It's not often that someone sketches out his or her life path as a 13-year-old and sees the results materialize in adulthood, but Shilpa Ray is an exception.
At that age, the New Jersey-bred, Brooklyn-based musician heard The Velvet Underground for the first time, an event that had a massive impact on her.
“I just knew I wasn't going to lead a very conventional lifestyle and eventually do something creative and not just something practical,” the 31-year-old says, calling from outside a noisy club in Houston before she and Her Happy Hookers take the stage. “At that age, I didn't really think I was going to end up playing music this seriously or anything like that. I wanted to do a lot of different things — visual art, be a filmmaker for a little while. I stuck with (this) because I was more comfortable playing music than any other medium of art.”
But giving Lou Reed and company all the credit for sending Ray down the road of loud, impassioned Rock & Roll is a bit deceitful. Ray was originally turned toward music by her parents — Indian immigrants who wanted her to play and sing traditional Indian songs as a way of appreciating her cultural background. At 6, she was given her first harmonium, a keyboard instrument that produces an accordion-like sound and is common in Indian music.
Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers play a free show at MOTR Pub Wednesday. Go here to read Reyan Ali's full interview.