Sarina Rai - Rai Ko Ris
An interview by Sushma Joshi
Why Rai Ko Ris?
The band you mean? Because it's a typical thing we say out here and I am a Rai-nee so it was partly a good Nepali name and partly a good joke. Nothing to do with how great Rais are or anything. All people will behave the same...i.e. what benefits them. You can't say you're different coz you're this or that ethnicity in the end.
What were the three things that turned you into this punk-rocking guerilla artist?
I don't know about artist...I’d say more music-person. I think guerilla is spelt “guerrilla”. I was always surrounded by cousin brothers who played geeetar and I was not satisfied just being an on-looker. I wanted to rock out too. And I was always screaming and shouting my own songs since I was tiny- the squash racquet (guitar) and hairbrush (microphone) act. I loved loud, fast, rock music.
At 17 I had a band in high school called Skinhead Barbie. At 20 I formed a duo band, Bruce Lee. Just me on guitar shouting and a girl, a really good friend Neng Mohammed (Malay) on drums. Our friends called our sound "canto-punk". It was just a natural punk sound. Our lyrics were very socio-politico... a lot about being "asian" in a western dominated media culture.
And then later Rai ko Ris. I was inspired by people like my 'tikka' brother Milan Rai (War Plan Iraq, Chomsky's Politics) who I used to stay with a lot in UK when I was a conflicted teenager..ha ha. He listened to anarcho-punk and was the first to introduce me to the band Crass. Today, Rai ko Ris' lyrics are very socio-political, very 'socialist' in what we talk about, and down right anti-capitalist.
A childhood memory about "home" - where's that, and why? Were you ever homesick - for what?
Boeing 747 was home. My big sister throwing up on the plane and me disposing the air sick bags to a tarted-up stewardess. (They get all dressed up to dispose throw up bags.) I was homesick homesick homesick because in this situation you are a small child, without your parents and a home where you can be you and where people genuinely love you.
Have you ever wanted to beat somebody up? Details, please.
Yeah, I wanted to so I did. They were bullying me and wanting to fight me so I had to fight back. That's why there's something a bit suspiciously intellectual about "peace" sometimes. Like the situation here in Nepal. Everyone, especially the educated elite and foreign NGOs saying peace no violence. But if you saw your sister or mother raped and tortured and then shot in the head, it's hard to talk about peace (man).
Did people ever tell you you couldn't become a musician because you were a woman? Or they always encouraged it?
They just said I SHOULDN'T do it coz I wouldn't be rich. I don't want to be rich so f$%^ off. I got encouraged a lot by all them cousin brothers I mentioned before. Women can take great examples from men more than women sometimes.
What's been your best moment so far as an independent, motorbiking, free-thinking chick?
I don't have a motorbike (I used to borrow one from a friend), I use safa-tempo. It's cheaper and it's convenient. I don't know what free-thinking is. It must mean that you do what you think is right for yourself instead of letting others decide, which is the same as independent I suppose. I don't think I’m very "chick" ish. I never wore make up (that's one of the immediate thoughts that came up when I saw "chick", sorry)...and I’m really not good at fashion. My best moments are when we're playing with the band, rocking out and hopefully introducing another viewpoint of the world through our lyrics that move people to get off their arses and participate/be active to not let bullies run our lives for a massive profit. I think I’m more of a guitar/bass wielding, scruffy-looking, step-mother of two little French girls. Sorry to destroy the image.
If people were to ask you what you live for, what would you answer?
Same as above. Which for me I think means, live for today i.e. apply all the above everyday, not just part-time, half-assed. Action means now. Can I just add, support your local farmers becoz they feed you, not God.