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A Jersey girl through and through, shef’s biggest inspirations include Bruce Springsteen and Lauryn Hill (honorable mention: any good bagel). She grew up listening to Classic Rock and Motown, watching Yankees games and reading copious amounts of science fiction. She draws inspiration from the world around her, writing about her own and others’ experiences and the wider world.

She wrote her recent single, one of those faces, after a strange and eventful bus ride conversation, when she realized she had one of those faces that makes folks (largely strangers) feel comfortable telling her, well, anything! This near hour-long conversation reminded her of the fact that recently, she found herself on the phone with someone she barely knew (and hadn’t spoken to in over six years), discussing a toxic relationship of theirs for nearly ninety minutes. For whatever reason, people feel comfortable telling her things. The verses of this song are inspired by two of such conversations she’s had, and the rest of the song is about how despite this characteristic getting her into countless strange situations, she finds it really special that she gets to occupy this space in peoples’ lives. She’s a keeper of stories, of sorts! It can be really healing to talk – perhaps, especially to a stranger who you’ll likely never see again. She’s honoured to be that stranger (that healer, if she may), if only for the length of a bus ride.

Photographer: Brandon Grant  (@brandon_grant_photos)

Ethnicity: South Indian (Kannada)
Location: New York / New Haven, (NY), USA

Instagram: @shefskissxo

GET TO KNOW - completed May 2024
3 words to describe you:
passionate, nerdy, warm

3 words to describe your music:
energetic, powerful, fun

Describe the moment you knew that you wanted to pursue music:
I don't think there's one singular moment -- for me, it was something that leaked into my consciousness, year after year, until there was no alternative in my mind.

I am who I am because of weekly studio sessions, band rehearsals, frequent concerts, daily writing, and gigs. I am who I am because of my art, and over the years, I suppose it became unquestionable -- if this is who I am, I could not even think of anything else! 

How does your heritage impact your art?
Growing up Desi meant music was ALWAYS on in the house -- and because my parents are immigrants, it was a fascinating combo of classic rock + motown + carnatic + hindi film music. I was always encouraged to listen and to express myself, to create alongside friends! My family who studied carnatic music may have studied something different than I, but we share a language, at the end of the day (music is universal).

What moment are you most proud of in your music journey so far?
I performed with my band at the Sultan Room on 4/13/24, and it was a show I am so proud of :) everything fell into place -- locked in. I'm so proud of the performance that night, and it was so fun! youtube

Your next music/career goal:
I want to release an album!

If you could collaborate with anyone, who and why?
Priya Ragu -- she is authentic, energetic. She is a brilliant lyricist and leaves everything on the stage when she performs. I had the honor of seeing her live in April, and I will never forget that night. 

Top 3 go to songs/artists:
Atlantic City - Bruce Springsteen
Nikamma - Bharg / Moses Koul
Adalam Va! - Priya Ragu 

Words you live by:
It's not about being fearless, it's about being brave. Do it scared. 

Anything else you'd like to share:

Fun facts: also a PhD student (Yale), I have a dog, I watch an insane amount of tv/film (big sci fi fan), I love to bake