Playing music in one’s first language is a way for immigrant communities to keep their cultural identities alive. naQsh IPB is a Surrey based trio that plays a mix of classical and alternative rock with lyrics sung in Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi. naQsh translates as ‘Impression’ in Hindi/Urdu, while IPB stands for Indo-Pakistani Band.
Indian-born vocalist and rhythm guitarist Daksh Kubba, Pakistani-born lead guitarist Imran Habib and bass guitarist Irfan Lawrance, hope to reverse the belief that music popular in South Asia needs to be made there instead of the Indo-Pakistani diaspora living here in Canada.
Instead, naQsh IPB is setting its sights high and attempting to launch a career that will make them stars in their respective homelands while maintaining their connection to the Canadian musical landscape.
When your career chooses you
Kubba – the group’s primary songwriter and composer as well as vocalist and rhythm guitar player – did not grow up playing music, nor planned on a career in the field. In fact, he only learned how to play the guitar after moving to Vancouver a decade ago.
While studying at Simon Fraser University, Kubba began to play music through the school’s South Asian club and joined a few street jazz and bhangra dance teams who helped fuel his love of music and the arts.
Kubba began to perform at local community dinners and dances and followed that with stints with JoSH, a well-known Canadian Indo-Pakistani bhangra musical group.
In 2007, Kubba formed naQsh IPB along with Habib and Lawrance. Since Kubba is Indian and Habib and Lawrance are Pakistani, they chose the ‘IPB’ portion of the group’s name as a conscious allusion to the hope for harmony between the two countries.
“There’s always tension between the two [India and Pakistan]. It’s just our way of spreading the message of unity through our music,” Kubba explains.
A shared inspiration
A shared love of both classical rock and Indo-Pakistani music provides a strong bond for all three band members. Kubba, Habib, and Lawrance alike cite artists such as the internationally renowned Pakistani musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as one of their musical role models, along with western rock influences.
“Pakistan got exposed to western music a lot earlier, and we as teenagers were greatly inspired by artists like Pink Floyd, Scorpions, Led Zeppelin, U2, and a lot of different rock legends,” says Habib.
Lawrance believes the diverse cultural backgrounds of naQsh IPB’s members infuse their music with depth and originality.
“Being exposed to both – quite diverse – music scenes, English and Indian/Pakistani, we believe that our music has a wide range of tone selection and covers both cultures, creating a unique mix,” he says.
Making it big back home
Though the band continues to play at smaller local events, they opened for the famous Pakistani rock band Junoon in 2009 and performed for 10,000 people at LiveCity Yaletown during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
naQsh IPB has just recently released their debut single and music video Saajna (‘Lover’ in Hindi/Punjabi), a unique ballad whose lyrics explore feelings of love and anger, and whose black and white video has a distinct surrealist feel.
The video was mostly shot in Pakistan which, like India, offers a large market that the band hopes to tap into.
After a delay in the renewal of his Canadian work visa forced Kubba to quit his job with Apple, he decided to pursue music full time. He plans to head to India early next year with the hopes of building both his own, and the band’s musical careers there.
Kubba will be working on a score for a Bollywood film, as well as composing instrumental electronic music where he will experiment with mixing R&B and hip-hop elements with sitar sounds.
Even if he ends up living back in India, Kubba would like to maintain ties to Canada, and the Indo-Pakistani diaspora that launched his new career.
On Nov. 8, naQsh IPB will be playing for that audience at the Chai House Diwali Fest concert, held at the Studio Theatre at the Surrey Arts Centre. The band will largely present Bollywood favourites mixed with a few of their original compositions.
For more information about the Chai House Diwali Fest concert, visit
For more on naQsh IPB, visit
and to download their debut single Saajna free of charge go to