I WANT TO FIND MORE TIME TO MAKE MUSIC, SAYS THE DESI MUNDA TESHER WHO IS RULING HEARTS

Recently, someone has become a sensation because he looks like the young version of Sharukh Khan. With his amazing beats and unbeatable remixes that are hard to resist, he has become an undeniable force in the new music scene, interestingly, out of his bedroom. He creates remixes with all kinds of genres which you would never imagine could go together. Tesher is our man and we had an interview with him to talk about what drives him and why his music is unique. Here is a small excerpt from the interview

Scott: So Tesher, tell us a little bit about how you got started? How long you’ve been in the game?

Tesher: I’ve been making music as a serious hobby since 2005 or 2006; I was quite young when I started. But it’s only in these past couple of years that I’ve been putting a bit more effort into it and trying to maximize the reach on my songs. And this year in particular has been really great to me. A lot of great songs; great to me, I don’t know if it’s been great to anybody else. But I can’t complain about a couple of records that really reached a lot of people. It’s been a long time coming but finally feels like I’ve arrived.

Scott: Right. And where are you based out of?

Tesher: So I currently live in Toronto. I’m from a small city named Regina that’s right in the middle of Canada. Everybody thinks of Toronto on one side and Vancouver on the other side and the city I’m from is right in the middle of the country. That’s where the family is, but I’m in Toronto.

Scott: So what is the scene like in Toronto? Do you collaborate a lot? What are your influences? What do you do? What do you look for, musically, when you’re out and, and dealing with people collaborating and mixing?

Tesher: One way where my music career has been very different from anybody else is that so much of it has just been contained in my room for a long time. The main thing that I was doing was just making remixes. And whether those are mashups, where it’s simpler, just take two songs and put them together. But as I got better at it, it started to become full on completely original productions. And I would take the vocal track out of a song, and then create a remix. And this entire time, honestly, I’ve just been doing it myself; I’m the quintessential bedroom producer, living the dream from my room. And it’s only the past year where people have been reaching out wanting to collaborate. And I haven’t really indulged in any collaboration thus far. I’ve so many things that I want to do by myself first, that I feel like I need to get my vision a bit more concrete, especially when it comes to original music because I’m making original music now. I want to start doing collaboration when I have more of a basis as to what is the sound that I want to want to really put out there.

Miraal: So what is the sound that you want to put out there?

Tesher: That’s the big question. If I had to describe it in a nutshell, for now it’s fusion. Whatever it’s going to be, it’s going to be definitely a cross cultural mix. For example. Last week, I put out a new single named Jalebi Baby, and that’s the intersection of Bollywood, Salsa, Reggaeton, Punjabi music and hip hop.

Miraal: We have a story for Jalebi Baby by the way that I want to share with you. So when the song came out we gave it to Scott. And Scott did not know what jalebi was. So we asked him to go to an Indian restaurant in Columbus, Ohio to figure out. And they did not have Jalebi on the menu and Scott was very, very disappointed.

Scott: I thought maybe they had set me up, asking for something that doesn’t exist.

Miraal: I mean, imagine you are an Indian restaurant not having gulab jamun or jalebi?

Tesher: Scott, do you know what it is now? Has it been explained to you?

Scott: I do. And it’s like a snack. That’s a line from the song. I’m well versed now in Jellybean, at least the Tesher variety of jalebi.

Tesher: It’s very tasty. Honestly, I’m surprised that you didn’t encounter it because it was just Diwali this last weekend. And the thing with Diwali is it’s all about sweets; everybody’s giving sweets out to their loved ones and stuff. So I’m very surprised that wherever you went didn’t have it. I feel like you need to go to a sweets shop. They have specific Indian sweet shops, and they’ll definitely have one.

Scott: You’re probably right. And I think with COVID, you have shutdowns and supply chain issues.

Tesher: Who knows, we might have a jalebi shortage.

Miraal: He’s in Canada, he’s safe, we’re the ones in trouble right now.

Scott: Speaking of COVID, it’s interesting because you talked about how a couple years ago you really got rolling and started producing. How did COVID interrupt that or what did it do? I know you’re a bedroom producer. So in some ways what effect did it have on you?

