In­ter­view Par­vaaz

Ben­galuru band make them­selves at home with month- long Toronto res­i­dency

NOW Magazine - - CONTENTS - By APARITA BHAN­DARI

Par­vaaz at the Hide­out ( 423 College), Septem­ber 7 and 9, 9 pm. $ 10. And at Small World Mu­sic Cen­tre ( 180 Shaw stu­dio 101), Septem­ber 10, 2: 30 and 8 pm. $ 15-$ 20. small­world­mu­sic.thun­der­tix.com.

When a band from the south­ern In­dian city of Ben­galuru comes to play Small World Mu­sic Cen­tre, the show brings cer­tain ex­pec­ta­tions. At­ten­dees might ex­pect sus­tained sitar twangs and in­tri­cate tabla tricks. Maybe some party happy Bol­ly­wood beats.

So those who at­tended a Toronto con­cert by Par­vaaz last week might’ve been left sur­prised. In­stead of “world mu­sic,” they got soar­ing guitar chords and ex­tended drum so­los – in­flu­ences drawn from Led Zep­pelin and Pink Floyd, Nus­rat Fateh Ali Khan and In­dian folk tra­di­tions all mashed up with sub­lime Kash­miri and Urdu po­etry.

“Af­ter the show, two el­derly Cau­casian women came up to us,” says Khalid Ahamed, Par­vaaz’s lead vo­cal­ist at Bom­bay Street Food on Bay. “One of them thought our mu­sic was very vis­ual. She said she had friends in Toronto who are film­mak­ers, and she would bring them to our next show.”

Toronto, in turn, has also sur­prised Par­vaaz.

“At that same show, I saw Haniya,” says Ahamed, re­fer­ring to the Pak­istani mu­si­cian and com­poser Haniya As­lam, who is now based here. “I saw her on [ pop­u­lar Pak­istani mu­sic se­ries] Coke Stu­dio. And here she was in Toronto at our show! That was amaz­ing.”

There’s been plenty of op­por­tu­nity for the city and Par­vaaz to get fa­mil­iar with each other. Cur­rently in the midst of a month- long lo­cal res­i­dency that be­gan Au­gust 18, they’ve been build­ing up to a hec­tic fi­nal week of per­for­mances af­ter play­ing Bramp­ton, In­dia Day at Nathan Phillips Square, Small World, two nights at Po­etry Jazz Cafe in Kens­ing­ton Mar­ket and an acous­tic show at Bom­bay Street Food.

Still to come are two shows at the Hide­out, two in Hamil­ton and two at Small World on Septem­ber 10. ( Their itin­er­ary keeps grow­ing.)

De­pend­ing on the suc­cess of this tour, they hope to re­turn to Canada next year, and maybe ex­tend into Amer­ica’s east coast.

“We’ve been plan­ning this tour since Fe­bru­ary, talk­ing to mu­sic fes­ti­vals, try­ing to de­velop re­la­tion­ships with venues,” says Gokul Chakravarthy, co­founder of Pur­ple Patch, a bou­tique event man­age­ment and me­dia con­sul­tancy com­pany based out of In­dia and Canada. ( Chakravarthy also moon­lights as a film­maker and has been doc­u­ment­ing Par­vaaz’s jour­ney.)

Chakravarthy first dis­cov­ered Par­vaaz in 2014. Af­ter a friend twigged him to the band, he at­tended their al­bum launch in Ben­galuru and was blown away by what he heard. As it turned out, his child­hood friend and co- founder of Pur­ple Patch, Chaithanya Kom­ma­muri, had moved to Toronto in 2003.

Af­ter Kom­ma­muri watched Par­vaaz per­form at a New Year’s gig on a Ker­ala beach, Pur­ple Patch de­cided to put to­gether a Toronto tour for the band.

The ex­tended trip is partly a way to grow their au­di­ence here, and partly a way to sell their uniquely pro­gres­sive in­die rock sound, which was pri­mar­ily de­vel­oped through jam ses­sions.

Take, for in­stance, their song Gul Gul­shan. It started with lead gui­tarist Kashif Iqbal play­ing a riff that sounded a lot like rabab ( a lute- like in­stru­ment from Afghanistan), says Ahamed. It re­minded him of a poem by Kash­mir poet Mahjoor.

“That poem had been in my head. I heard it ev­ery­where at home [ in Srinagar]. On ra­dio chan­nels. At so­cial func­tions,” says Ahamed. “That poem was meant for that riff.”

The band was formed af­ter Ahamed and Iqbal, child­hood friends in Kash­mir, re­con­nected as stu­dents at an en­gi­neer­ing univer­sity in Ben­galuru. Ini­tially play­ing college com­pe­ti­tions, the band co­a­lesced around 2010 af­ter Sachin Banan­dur ( drums) and Fidel D’souza ( bass) joined. They re­leased an EP, Be­hosh, in 2012, and – af­ter a suc­cess­ful crowd­fund­ing cam­paign – their first al­bum, Baran, in 2014.

Af­ter their month here, you might find some Toronto in­flu­ences in the band’s fu­ture songs. Like the in­spi­ra­tion Ahamed took from his cus­tom­ary tourist trip to Ni­a­gara Falls.

“He wanted to shoot an hour- long video of the light show to make it into their next mu­sic video,” says Chakravarthy.

“Those lights, they looked psy­che­delic,” says Ahamed. “Kind of like how we make mu­sic.” mu­sic@ now­toronto. com | @ aparita

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