it, did anybody ever come round for Indian food? 

No. Ha! I am a good cook.

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What three words would you se to describe yourself? 

Whoa, Job interview question. Glad you didn’t ask me what my plan was for the next 5 years. Short tempered, pragmatic, dreamer. Am I hired?

Not quite… What three songs would best portray you?  

Dr. Teeth and Electric Mayhem – Don’t Blame the Dynamite

Velvet Underground – New Age

Television – Carried Away

What runs through your mind when you’ve only got yourself as company? 

I like to hang out by myself a lot, my internal conversations are hilarious but normally I’m just hungry.

Now you’re off the therapist couch… Apart from bands old and new where else do you draw inspiration?

Everything and anything, I can take the most mundane objects and events and create my own fun. Sometimes being an adult can make you loose that, but that’s why we have drugs.

On the subject of new bands, who, if any, are you listening to at the moment? 

Fat White Family. We are playing with them on the 21st of March. I can’t wait. I love unpolished juvenile music with good lyrics.

You’re fairly outspoken regarding current affairs, if you could sit in a room with world leaders what would you have to say?

You’ve gotta try my lamb curry!

What is freedom?

Having choices. Some countries make you buy them then oppress your ability to make the money to do so others flat out deny you the right to choose. Most countries do a little of both.

Cheers, Shilpa!