Tesher: It’s been completely transformative and it feels weird saying this, but it’s almost the best thing that ever happened. I’ve got a nine to five job and that’s taken up so much of my time between doing the job and commuting. It’s a pretty long commute to where I work and when I get home, dead tired, got to make dinner first. So by the time I get to music, it’s like already after seven o’clock, and I woke up that morning at six, and I’m exhausted. But I want to do the thing that I love. So of course, I’m going to make time for it. I’m going to bring myself to the laptop and get it going. But as soon as work from home started, all of a sudden, I’m home and I’m in my room all the time. If I finished my work early, I can just get to the music. And I have no commute so now I can start working on my music at five. So that’s one thing that happened to me a lot more time to work on music.

And then the second thing is that with everybody else being at home and with TikTok really blowing up this year, a lot of the songs that I made, part of the reason why they became so popular is because they blew up on TikTok. So I don’t even know if those songs would have even blown up on tik tok because TikTok might not even have been as big of a thing. Because everybody was home doing nothing and decided to make some videos to entertain themselves; that was the whole appeal behind that app. So no, COVID had like, as far as I’m concerned, a direct impact on this year being a breakout year for me.

Scott: That’s so interesting. You’re not the first person to say that. Having that time freed up from not having that soul draining commute, or not having to spend so much time in the office, it’s given me so much more time.

Miraal: It’s given me so much more time for creative pursuits, just because I’m not commuting. So, Tesher, just for our listeners and viewers, could you tell us a little bit more about your background? What did you study? Where did you study? What’s your real name?

Tesher: So yeah, born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan. And I moved out to Ontario for the second half of my undergrad degree. I did a degree in business administration. I went to Western University out in London, Ontario, so it’s a two hour drive from Toronto. And after that, I took a digital marketing job in Toronto, living the whole downtown life. I’ve always enjoyed music, but I never really allowed myself to see it as a legitimate path for myself. That’s why I call it a serious hobby because it was the thing that I did to entertain myself. It was something I love doing. But after I graduated and started working for a while, I’m like; this is not what my life is going to be like. I can’t be the guy who goes to work and sits in the cubicle nine to five and then commutes home. That’s not who I am. I’m a creative person and energetic person. But there’s people whose life is perfect for and that’s what they want to do. God bless them. But it was not for me. Then I started to put more effort into the music that I wanted to make and that’s how we ended up here.

My real name is Hitesh. And the way that I got to Tesher is that, living in the part of Canada that I did, there were some brown people, but not a lot. And I walked into homeroom one day in the 10th grade, and my friend Tia saw me walk in and said, Hey, Tesher, how’s it going? And in that moment, it clicked. I’m like, that’s my name, that’s what I was looking for, a stage name. Up until that point, I didn’t have a good one. But I became Tesher and it’s been that ever since.

Miraal: So you’re Punjabi and you speak many languages?

Tesher: Yeah, my mom is from Haryana and my dad is born in New Delhi. So we speak Punjabi at home.

Miraal: Because in your songs, your accent in Punjabi and Hindi is very proper. That’s why.

Tesher: I try very hard. Honestly, whenever I rap or sing in any Indian language, I make sure to send it to my parents to get their final approval on the accent because, if I put that out, and I’m not doing it right, I’m going to get absolutely roasted. So I got to make sure I’m 100% on that.

Scott: So you mentioned TikTok earlier and the influence that it’s had. And there’s nothing worse than the old man like me seeing a trend or a fad that young people are into and talking down about it. So if anything I say comes across as condescending, that is not at all where I’m coming from. Okay? But… I don’t get it. I don’t get the milk thing. Help me understand that. What’s going on there?

Tesher: I didn’t understand it in the beginning, either. So you’re not alone. It was later explained to me. And I feel like I should make an update video where I tell people exactly what was happening. But the whole trend was that I made this remix. And when the beat would drop on this remix, people would just cheers the camera with a container of milk and then the milk would just fall onto them. From what has been explained to me, that is not actually milk. That is what they call bhang. It is milk infused with THC. And it is kind of a cultural religious-esque drink in India, mostly used for some religious ceremonies. But the whole idea behind the challenge is the lyrics of the song. I should explain the lyrics of the remix. It’s talking about a person being intoxicated in love. So to show that they’re intoxicated in love, they’re using milk because that’s supposed to be bhang and they drink that. It’s literally just to show that they’re intoxicated in love so they’re taking this drink that has an intoxicating quality to it. So that’s the whole idea. It does make sense actually, if you look at it. To be honest, they were just too clever and I was just too stupid to actually know what was going on. So more power to TikTok because that’s pretty smart.

