Flavorwire Premiere: Shilpa Ray Twists Hindu Tradition Into Modern Sex With “Burning Bride”

Shilpa Ray, by Ebru Yildiz
Shilpa Ray, by Ebru Yildiz

The first single off Shilpa Ray‘s new album, Last Year’s Savage, is called “Pop Song for Euthanasia.” This is a very Shilpa Ray thing to do. She named her first solo album sans her Happy Hookers backing band, It’s All Self Fellatiosong titles included “Mother Is a Misanthrope.” Nick Cave, one of her biggest fans, gladly released the record and took her on tour, again.

The point is, Ray’s worldview is akin to a black comedy where death and sex joust for top billing, with a punk-tinged soundtrack composed on a dreamy slide guitar and an Indian harmonium. But her vivid scenes deserve more rave reviews than they draw.

Last Year’s Savage, out May 19 on Northern Spy Records, begins with its most unsettlingly beautiful moment, “Burning Bride.” Atop glittering glockenspiel, psychedelic organ, and the aforementioned dynamite duo at the heart of her music (harmonium and slide guitar), the New York-based Ray uses her rough-edged voice to slowly taunt, “You’ll be lucky when she runs out of desire.” “I wanted something stark and creepy in the front to draw the listener in,” Ray tells Flavorwire.

“Bride-burning is a banned practice in Hindu culture where they burn the wife alive after her husband has died,” she says. “In the olden days, priests set up some rules about a woman’s role and duties to her husband and god as a way to manipulate people into honoring this ritual, however the actual reason the priests did it was to obtain the wealth and property of the deceased. I had to take this story — the image of it — and use it to write about getting fucked in the ass during modern times.”

Flavorwire is pleased to premiere “Burning Bride” below.

Recorded at Brooklyn’s Emandee Recording Studio, Last Year’s Savage finds Ray applying her dark view of the world on herself more than usual. “It took a really long time to make cause I had financed it from my own pocket and steered the ship,” she said. “It’s sad when you’re broke and everyone’s yelling and screaming about how wrong you are about your own music. I’m proud of how twisted this record is. It represents the time and the mental state I was in when I recorded it. It’s the most personal recording I’ve ever made.”