Surrey-based band En Karma headlines the free Downtown Bhangra event June 17 at Surrey City Hall plaza. (photo: submitted)

En Karma keen to headline free ‘Downtown Bhangra’ festival event in Surrey

Festival-vet band among performers at annual City of Bhangra, which runs from June 11 to 17

SURREY — The City of Bhangra Festival gets going this weekend at Surrey and Vancouver venues, and Nick Chowlia sounds excited to take in the series of annual happenings.

“It’s always a great event,” raved Chowlia, whose band, En Karma, is a headliner at the 2017 festival, which runs from June 11 to 17.

The event, billed as the largest bhangra festival in North America, is presented by the Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, or VIBC.

En Karma, with Chowlia on keyboards, will play the festival’s marquee event, Downtown Bhangra, which this year moves from a site in Vancouver to the plaza at Surrey City Hall, from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 17.

Chowlia was among the band’s founding members back in 2006, and four of the original six musicians still play together.

“Our music has changed quite a bit since then, because when we started out, we were after just the Indian market, the Punjabi market, that audience, and we weren’t too much into the festivals and what was happening around Canada,” recalled Chowlia.

“But over the years, especially after losing a couple of band members and rethinking what we were going to do, we looked at our music and who we’re performing to, and decided that what we were doing wasn’t really appealing to the masses we were performing for. So we had to change our music to be a bit more festival-friendly, so to speak. With two members moving on, we’re a bit more electronic now, and a little bit less of that rock-y thing.”

The band’s new sound is showcased in “She Kills,” a song/video released back in February. The track was remixed by Sanjay Seran, singer with the band Delhi2Dublin.

Shot in Vancouver, the video shows the band members jamming out the bhangra beats in a recording studio and inviting longtime pal Seran to join in the vibe.

“That’s the new sound we’re doing, with the changes we had in our (band) lineup, and the next single sees us change it up even a bit more, with sitars and EDM sounds,” Chowlia reported. “Those changes challenge me, for sure, because I play keys and produce the music. It’s about learning new styles and experimenting a bit more with sounds.”

In addition to Chowlia, En Karma today features the talents of Pip Dhaliwal (drums), Inder Kooner (vocals), Ricky Thinda (bass) and Karm Cooner (dhol).

The band, long a favourite on the summer festival circuit, loves playing for crowds in Surrey, said Chowlia, who lives here and works at RedFM as the radio station’s technical director.

“(VIBC) decided to move (Downtown Bhangra) to Surrey and to see how it goes here, but it doesn’t matter to us where it’s held, we’ll go out there and rock it as always,” he said. “It’s a homecoming show for us, and we love performing in Surrey, for close friends and family to see us, the people who have supported us from Day One. And now we have a bit of a different sound for people to hear, so I’m sure we’ll get some feedback from those people, too. It’s great to be home for those reasons.”

The festival’s City of Bhangra event will also feature singer Zora Randhawa, rapper Fateh, DJ Intense (who wrote the music for last summer’s “Suit”), San Diego-based Sabrina and South Surrey resident Kirti Arneja.

The six-day City of Bhangra Festival promises “tons of #BhangraLove” and more than 350 featured performers.

Other festival events in Surrey include VIBC’s Desi Music Incubator, a free, six-hour session set for Saturday (June 11) at Surrey Arts Centre. The event, sponsored by Music BC and Creative BC, offers a series of skill-building and networking sessions for youth interested in music and the music business, , including a music-production workshop with India’s EDM superstar Nucleya, a lyric workshop with Vancouver rapper Horsepowar, a DJ-ing workshop with DJ Khanvict and an industry workshop with members of Music BC, Nimbus and SOCAN.

Also in Surrey, a Bhangra Heavyweights dance party happens on Saturday, June 17 at the Crystal at York banquet hall, starting at 10 p.m.

In Vancouver, festival events include the inaugural Reel Bhangra short-film fest June 12 at Vancity Theatre (to include the debut screening of Bhangra City, produced by Delhi2Dublin with funding from Telus), and a performance by Rupi Kaur, author and multi-media artist, at the Vogue Theatre on June 14.

More festival details are posted at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Do you have someone you would like to thank? Or maybe something to get off your chest? Email your rose or rotten tomato to
Roses and Rotten Tomatoes (Oct. 22, 2020)

Our weekly collection of compliments and complaints sent in by readers

The Surrey Eagles are currently seeking billet families for its players in advance of the 2020-‘21 BC Hockey League season. (Garrett James photo)
Surrey Eagles in ‘desperate’ need of billet families for BCHL season

COVID-19 pandemic has made finding homes for players difficult: billet co-ordinator

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
Bill Fraser Health for excessive mental-health-related police time at White Rock hospital: top cop

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Left, Rowena Leivo early on in her volunteer career with the South Surrey/White Rock Food Bank. Right, Leivo in the food bank Tuesday. (Contributed photos)
After 34 years, ‘The Boss’ retires from South Surrey Food Bank volunteer gig

Rowena Leivo, 90, spent a third of her life volunteering at the food bank

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
UPDATE: Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

In this file photo, snow is seen falling along the Coquihalla Highway. (Liam Harrap/Revelstoke Review)
Weather statement issued for Coquihalla, Hwy 3, as arctic front approaches

The early season snowfall expected to hit Fraser Valley, Friday, Oct. 23

Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

The website Chigoby is among eight scam online retailers that have been identified by the Better Business Bureau. The site was fraudulently using an Abbotsford residential address, but has since switched to one in Poland.
8 scam online-shopping websites fraudulently use Abbotsford address

Better Business Bureau says victims lost hundreds for non-existent or poor-quality products

Most Read