Scott: And for 487,000 videos that do this, that… Is that a standard number? Is that really impressive?

Tesher: Not to toot my own horn but I remember it’s at 650,000 videos range now so it’s even higher. But I wanted to figure out if my song is actually blowing up or is this just par for the course when it comes to TikTok? And somebody showed me that Justin Bieber was trying to start a viral challenge for one of his songs and it had like, maybe 200,000 and mine had 600,000 something. So it was definitely big. The thing is that it was big in India, right before TikTok got banned in India. So that’s kind of another thing to keep in mind. But to answer your question, yes, it was a big deal.

Scott: Wow. That’s not a traditional way of blowing up, right? What about monetization? And what’s your response to that popularity?

Tesher: First of all, it’s very humbling. It’s nice to know that indirectly or directly people are enjoying your music. I think that’s first and foremost; the best thing about it. As for monetization, when it comes to remixes, you can’t really monetize because of the whole copyright issue and stuff, but for example, Jalebi Baby, being an original song, every time somebody uses it TikTok, there is a slight amount of monetization. But the main thing is that whenever people make videos to your song, it just puts more of a spotlight on one, the song. And two, on you, your profile and your social media platforms. When Old Town Road vs Ramta Jogi remix went viral on TikTok, the song right afterwards, Young Shahrukh, which is a song I rapped on, went viral too. This isn’t confirmed, but my theory is that everybody who saw Old Town Road, they looked me up. And they found that the most recent song that I put out was Young Shahrukh. And since it’s a TikTok audience, they look at what my next song was and decided to make a TikTok to this. And as a result, Young Shahrukh went viral, and then Jalebi Baby went viral.

So you bring in this audience that is so privy to that social media platform, that they’ll enjoy the song in the way that they know which is making dance videos. That’s kind of the whole appeal with TikTok. Once you get them, you got to try to keep them and try to hope that they enjoy your following records as much as they enjoyed the first one.

Scott: So what’s the next step? What’s on the horizon for you?

Tesher: There’s a lot. We dropped Jalebi Baby last weekend, which was great. We’re doing merchandise. It’s coming very soon, this weekend actually. That’s an exclusive for you; Tesher merch coming this weekend. And hopefully, one more record in December. I don’t know when in December, but one more. Then in 2021, more great music and probably some collaborations. I shut myself off from collaborations because I wanted to follow through this year on all the stuff that I already planned. But I think next year is when I start looking at collaborations, partnerships, and trying to lean more into this and try to make the best of this opportunity that I now have.

Scott: What do you think Miraal?

Miraal: So Tesher, you have a dog? He is quite famous.

Tesher: Yes, I do. He’s a core part of the marketing now. The dog doesn’t live with me unfortunately; he’s not out here in Toronto with me. He’s back home with the family. But my sister likes to dress him up and do fun stuff with him on his Instagram. His name is Chai. And we named him because he is the same color as a cup of Chai. One of these days, I want to do a music video where it’s just Chai running around the park. I feel that would be better than anything I ever do in a music video.

Miraal: So do you have formal training in music? Or this is just a hobby that you do and you’re good at it. And you’re so good at it that you don’t need to be trained.

Tesher: I wouldn’t say I’m so good that I don’t need to be trained. But no, I don’t have any formal training in music. One day, post COVID I’d like to take some sort of lessons because anything I can do to get better at this craft would be obviously great. But it’s been fully self taught, all the melodies are just coming from my head. And I’ve been doing okay; people seem to enjoy it so far. But one day, I’d like to be able to play an instrument of some sort.

Scott: Is there a particular one you’re leaning towards?

Tesher: Probably the piano because of how many uses it’ll bring to everything else. All the applications and programs and plugins you use on a computer to make music, it’s all piano based. When you program melodies, it’s with the keyboard. So it would definitely be piano and then secondly guitar.

Miraal: So what’s your path forward when you start the collaborations? Do you see yourself as an independent indie artist and doing your stuff? Or is there a path to Bollywood since you’re such a big Shah Rukh fan?

