In its broadest definition, “kismat” means destiny, and both Rup and Q have no doubt that they were destined to work together. Together, under the name JoSH, they have spent the past decade conquering the South Asian market with an innovative mix of pop, hip-hop and traditional Indian and Pakistani sounds. They met in their hometown, Montreal, in the mid-1990s after Rup had already formed JoSH and established the band within the city’s South Asian community. Q had played in more mainstream rock bands but found in JoSH’s approach the room to explore his growing interest in Asian underground fusion.
When JoSH performed at the Bollywood Music Awards in New York in 2000, an Indian A&R rep saw an interview they did with CNN after the show and immediately contacted them. Their sophomore album, 2004’s Kabhi, was a smash and earned them the distinction of being the first Canadian band to be named MTV India’s Artist of the Year. Even more impressive was that the following year JoSH was named MTV Pakistan’s Artist of the Year, an unprecedented achievement given the ongoing political turmoil between the two nations.
Eliminating all cultural boundaries is at the heart of JoSH’s music, and they proved it again prior to the release of their third album, 2006’s Mausam, by remixing Nelly Furtado’s hits “Powerless,” “Promiscuous” and “Maneater,” all of which became club sensations around the world.
Now with Beyond Kismat, JoSH is finally set to bring their massive success abroad back home. From the album’s pulsating opening track, “Pyar Ho Gaya,” there is a new sleekness present, something that only further accentuates the duo’s powerful vocals rooted in the traditional Sikh music Rup sang as a child, as well as their shared love of the legendary qawwali vocalist Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Perhaps more significantly, through concentrating all of their cross-cultural influences on Beyond Kismat, Rup and Q are also showing the world that social harmony can be achieved through music.
They have recently collaborated in the studio with acclaimed guitarist Jesse Cook, and Canadian filmgoers will get a sample of JoSH’s music this summer when it appears in Bon Cop, Bad Cop producer Kevin Tierney’s directorial debut, French Immersion.