Qurram Hussein aka Q of Josh knows a lot about music, and it shows.
“Qurram Hussain is tough to describe. In simple terms, he is someone who is curious about his own emotions, and at the end of the day, expresses himself in every possible manner. Yet, I’m able to maintain my inner geek, so a ‘geeky musician’ is where my description might land right now.”
On Desan da Raja with Komal Rizvi
“Working with Komal was interesting because of all of the times I’ve interacted with her, we were like ‘we’ll work together some day’. 'Desan da Raja' sounded different and people liked it, so we gave it a modern twist. Komal was open to new ideas and she kept up with the changes. She went along with everything, every line was captured in the video of the song and it is amazing how we connect.”
Kama with Hardwell and Domeno
“'Kama' was [an] exciting [track] for me. [Canadian DJ] Domeno said that he wanted a desi drop in the song. The main part in the song was composed first, and Domeno said that he needed something in the beginning of the song that would get the attention of masses.
“The first line in the song is what I came up with, which described the feeling of missing someone. It was spiritual for me. Domeno was blown away with it, and the synergy of the song was really good. Hardwell blessed the song with his presence, and he even let us come to one of his concerts so we were able to shoot parts of the video at the concert. When so much positive energy goes into a project, it just cannot fail.”
“Doing new stuff is exciting and at that time, your biggest accomplishment. When we did a project with Nelly Furtado, it was my biggest accomplishment. Then the awards we got for our albums was a real boost. Right now, I’m working with someone who is the greatest in his genre (Hardwell), and I think that’s a great achievement.”
Travels as a musician
“Travelling has given me a new dimension. Earlier, too, I would travel a lot, but not as much as I do now for gigs and concerts. When you travel alone, you interact with people and learn about their cultures and traditions, and you handle yourself according to those. Now, I’m a more grounded person and someone who can have conversations with different kinds of people.”
A memory with Rup
“Rup and I have had a long journey and are very similar because we didn’t come from entertainment backgrounds and there were many ups and downs since we didn’t have any contacts. We had to start with zero and made our own contacts. We were our own support system. We got kicked out of record companies, and it was all heartbreaking.
“Once I got a letter sitting at the stoop of my apartment. It said: ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ I was crying, Rup came up to me and started consoling me. He hugged me and said, ‘Don’t worry, we’ll do this. Let’s just keep working at it and see what we can do.’ I guess that kind of experience brings you closer to a person, when two people go through battles together. I knew then that we would always remain brothers for the rest of our lives.”
The story behind ‘Q’
“Moving to Montreal from Karachi in 1994, I landed in a city where the majority of the people spoke French. Telling everyone that my name is Qurram was really hard as they could not pronounce it properly. My friends took up the task of making my name easier and ‘Q’ came to be. It’s not a glamorous, music-related story but it makes my life easier!”
The thing about Pakistan
“Pakistan has changed in the last 20 years with many ups and downs, yet I still have faith in Pakistan because of the people. I think they’re really dedicated to making Pakistan a better place. I haven’t experienced this strength anywhere else in the world yet.
“The music industry in Pakistan is on its way back, and things are looking pretty bright. I’m getting involved in some great initiatives. I’ll be sharing a lot more with all of you pretty soon.”
In five years’ time
“In the next five years, I think I’ll be doing more production work rather than just singing, because it allows me to experiment. I can’t sing songs that don’t suit my voice. I want to use a little bit of myself and my presence to spread more goodwill at a bigger scale. I want to impact more lives, and I’m becoming part of a few things which will help me to do just that.
“I’m not super-passionate about acting, but musically, I want to use my persona to do a lot more for Pakistan.”
“Music icons, for me, keep changing, and the list is too long! I flip-flop between people I consider the greatest musicians. If I’m looking for ideas, I refer to different songs. I keep going back to R.D. Burman as I think his ideas still stand the test of time. Currently, he’s the icon that I’m the most connected with. If you ask me tomorrow, it might be Slash because I’m making a rock song. It might be Eddie Vader later, because I’m looking to write about something that really matters.”
Komal Rizvi on the collaboration
“The experience was tremendous. Q is very friendly and humble. We decided to do 'Desan da Raja' when Josh was in Pakistan on tour. I rewrote my lyrics and so did Qurram, and DJ T from Canada produced the track in an immaculate manner. It is not a remix of the original version but an altogether new track.”
Originally published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, July 31st, 2016