Shilpa Ray’s Heteronormative Horseshit Blues

By Amarantha da Cruz

Musician and rebel Shilpa Ray released her hauntingly beautiful Dream Pop ballad single, “Heteronormative Horseshit Blues”, back in October, accompanied by an equally pleasurably dark music video where Shilpa plays two roles: the submissive love-stricken girl, as well as the object of her affection, a 1950s-type bad boy. The video was directed by OG and legendary New York punk filmmaker Amos Poe, who also directed the video for Ray’s track “Manic Pixie Dream Cunt”. “Heteronormative Horseshit Blues” was inspired by an abusive relationship the musician experienced in her 20s. Her distant, dreamy voice and song arrangement evokes a nostalgic feel, reminiscent of Mazzy Star’s beloved “Fade Into You”, but the the comparison ends there, with Ray’s politically-charged feminist message, a sharp contrast to Mazzy’s atypical love song. Ray’s spirit is also more aggressive, even when playing the role of damsel in distress.


In celebration of our Volume 3 sex issue, Shilpa discussed what sex means to her, the bullshit that still goes on in the music industry, what she’s listening to during this Covid business, and more.

Our 3rd volume is about how women individually define and interpret the subject of sex, and how that differs from the standard patricarchal lense.  We received a wide range of answers from women of all ages and backgrounds. What is your definition of sex?

I think sex and sexuality is something that humans don’t know jack shit about. That’s why we’re still in this mess. I remember watching an interview with Jane Wayne County where she explained why the glam rock movement didn’t survive the early 70s, and that we are more comfortable consuming horror and death then we are with understanding human sexuality. She was right about this and her words stuck with me. We haven’t come that far in understanding sex beyond procreation or sin and the 70’s happened 50yrs ago.

Since the October release of your new single, you’ve said in a few interviews, “I wrote this song from my experiences of being stuck in an abusive relationship during my mid to late 20s, only to come to the realization that the non abusive ones weren’t that much better in terms of power dynamics and conforming gender roles.” What is your approach these days in relationships, when you are confronted with gender related power struggles. Has anything changed?

I’m going through a time in my life where I’m completely disengaged and it’s been great! I can’t predict the future, but I’m really enjoying being alone, working on stuff, going about my day and being in my own world. In a way I’ve always been like that. Sometimes I’ll give in, be an upstanding hetero or whatever but it’s never been fun. It’s a societal pressure, something for friends to gab about, like I accomplished a major feat. How to bag a man and keep him too! Top 10 Tips. No Thanks. Not for me.

Do you think the new non-binary movement is something that’s here to stay and help society evolve – moving away from our mostly heteronormative and gender stereotype world view?

Absolutely! It’s proof that we run in a spectrum, perhaps something even more abstract than a spectrum. Everyone has different desires and needs. Everyone has the right to have their own relationship and ideas about their bodies, and gender identities. Although, I’m cis gender and biologically straight, I’ve been waiting for this movement since I was kicking and screaming at a K-mart the day my mom felt I needed a training bra.


I read that you began releasing music in 2006. In your opinion, how has the musical landscape changed since then?

It’s changed a lot. It’s becoming more diverse now and I’m happy about it. If only the industry can catch up to that. Unfortunately the ones who hold the money and authority that goes with it are still white men.

Have you come across any bullshit as a woman in the well-known male dominated music industry?

Too much bullshit! I’d like less bullshit please.

What is your advice to young female artists who have to navigate the music industry and the sexism they might face within it?

I love how vocal young women are about calling this out! They don’t need advice from me. I need advice from them.

What were some of your biggest music influences growing up, and are there any current artists right now that you’re listening to?

VU was a big one for me growing up. A band that made their listeners want to make their own music is a really powerful thing. Listening to music during Covid has been fun cause it’s all about having a safety blanket and feeling good. So I’ve been listening to everything from Bollywood to Black Sabbath.

Your music video has a major David Lynch vibe. Do you have any favorite directors, or directors you’d like to work with in the future?

Well the fact that I got to work with Amos Poe on the Manic Pixie Dream Cunt and Heternormative Horseshit Blues videos was a dream come true! As far as the future goes, like I said before, I can’t predict the future.

Amarantha da Cruz is a writer, editor, witch, and the founder/publisher of OyeDrum.

Photo credit: Ebru Yildiz