From music to modeling to designing artifacts, the multi-talented Augustine Shimray is one creative talent you’ve got to know! Brought up in Dimapur, Nagaland, Augustine is very proud of his North-Eastern roots and incorporates his culture into everything he does. For the moment, he is excited to perform at this year’s edition of Ziro Festival of Music with his band, Featherheads.
“Today everything that I do, the way I look, whatever I represent… like my tattoos incorporate modern designs with my ancestors’ headhunter tattoos, the earlobe piercings, the costumes that I wear, the songs that I sing… I walk my roots everywhere I go.”
We are happy to feature the multi-talented Augustine Shimray from North East India, as he lets us into his creative mind space and tells us about his inspirations and how his curiosity to learn about his roots has helped shape his life and work.
Hello Augustine! How are you? Tell us a bit about yourself and what you’ve been up to.
I am Augustine Shimray, a free spirit born in the 80’s in Ukhrul, Manipur and brought up in Dimapur, Nagaland. I’m a versatile re-evolving artist. I circle within and bounce between different art forms as a musician, model, actor, artefacts designer, tattoo artist and more.
“At the moment I’m excited about jamming with my band – Featherheads, a folk-rock band at the Ziro Festival of Music in Arunachal Pradesh this year!”
Augustine Shimray’s folk-rock band, Featherheads.
- What initially sparked your interest in all these creative fields?
It all started when I set off to Pune, Maharashtra in 2003 with my younger brother Alex Shimray and learned to DJ. Alex and I also started tattooing on the side to earn some extra money. There were not many tattoo studios around the city in those days and there was quite a demand.
“We’ve been practicing this (tattoo) art since our teenage years in Nagaland in the 90’s. It’s part of our Naga culture and so we’ve grown up doing hand-poke tattoos with a thorn or syringe needle and fabric colours or powdered battery leads.”
The journey as a freelance DJ and tattoo artist went on for a while after that. I was shuttling between the major cities like Mumbai, Goa, Kolkatta, Banglore, Udaipur and Delhi, while Alex shifted to Delhi to become a professional tattoo artist. He is now working at Devilz Tattooz and he is known as the best colour tattooist in India. I too landed up in Delhi in 2009 and was the resident DJ at Hard Rock Cafe New Delhi for 2 years.
Augustine and his brother, Alex Shimray (Left)
I got to interact with different professionals like designers and bands and it also led me to do some modeling assignments from time to time. I was asked to walk the ramps, appear in music videos, and so on.
Augustine Shimray (left, sitting) for a Vogue Photoshoot with Ranbir Kapoor and Leno Kense from Nagaland (extreme right)
Augustine Shimray photographed by Vikram Bawa.
- How have your roots influenced your work or working style?
During my journey, because of the diverse and visibly different ethnicity of our North Eastern features, our friendly attitudes, and the way we’ve been brought up, I’ve always been curious about our people and our roots.
“My curiosity about my own roots made me dig through my own backyard. I fell more and more into it and it also became my biggest asset and my pride. I realized the power of the spirit of our ancestors which I am very proud of today and of being born as nature’s own son.”
“The Watch” featuring Augustine Shimray.
Augustine Shimray is constantly inspired by his Naga roots and traditions.
What have you been working on off-late?
My band Featherheads (Hao-Kui) released our debut music video for a song called ‘Ihao Thot‘ which means ‘Our Ancestors Period’ (video link below). The song talks about how we should be one with nature and stay close to our roots and to know the importance of nature before it is too late.
We have also released a short silent movie called Kazeiram which was a collaboration with my very good friend Kathryn Deyell and Cameron Deyell from Australia. The short movie is about reminding the old culture and folklore of us Nagas. According to my Ancestors, Kazeiram is the name of a place we go to after life on Earth.
“A book called ‘Nagaland’ bywritten by a friend from Australia has released as well. It’s a fiction romance based on my life story and the scenario of our people and movement. You could purchase the book online (link at the bottom)”
“Nagaland” by Ben Doherty inspired by Augustine Shimray’s story
Augustine Shimray and his band, Featherheads.
Augustine Shimray and Featherheads.
Augustine Shimray photographed by Wren Raleng.
Augustine jamming on his acoustic guitar.
Watch Augustine and his band, Featherheads in their debut music video – “Ihao Thot” [link below] Watch Augustine in the short film “Kazeiram” on YouTube and get your copy of “Nagaland” by Ben Doherty here. To know more about Augustine and his experience at Ziro Valley, be sure to follow him on Instagram.
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