Bengaluru-based band Parvaaz on putting together their new album Kun, and evolving as musicians
Their lyrics on Kun explore questions of being, life, and its meaning. And while Parvaaz doesn’t explicitly talk about the political unrest in Kashmir, everything affecting them is subconsciously reflected in their music.
Parvaaz has released their second full-length album Kun on 18 October.
Parvaaz is especially lauded for their stirring lyrics, written in Hindi, Urdu, and Kashmiri.
For Kun, Parvaaz is planning an audio-visual, concept launch tour later in the year.
Soulful, melodic, poetic, textured, are all adjectives that work wonderfully to define the sound of the Bengaluru-based band Parvaaz — an Urdu word which means flight. Comprising vocalists and guitarists Khalid Ahamed and Mir Kashif Iqbal, bassist Fidel D’Souza, and drummer Sachin Banandur, Parvaaz was founded in 2010. Ahamed and Iqbal, both from Kashmir, were joined by D’Souza and Banandur in Bengaluru. Having released an EP (Behosh) in 2012 and their debut full-length album Baran in 2014, the band recently released their second album, Kun, on 18 October.
They started work on Kun in mid-2016, while still touring for Baran, with the idea that they want to do a themed album, one which cohesively ties in lyrically and musically. “Kun is an Arabic word which basically means being or coming into existence. We decided the name after all the songs were done... because lyrically they fell into the same theme, which is mostly about existential questions, and that work kind of bound it together,” says Iqbal. While the name came last, their process of putting together Kun started with the sound. “That’s the first thing we go to as a band, the sound of the music,” says Iqbal. “We also search for new sounds that we can put and that’s the first guiding light,” he adds.
They start with this initial music idea, after which the band jams together, with each member making their individual contribution. These sessions are recorded and played back, of which the best parts are taken and put together, which finally results in a Parvaaz melody. This composition process hasn’t changed much in the nine years they’ve been together. However, “everybody has tried to better themselves as musicians, tried to learn more on their instrument, and then bring that idea into the larger context,” explains Iqbal. Once the music is down, they “go to the studio [and give] it a proper structure. And the lyrics come much later,” says D’Souza.
Parvaaz is especially lauded for their stirring lyrics, written in Hindi, Urdu, and Kashmiri. Their inspiration “could be a word, it could be a phrase, it could be a line,” and they take off from there, says Iqbal. Lyrics on Kun are by Ahamed, Iqbal, and long-time collaborator Umar Ahmed Allaie. “So you sit and you figure out what you would want to write about or [ask yourself] ‘what is this song evoking, what kind of feeling is it evoking?’ It mostly comes from that,” explains Iqbal. “The lyrics should not feel like they’re out of place.”
Their lyrics on Kun explore questions of being, life, and its meaning. And while Parvaaz doesn’t explicitly talk about the political unrest in Kashmir, everything affecting them is subconsciously reflected in their music. “Of course, it does affect [the music]. What’s been happening at home, it does affect [our music]. But it’s not happening only in Kashmir. If you see all around the world what’s been happening, yeah it does remain in your head,” says Ahamed. “It’s a feeling that can bring one down,” adds Iqbal. However, for Parvaaz, music is primarily a positive, encouraging entity. “Music is the only place where all four of us try to find peace and hope,” says Iqbal. “If music gives us that feeling, to make more music, then it’s the only safe place to go,” he adds. The music they make drives the group’s life in a larger sense. “And yeah, your subconscious could be clouded with a lot of things, but we try to kind of make a separate compartment,” says Iqbal.
Given the organic nature of their process, it follows that the band constantly skips between genres, creating music that is notoriously hard to categorise. “The genre we’ve left up to people to decide,” says Iqbal. “As far as they [listeners] are loving our music, they like our music, it gives them some relief, that’s all we want,” adds Ahamed. They don’t consciously plan a genre or try to make the music a certain way. “Things just happen, ideas come and we take them wherever they go,” says Iqbal. And whenever they do try to consciously define their sound, “we fail in it,” adds Ahamed. From blues and fusion on Behosh they went to psychedelic, prog rock on Baran. “And with this album [Kun] we’ve experimented, I may not say a lot, but whatever we’re listening to, each of us has put our influences in making this album,” says Ahamed.
Kun has been mixed by Zorran Mendonsa, mastered by Kimberly Rosen of Knack Mastering, and recorded by Shantanu Hudlikar at Mumbai’s Yash Raj Film Studios. “To anyone who’s listening to our album, switch off the shuffle button. Listen to the album from the start to the end and just experience the whole album as it is,” says Banandur.
The album opens with the title track, the only one mixed by Rahul Ranganath at MonoHive. The track ‘Kun,’ which Iqbal explains “was an afterthought,” is a distorted instrumental, becoming increasingly tense and instantly signalling a new direction for Parvaaz from their two 2017 stand-alone singles ‘Colour White’ and ‘Shaad’. Next is ‘Harf,’ a well-made rock song with Urdu poetry, drawing listeners back to familiar Parvaaz territory. It’s followed by ‘Mushq-e-Gul’ which starts with a scratchy door opening, wind-chimes glimmering, and a gentle guitar inviting Ahamed’s vocals, the track being a short, musical poem meditating on the solitude of the heart.
Next on Kun is the atmospheric ‘Soye Ja,' followed by ‘Shabaan,’ meaning separation, which showcases Ahamed’s vocal depth and prowess, echoing the track to an affecting close. It “was a very old guitar riff that Khalid had and it finally formed into this new song,” says Iqbal about ‘Shabaan.’ ‘Zindaano’ takes a spirited turn, thrusting listeners out of the familiarity they created over the first half of the album and into an energising, mobilising mood. And then ‘Katyi Rov’ shifts to a poignant, melancholic mood, fitting lyrics which are the poetic lamentation of a wounded soul. Next is ‘Mastaan’ which opens with chirpy birds and chirpier guitar, and an upbeat quality still laced with Parvaaz’s intense lyrics. ‘Mastaan’ is another old track; “we revitalised [it] for this album. It was something me and Khalid had made about eight to nine years ago,” says Iqbal.
The atmospheric album closes with ‘Dasht-Ba-Dasht’ which has energetic guitar riffs and soulful, overlapping vocals, leaving listeners with distortion in the last minute of the track, differently reminiscing the start of the album. Although a technically skilled undertaking and well-defined emotional journey, Parvaaz understands Kun primarily as a musical experiment. “You know [we] try to search for the sound of the band, which we are still searching [for],” says Ahamed.
For Kun, Parvaaz is planning an audio-visual, concept launch tour. “The whole point of doing a live show is to give an experience that stays with them forever. I think all of this is a package. The live performance, the music, the lights, the production, and even the identity. It’s a whole package,” explains Banandur. And they’ve deliberately slated the tour for later in the year, first giving listeners enough time to familiarise themselves with the album. “The idea of releasing [Kun] was giving the music out first and then going for a tour… We want to give the listener a different perspective of listening to the album from start to end,” adds Ahamed, aiming to leave audiences with a vision of that deeply thoughtful quality which their music reflects.
Parvaaz will perform in Mumbai on 9 November. More details here.
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