Indian indie band Parvaaz signals the renaissance of rock music
Ahead of the band’s tour in Hyderabad, Khalid, Sachin, Fidel, and Bharath of the Bengaluru-based Parvaaz open up to us about their creative process and what it means for them to win over hearts
Rock and roll, in its different artistic guises, has been played in many urban areas of India for decades despite being considered a fringe genre within the larger spectrum of Indian popular musical activities. Despite current trends, rock music has had a mixed history in India, with resurgences occurring on a regular basis. Rock music in India has long held a treasured position in relation to the nation’s other musical genres. From the 1960s, when the genre was primarily composed of English cover bands to its early 21st-century incarnation, numerous bands played progressive and classic rock, metal, fusion, indie, and blues as the art form reached out to us in a variety of languages.
After meeting in Bengaluru while attending college, Khalid and Kashif (ex-member) started the contemporary rock band Parvaaz in March 2010. When Sachin Banandur and Fidel Dsouza joined in late 2010 and early 2011, respectively, the band felt complete, according to the band’s own admission. While their lyrical work belongs to former co-founder and lead guitarist, Mir Kashif Iqbal, together with Khalid Ahamed and their friend Umer Ahmad Allaie, the present members of the group are Fidel Dsouza (bass), Sachin Banandur (drums and percussion), Bharath Kashyap (guitars), and Khalid Ahamed (vocals and guitars) have absorbed a number of progressive and psychedelic rock influences from around the world, yet their own expression has a foundation that gives their music a distinctive feel. Parvaaz’s music has been characterised as one that crosses genres, transporting the listener into folk, blues, and psychedelia places while encasing them in an ambient sound that is both recognisable and enigmatic.
There is no questioning that Parvaaz occupies a unique space in Indian independent music. There is no other band that sounds anything like their distinct, eclectic, and cinematic music. When their melodies are removed, their writings in Hindi, Urdu, and Kashmiri translate into exquisite poems. Their meticulously crafted tunes pull at you with undercurrents of doom and perplexity that manage to both calm and unsettle the listener at the same time. Ahead of their live performance at Artistry Hyderabad, we spoke to the band members. “This journey started with the four of us sharing common interests in music and by playing at local clubs and at festivals. Since 2010, we have been expressing ourselves and our ideologies through music," Khalid shares.
An embodiment of emotions
The year, 2011 saw the launch of Parvaaz’s first song, Dil Khush, and 2012 saw the release of their five-track debut EP (extended play), Behosh. Khufiya Dastaan, their second single, was released in 2013. Baran, their first album, containing eight tracks, was released in August 2014. They released a live full-length album called Transitions in 2016, which included previously released songs as well as the new songs Shaad and Color White. On October 18, 2019, the band introduced their nine-track album Kun. “We all enjoy producing music and performing together. It gives us the impetus to continue doing what we do because I think a good ear and good communication skills are needed for someone to become a good musician,” Bharath tells us. “According to me, the thought process you undergo when you are making music and knowing if it has a purpose is the most important aspect,” Khalid says. Several tracks from their album Baran also had guest musicians. For instance, Ab Ki Yeh Subah included violinist Sanjeev Naik of the folk and fusion band Swarathma from Bangalore, and Fitnah and Ziyankar featured saxophonist Seth Malloy. Guitarists Ramanan Chandramouli of Blushing Satellite and Michael Anthony Dias of Mad Orange Fireworks also participated in the project.
Sharing with us what Hyderabadis can expect from their upcoming tour, Khalid says, “The last time we performed live in Hyderabad was last December. We are quite excited to be back now. We love the place, the food and the vibe. We are glad to start our tour from Hyderabad this time. The crowd is growing and is receptive to the independent music scene, which feels so welcoming."
We were curious to know the meaning of Parvaaz and what the name reveals. According to Khalid, the story goes like when he along with Kashif performed their first gig at a local club years ago, before performing, they had to think of a name for themselves. They came up with the name, Parvaaz, which is the Urdu word for “flying.” “Eventually, the gig did not take place, but the name stayed with us,” Khalid shares. Their music has a very personal feel with instruments ringing melodies and other acoustic notes.
Music as a lifestyle
Like many other musicians and singers passionate about making a career in music, Khalid, Sachin, Fidel, and Bharath too tell us that they did not picture themselves pursuing any other career aside from music. Since they first joined forces, they have given their all to their music, and they still do. They believe that their rich history and local folklore have continuously influenced their music, which has become a lifestyle for them. Legendary performers from the Indian and international scenes
are among the artistes who inspire them. “We are inspired by musicians and ensembles like Nirvana, Limp Bizkit, Radiohead, Pink Floyd, Sigur Ros, Led Zeppelin and many others. We basically find inspiration just by playing music and expressing our thoughts. Sometimes we see other acts and get inspired and we come up with something refreshing. Sometimes, life itself teaches you a lot of things – like growing up as a band, how we started our journey and our daily experiences – all of it
reflects in our work,” says Fidel. Sachin adds, “Music makes us feel passionate. We can’t explain how great it feels to connect together as a band. It’s addictive!”
Khalid tells us that they all have diverse musical ideas because they come from different backgrounds. There is a lot of reworking that happens when they play together as a band. “We produce music alone, writing songs as we go. Our style keeps evolving. We keep listening to music and inspiring each other. The material world we live in; the love we find and lose; the current and the coming generation – all of these make for our themes. We also tend to write songs full of metaphors so that listeners can interpret as they wish to and feel they are their own.”
Performing in Kondapur on November 26.