Friday, April 22, 2016

Naqsh’s global identity


In a chat with Instep, vocalist Daksh Kubba talks about the band’s musical journey and their upcoming new video for the song ‘Iltejah’

Cross-border collaborations have given Indian and Pakistani musicians a chance to merge their talents and make interesting music while transcending the barriers of nationality and helping bridge the gap between the two countries. One such Indo-Pak band came together in Canada nearly a decade ago when New Delhi-born singer Daksh Kubba teamed up with Pakistani Canadian musicians Imran Habib and Irfan Lawrence to form Naqsh in 2007. The trio released a couple of singles before unveiling their debut album Saptak in May 2015.

In a chat with Instep, the group’s vocalist talks about the band’s musical journey thus far and tells us about their upcoming new video for the song ‘Iltejah’.

Instep: How has being a “Canadian Indo-Pak” band influenced the sound of Naqsh? What flavours of Canadian, Indian, and Pakistani music have you incorporated into your sound?
Daksh Kubba:
[Each of us brought] our cultural flavours with us. Imran and Irfan brought more rock, and I used to write more romantic style ballad songs. Coming together in Canada and spending time with musicians here influenced our style of playing in subtle ways through the change in rhythm, change in mixing and mastering of the songs, and doing music videos in unique ways.

Instep: Why did you name the band Naqsh?
Imran bhai chose the name. Naqsh means “imprint” and through our music and our compositions we hope to leave a mark; even if it touches a few lives and makes them feel strongly about how we feel, [we hope] what we express connects [listeners] with us.

Instep: What inspired you to become a musician? Are there any artists you particularly look up to?
I used to sing and write before [joining Naqsh]. What got me into instruments and completed me as a musician is my good old friend Taimoor Salahuddin a.k.a. Mooroo. Thanks to him I picked up the guitar, and it got me started on the path of solo performance and joining Naqsh.

Instep: What do you bring to the music industry that sets you apart from other pop rock acts in the region?
I think we are very unique, because we have very different skill sets that we bring to Naqsh.
Irfan Bhai is an all-rounder. He plays bass and drums and instantaneously figures out chords when we’re composing; we just have to tell him what the feeling needs to be – sad, happy, angry, ‘bhayanak!’ – and he’ll play a chord for it. He also has an amazing voice and loves singing ghazals.
Imran Bhai is completely rock. Being the lead guitarist, he thinks, eats, sleeps, and breathes electric guitars. Once he is in his zone, he comes up with crazy leads. Just listen to ‘Iltejah’.
I am more about writing meaningful lyrics and composing, introducing different patterns, playing around with time signatures, and using subtle changes that people will feel when they listen to our music.

Instep: You released your debut album, Saptak, last year. How would you describe the album?
Call me biased but I love the album! The reason for that is because you cannot put a genre on the album. Every song is very different from the other, except the two that purposely were made very similar – ‘Pagli’ and ‘Musu’; yet their videos are very different. These two are “lovey dovey” songs.
‘Pagli’ is my favorite. It’s made to inspire women to pursue whatever they want to do in life. Women have it really hard in our culture and have to struggle much more than men to achieve the smallest of things, so this song is truly for them.

Instep: Why did you title the record ‘Saptak’?
Saptak signifies the seven sur in classical music, with the first and last sur being similar and the rest being different. In the same way, our album has ‘Pagli’ and ‘Musu’, which are very similar, and the rest of the songs are very different: ‘Kaka’ is a funny, jumpy song; ‘Iltejah’ a request for peace in the world; ‘Megha’ a fast monsoon song; ‘Saajna’ a slow progressive rock love song; and ‘Armaan’ a break up song.

Instep: You guys have released a handful of singles/videos. How do you select which song and video to release next? Are there any particular characteristics that make a song a good candidate for a video?
Every song we make, we really take our time with it and feel every aspect of it through the composition process. Whatever we feel the strongest about in the moment, that’s what we choose to do. At the moment our aim is to make music videos for all the songs we produce.

Instep: You will release the video for ‘Iltejah’ next. Please tell us about the song.
There are a lot of bad things happening in the world, especially in our home countries, which is very saddening. This song is just a plea to humanity to stop that, and at the very least perform an act of kindness towards someone.

Instep: What can you tell us about the ‘Iltejah’ video?
We are in talks with an amazingly talented director, Syed Noor, who also directed ‘Saajna’ for us. He has a concept ready which we can’t wait to disclose when the right time comes. We are blessed to have his artistic brain on our side.

Instep: With your Indian and Pakistani backgrounds, how do you feel about the ties between the two countries? Do you think the entertainment industry can bridge the gap between these neighbouring countries?
This is ‘the’ reason for me to be where I am with Naqsh. I truly believe music can have the influence to bridge the gap, and it already has in small amounts, us being an example. Our song ‘Iltejah’ speaks to that as well. Nothing would satisfy my soul more than bridging the gap between our two homes through our music, and that’s really the Naqsh – imprint – we want to leave.

Instep: Are you working on new music or any other projects at the moment? What can we expect from you in the coming months?
We are working on a couple of cover songs, music video for ‘Iltejah’, and a rock concert in collaboration with Decibel Entertainment which we are very excited about. It’s very similar in theme to our album launch last year. We post updates weekly on Instagram and Facebook letting everyone know what we’re up to. Leave us a note, comment, suggestion, or even any feedback you may have because we love connecting with people and we really keep that at the forefront.

- By Sameen Amer

22nd April, 2016 - Instep Today, The News *

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