Hip hop, pop and JoSH: Indians in Melbourne, Sydney get a blast of bhangra

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JoSH: "Rup" (Rup Magon) and "Q" (Qurram Hussain). Photo: JoSH Facebook page

‘JoSH the Band’ tours Australia for the first time. They can’t wait, and neither can we. Band members Rup and Q give The Indian Sun the story behind their chart-topping success

MTV Artist of the Years in both India and Pakistan; Performing with Nelly Furtado at Andheri Stadium Mumbai in front of 80,000 fans; Becoming brand ambassadors for Samsung and McDonalds; Performing all around the world including Singapore, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, London… and now Canadian bhangra music group ‘JoSH the Band’ is set to tour Australia for the first time next week. The Indian Sun catches up with band members “Rup” (Rup Magon) and “Q” (Qurram Hussain), who have become world famous for their modern and bhangra beats influenced by hip hop and pop.

★ What did you and Q do before ‘JoSH’ started? Do you come from musical families?

We both coincidentally worked for the same company called Sygenics, a software database developer. Q was on the technical side while I was on the business development side. The truth is, we would spend a lot of time exchanging musical ideas at work. Our boss, Raj Vadavia was fully aware of it and also was one of of our main inspirations to take JoSH to higher levels.

★ How did ‘JoSH’ start?

JoSH was originally a five piece band that performed Bollywood and Pakistani covers at University Students associations. After a few years of doing that, Q and I were the only two who were passionate about giving the music business a run for its money. We then made a demo using an eight-track machine that we rented and started shopping it around in Mumbai. For five years straight, record companies denied us until finally, we released, Main Hoon Tanha with TIPS music. Unfortunately, the album wasn’t a success. Our second album Kabhi however, took a turn for the best and ended up bagging us MTV Artist of The Year. That same year we had produced a worldwide chart topper with Nelly Furtado called, ‘Powerless JoSH Desi Remix’. Since then, we’ve released a total of four studio albums, lots of collaborations, some film tracks, and have never looked back!

Photo: JoSH Facebook page
★ What was the element that brought you guys together? Was there a particular intention/concept in mind?

I think the one thing we had in common was the utter passion and drive to get our music out to the world. Writing original songs and sharing it with the world gave us a high. At that time there was no social media, so getting a song out worldwide was definitely a lot harder. We welcomed rejection with open arms and kept going until we achieved our goal.

★ I love the fact that you guys are a marriage of India/Pakistan & Sikh/Muslim. Do you consider yourself to be ambassadors of unity?

Quite honestly, not really. We met in a French Canadian city called Montreal. There weren’t many desis there to begin with. So when you met someone of your own skin tone, you immediately smiled, shook hands, and began to chat. To top it off, we had found musicians in each other. What could be better!

It never mattered that I was Indian and he was Pakistani. Understandably, in the eyes of the world, it was a sign of unity. But one thing we can say for sure after traveling back and forth of the border, there is unity and love among the people. Sure there are fanatics and misinformed individuals that are perhaps not entirely in love with the other side, but we believe that love and music can ultimately change that.

Photo: JoSH Facebook page
★ Rup, you have recently acted in your 3rd feature film, The Black Prince“. How is your acting career developing?

The Black Prince was an experience I’ll never forget. From having to act with a British accent, to being on screen with Shabana Azmi. I learned many things both on and off set about how the film business works. I am in the process of signing a few new films and actually love the movie business as much music! It’s new and exciting.

★ How has your music evolved? How would you describe it at the moment?

Although our musical backgrounds were different when we started, we would easily agree on the sound and direction that a song was taking. As we’ve grown older, become family men, and experienced music in a whole new way, its becoming harder and harder to agree on a song. Just like everyone, tastes and life goals become different .with time. In the same way, so do musical tastes. At the moment, we are in a cloud, figuring out what’s next. It’s a great place to be and we will soon come out with that JoSH sound our fans are waiting for.

★ Do you have a personal JoSH favourite?

I think I can speak for Q and say that he’s always had a major connection to ‘Kabhi’. It was one of his first hit compositions and will always be our baby. For me, ‘Mausam’ as well. It was produced after our album was completed and delivered. When the record companies heard it, there were in love and immediately suggested that we add the track!

Photo: JoSH Facebook page
★ You guys are regulars in the Karachi music scene, performing at award functions. How would you describe your experience in Pakistan?

The music scene in Pakistan has its ups and downs. Live performances tend to increase or decrease depending on the political status. The one thing I can say that never decreases however, is the audiences thirst for original music. A prime example of that is the success of Coke Studio and Pepsi Battle of the Bands. We’ve been fortunate to perform on both stages. We love performing in Pakistan and are so appreciative of the fans who sing and dance with us at our concerts!

★ What are your latest projects?

We are currently working on our new albums as well as an OST for a Drama series.

★ Is this your first time in Australia?

YES! This our first time and we can’t wait!


JoSH will perform in Melbourne on 25 January and in Sydney on 26 January. Check out their FB page for more details

 

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