Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers
|Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers|
Shilpa Ray And Her Happy Hookers
|Origin||Brooklyn, NY, USA|
|Labels||Knitting Factory Records|
|Members||Shilpa Ray: songwriter, vocals, harmonium|
Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers is an American rock band from Brooklyn, New York with a blues punk sound led by singer-songwriter Shilpa Ray. Her music has been compared to Blondie and The Cramps flavored with the "Goth burlesque" of the Dresden Dolls, and her singing has been compared to the style of Patti Smith, Nick Cave, and Ella Fitzgerald. Ray is notable for combining an Indian harmonium with a "big-voiced blues-rock howler" vocal approach. The band signed a record contract with Knitting Factory Records and has been touring nationally.
A report in the San Francisco Examiner describes Ray's New Jersey upbringing as an Indian American from an immigrant family as contributing to her having a "scrappy" demeanor. As a youth, she was mistaken for an Iraqi and "pelted with beer cans" by hooligans. She dealt with restrictive parents who banned Western-themed music and learned to play the harmonium and piano beginning at age six. In her high school years, she became a stealth Goth and listened to music by punk rock bands such as The Cramps, Stooges and Joy Division. In her twenties, she moved to New York City and worked as a solo artist, singing a capella at first and later accompanying herself on the harmonium.
Leader of the band
Ray formed another band entitled Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers which Boston Globe critic Jonathan Perry described as the "best-named band" in a lineup of numerous indie bands in July 2010. Band members were "NYC rock luminaries" with experience in bands such as Creaky Boards, Soft Black, Kapow!, and The Negatones. On lead vocals, Ray would sometimes scream and growl during songs. In live shows, the audience members would scream as loud as the band, according to one account.
Ray is the songwriter and band leader, and described her role in her band to being similar to being in a "democracy under a dictatorship". She sings into a beta 57 lavalier wireless microphone through a Galleon Krueger bass amp. Her band has performed in Chicago, Brooklyn, Boston, Pittsburgh, and other cities as a touring band, sometimes opposite a "zombie jazz band". She has performed on the same bill with Patti Smith and guitarist Lenny Kaye. In an interview, she commented about being a female artist:
|“||I think Feminism in America went through a huge backlash during the W. Bush years. We are now going through a cool Renaissance. There are tons of amazing female musicians and artists on the scene with something to contribute and it's not cheesy, kitchy, or female centric. It's universal. -- Shilpa Ray, in an interview in NPR, 2011||”|
|“||The hardship of being an artist in this country is gender neutral. Own yourself, what you do, how you live and don't worry about the end results. -- Shilpa Ray, 2011||”|
- Music critics from the New York Times have focused on Ray's lyrics and voice. Jon Pareles described Ray's act as combining punk rock band shtick with a touch of Goth burlesque but with music which deals with the "contradictory pressures women face" such as being "cosmetically perfect but authentic". Another Times critic, Ben Sisario, summed up Ray's act in four words: "that scream is primal!" Critic Jacob Brown described Ray's voice as a "honey-toned wail" along the lines of Patti Smith merged with Nick Cave.
- Music critic Tris McCall in the Newark Star-Ledger found a feminist message in Ray's lyrics and videos, and described her as "proud to own her discontent."
- Critics in The Guardian described the music as "grinding blues, sleazy jazz, and bracking rock with punk immediacy and pop appeal." Shilpa Ray was "like a vulgar Ella Fitzgerald" singing songs with a "wall of distortion and thunderous, pounding rhythms." Shilpa responded to this within the biography section of the band's official Facebook, "A vulgar Ella Fitzgerald? More like horny Frank Sinatra."
- A Fish Hook An Open Eye, 2009, O-Gun Records
- Teenage and Torture, 2011, Knitting Factory Records
In other media
|Song||Show title||Episode title|
|"Liquidation Sale"||Being Human (US)||All Out of Blood|
- "Happening Wednesday". Los Angeles Times. March 23, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "Blues-punk outfit Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers will open."
- M. Tye Comer (March 19, 2011). "Billboard's Friday SXSW Show Ruled By Indie Rock". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "SXSW 2011 hit ... But if you were a fan of indie rock, there was no better place to be than Billboard's sold-out event at Buffalo Billiards. ... bluesy New Jersey ensemble Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers ..."
- "Shilpa Ray, Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers". NPR. 2011-05-19. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
- Jon Pareles (January 27, 2011). "Falling in Love, Longing and Leering". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "... There’s a lot of shtick in Shilpa Ray’s act, much of it borrowed from a couple of CBGB-era bands, Blondie and the Cramps. ..."
- JACOB BROWN (February 23, 2011). "Shilpa Ray -- Good Time Girl". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "... Since escaping her conservative parents (her father banned Western music in their home) and moving to New York about nine years ago, she has hauled the unusual instrument to gigs to accompany her honey-toned wail of a voice. ..."
- "Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers at SXSW 2011". The Guardian. March 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "Shilpa Ray and her Happy Hookers play grinding blues, sleazy jazz, and bracing rock with punk immediacy and pop appeal. The result? Something like a vulgar Ella Fitzgerald, channeling Nick Cave and PJ Harvey, and singing her songs before a wall of distortion and thunderous, pounding rhythms. The band reads like a who's who of recent NYC rock luminaries including members of Creaky Boards, Soft Black, Kapow!, and cult rock producers The Negatones. Live shows are already a notorious commodity -- and audiences have been screaming as loud as the band does."
- Tris McCall (January 14, 2011). "CD reviews: The Decemberists, Shilpa Ray, The Multi-Purpose Solution, Carl Orff". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "Big-voiced blues-rock howler Shilpa Ray ..."
- Tom Lanham (2011-05-11). "East meets west with harmonium-playing Shilpa Ray". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "... in her New Jersey childhood, when — mistaken as Iraqi — she was regularly pelted with beer cans by white hooligans."
- Jonathan Perry (July 2, 2010). "Indie-pendence day: Fireworks, shmireworks: Head for the clubs to celebrate". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "... arguably the best-named band bill of the weekend: Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers headline a lineup..."
- Ben Sisario (March 19, 2009). "SXSW: More Four-Word Reviews". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "Four-word reviews, Wednesday night. Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers: That scream is primal!"
- Jim DeRogatis (January 6, 2010). "A reason to be cheerful in cold, dark January: Tomorrow Never Knows". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers."
- Nicole Brydson (2010). "Fortnight Journal's New Media Millenials". Brooklyn: The Borough. Retrieved 2011-05-21. "The evening will feature rising Brooklyn stars Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers and Outernational on the same bill with the legendary Ms.Smtih and guitarist Lenny Kaye. ... Buy tickets to see Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye live with Shilpa Ray and Outernational on November 11, 2010."
- "Weekend Guide". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. April 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, 10 p.m."
- Patrick Jarenwattananon (August 13, 2010). "DIY Touring With A 'Zombie Jazz' Band". NPR Music. Retrieved 2011-05-19. "We played at Death By Audio with Shilpa Ray And Her Happy Hookers, an awesome rock group, and that crowd responded supremely to what we were doing."