How Parvaaz is (literally) defining their name
While many bands have an interesting origin story for their name, the independent Indian band, Parvaaz, is truly living out their title. Parvaaz, which means “flight” in the Hindustani language of Urdu, are currently on their first international tour, exclusively in Canada. While their name was established on a whim, it seems the band has grown into it since their initial inception back in 2010. Having toured extensively in India since then, the band is eager to “start from scratch” here in North America when it comes to showcasing their music and, hopefully, gaining a few fans before they return back home.
Those of us listening to Parvaaz here in Canada are likely hearing them for the very first time; a “haunting soundscape” of psychedelia and rock blended with intimate lyrics inspired from Kashmiri and Urdu poetry. However, the band, while still growing, is far from new. With critical acclaim and a large following attached to their reputation in India, they’ve already earned a spot of their own back home.
Although currently based in the metropolitan city of Bangalore, a two-hour flight south of New Delhi, the band’s beginnings derive from more than just one place. Khalid Ahamed and Kashif Iqbal, supplying the band’s guitar and vocals, were childhood friends both born in Kashmir, located in northern India. Over the years the two had lost touch but unexpectedly reunited when they both moved to Bangalore to pursue post-secondary education.
Once the two discovered they shared similar musical passions and were interested in pursuing it further, they began playing acoustic shows at intimate venues as well as competing in college competitions. Doing so led them to finding their drummer, Sachin Banandur, and bassist, Fidel D’Souza.
Although the four of them have found major success back in India, they’ve always had the desire to travel outside the country to make a name for themselves globally.
“We feel more than privileged to be out here and have the opportunity to play at local pubs and venues,” says D’Souza.
Their current tour’s title, A Rooted Departure, is something the band thought through carefully, as this tour is an especially meaningful one for them.
“We’re still being ourselves, but we’re really trying to stress on having a new audience in front of us. We’ve really been looking forward to this,” says Banandur.
“(It’s about) departing from our comfort zones, playing to a new audience, but still do what we do,” adds Ahamed.
With the tour having a focus on “taking off” but sticking to their roots, the band feels they’ve received a warm welcome here in Canada so far.
“I think it's been a positive response,” says Banandur. We spoke to some people after (one of our gigs), and they were quite surprised to see an independent band (from India) touring here. Somebody from India who's coming here is mostly going to be a classical player or a Bollywood artist. So it was quite refreshing for them to see an independent artist coming down and playing their own music.”
While they say the reaction to their music here has been favorable, the band wasn’t exactly sure how it would all play out.
“Back home, we kind of have an idea of what the audience will be like, how they're going to react to our music. But coming to a different country, it's a whole different thing,” says Ahamed. “We had no idea what people were going to think. It's not the language they speak. But so far, it's been good.”
As a band from India, and, in particular, Kashmir, where Ahamed and Iqbal grew up and a place where territorial conflict is ongoing, they find it hard to avoid being linked to the politics of their home in some way, whether they like it or not.
“We are completely a-political,” says Iqbal. “None of us are really into that. But because we come from that place, you’re automatically associated with (the politics surrounding) Kashmir. It's been so amazing, the past two weeks I haven't switched on the news because we’ve been so busy. There's piece of mind here, in Toronto. In India, every day, there’s a lot of things to take in at once.”
The band also feels that, because of the politically-charged news that often comes from their area of the world, they have the obligation to show people that their home is not solely defined by what they may see in the media.
“Lyrically, there's so much more to speak about (besides the politics). The culture, the poetry, the natural beauty, the good things. We've got to speak about that. I think it's our responsibility to speak about that,” says Iqbal.
While just having started their tour in mid-August, with more shows in and around Toronto yet to come, the band has already thought about returning to Canada, as their time here has been something they’ve cherished.
“When we walked into Kensington Market (for one of our gigs), it felt like home. The response has been much better than we expected. It's beyond our wildest dreams, really. We're in a very lucky place right now.”
To learn more about Parvaaz, their music, and their upcoming Canadian tour dates, check out their website: http://www.parvaazmusic.com/