Traditional Indian Music with a twist: Brother & Sister act Parveen & Ilyas

Mixing up old traditions, brother and sister act Parveen & Ilyas (Parveen Sabrina and Ilyas Raphaël Khan) combine traditional Indian song with rhythmic beatboxing! Performing with virtuosity & incredible skill, this special duo provide a fresh take on Indian music and sit perfectly at the intersection between tradition and modernity. 

Ahead of their performance at Hotter Than July festival on Sunday 29th July in Smithfield Square, we spoke to Ilyas about the duo's musical background and their approach to traditional Indian music. 


Q: Tell us a bit about your introduction to Indian Traditional music?

We are siblings born to two different cultures: a Breton mother an Indian father. We were raised between these two cultures. We grew up in India where belonging to a musical lineage, and we started learning music according to 'Taleem' the traditional manner of learning music orally from a master or a 'guru'.

Parveen took to singing at the age of six. (Dr, Leelewati Asdule, Emrat Dewaka, Abid Ali) and me from our father and grandfather as well as tabla maestro, Hidayat Khan sahib. Our father, Hameed Khan Kaw, being a musician himself, really supported us and made us perform very early and meet musicians from different cultures. 

Q: How did you approach learning these traditions? How do you think this approach compares with other genres and cultures? 

Indian music, folk as well as traditional, has always been an oral tradition. Even with the recent approach of writing music, it remains almost exclusively oral. Few music schools exist, but the teacher-student relationship is privileged. This kind of relationship includes complete trust and submission to the guru.

It is this trust and respect that brings out this very special relationship as well as the art learned. We were extremely lucky to have a musical family and thus this came to us from a very young age. We found similiar ways of traditions in folk music here, especially celtic music with which we have collaborated several times. 

Q: What made you decide to include modern techniques (like beatboxing!) with your traditional playing? Is that how you think the traditions will develop into the future? 

I wanted to include Beatboxing with my traditional music so that this beautiful traditional music that people have made for generations doesn’t disappear, and that it continues to influence the new generations like me to keep this music alive.  


Thanks, Ilyas! 

See Ilyas & Parveen perform live this weekend, on Saturday 28th July in The Sugar Club, Dublin, as part of the Big Bang Festival of Rhythm, (book tickets) followed by their appearance at our FREE festival event 'Hotter Than July' on Sunday 29th July in Smithfield Square! More info HERE

– posted