When Shilpa Ray was younger, her Indian family banned Western-themed music. Which is ironic, because Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers is an awesome example of truly American punk rock, just like Ray's early inspiration, The Cramps. Let's just say we're all lucky she branched out from the harmonium and piano, learned at the insistence of her parents.
Shilpa, who could not be lovelier and teensier in person, isn’t afraid to let her dark side out when it comes to her music — her gigantic scream will give you goose bumps. She's also happy spilling her guts in a song, working through her own issues in a way that will make it seem like a piece of cake to deal with yours. And, she’s just as comfortable belting tunes out a capella, even if it makes those around her uncomfortable. She’s unapologetic like that.
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Beauty is...
"A lot of confidence and a big smile. Everyone tells you that, but when you actually get it, it’s a big deal. Those women are secure enough to just do what they want. If you try something bold, you have to actually act comfortable in it. Use what you have instead of trying to be the complete opposite of who you are."
Why I keep doing what I do
"The return isn’t really that great, but I don’t get phased by it because it’s just so fun to do. It’s really interesting how people look at making art, especially in Western culture, where you have to equate it with money in some way. When you stop doing that, you can do whatever you want. You can still be an artist and not have to be everyone’s definition of success."
What I wear to feel sexy onstage
"After working with a lot of guys, I started dressing like a guy. I recently opened for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in Europe and ended up completely dressing like them by the end of the tour. I was like, 'Oh, look at those lapels! I want a suit. I want to look like that!' I like really strong lines. Menswear is something that really gets me. And, I always go for classic reds or blacks. I like color that will just sort of pop, when everything else is kind of simple and that one color is what draws the eye."
Why I take risks in the studio
"What I’m working on right now is pretty much the polar opposite of what else is out there, because it’s so organic. The last record we did, except for the editing, was purely analog and very old school. There’s nothing wrong with recording things to a computer; I just can’t think that way. I like manually creating music. When you create something, everyone has a million opinions just waving back at you. It took me years to figure out that if people do have any kind of opinion, if you made them react in any way, good or bad, that’s a good thing. Otherwise, they'd just ignore you."

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