Tesher: If Bollywood will have me, then I’ll gladly come over. But I think the path forward is to really take this to be as big as it possibly can. I have no interest in being a small time artist. I think being an independent artist is super important. And that’s really the future; artists being their masters and doing everything themselves. It’s more possible than ever before because everybody’s on a level playing field, everybody’s bidding on the same phone screen, everyone’s bidding on TikTok. It doesn’t matter if you’re the weekend, or if you’re somebody in a bedroom. When people are scrolling through music, everyone’s hearing whatever’s popular. It doesn’t matter if there’s a label behind it.

Miraal: And I think in a lot of ways COVID has leveled it even more because now everybody’s out there doing the thing. So your path forward is definitely going to take your now past hobby, and now a career option very seriously.

Tesher: Hopefully. That’s the plan, really trying to take this to be as big as it possibly can; making music that people like and if people keep supporting it the way that they have been, I don’t see any reason why we can’t hit billboard or chart or why we can’t get a song in a movie or have some great exciting collaborations.

Miraal: And who is your dream collaboration?

Tesher: Drake. It’s a bit cliché, being another Toronto guy, another Canadian. But I feel that would be huge for the culture and of course, mixing amazing music. And he’s always been somebody that the whole Desi community has rallied behind in his career. And the way I see it, if Drake can do multiple Spanish records, I see no reason why he can’t do an Indian record. And I feel that would change the game. We know in the desi community, you’ve got Beware Of The Boys with Jay Z and Punjabi MC. And that’s a staple that’s always played at every single function ever. And I’m not saying something can take its place but we need a new age version. And I feel like a Drake – Indian desi collaboration would set the world on fire. I don’t know if it’s going to be me or who does it but I feel like I could make something happen.

Miraal: So who’s your dream collaboration in Mumbai?

Tesher: Oh, man, there’s a lot. I’d say AR Rahman is another cliché but definitely up there. I think that’s the guy who was one of the first to fuse Western sounds and Indian sounds together; desi sounds and South Asian sounds as a whole and makes it pop and make it something that’s globally accepted. So AR Rahman number one for sure. And then I feel Badshah would be really cool. I’m a huge Badshah fan. He’s super talented and doing something like Indian rapping English rap would be cool. And thirdly, Sukhwinder Singh. I don’t know how I would do something with Sukhwinder Singh. If he’s down, I’ll figure out a way.

Scott: Speaking of Bollywood, we do a lot of Bollywood reviews of movies and TV shows. What are you watching right now? What do you what do you enjoy? What would you suggest that people check out?

Tesher: You know, I haven’t seen a new Bollywood movie in a very long time. I would say in this time of COVID, this is a perfect time to revisit the classics. I’ll give you three movies that that you should watch during COVID if you want to get into Bollywood.

Number one is Don the Shah Rukh Khan movie. To be honest, that is the direct inspiration for Young Shahrukh. The whole cool guy, Young Shahrukh vibes comes from the aesthetic that’s presented in Don. Right. Anytime I’ve had friends that wanted to get into Bollywood, I would show them Don because it’s very accessible for somebody who hasn’t seen a Bollywood movie. Not a lot of song and dance, but still has that dramatic vibe. So Don is number one. Number two is Hera Pheri. It’s hilarious, just Bollywood humor at its best and an absolute classic. And number three is Hadh Kar Di Aapne. Any Govinda movie from the late 90s and early 2000s are absolutely hilarious and the music is so good. And the way that they’re acting is just so exaggerated, but also so fun and funny to watch. There’s this one scene that I always show people, no matter if they’re brown or white or anything else. In a nutshell, he’s a private investigator and he’s trying to get pictures of these people caught in the act, but he’s in the TV that is in the room, and he disguises himself as an Arab singer, and then a Chinese singer. It would probably get canceled today but if you look at it through the lens of that time, it’s actually very funny and really iconic.

Miraal: So we know you’re a Shara Gobinda fan. We also know what your three go to movies are for Bollywood. And we know your real name. So that was a fun conversation. Is there something you want to tell our listeners?

Tesher: Thank you for supporting me. And if you don’t know who I am, check out Tesher on YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, and lots more stuff coming very soon.

Miraal: What do you want to tell the desi kids? The desi youngsters who are looking at a career in music?

Tesher: Keep going, or if you’re scared of starting just start. Because that’s how it started for me, I just randomly started making little remixes that were really bad when I was in fourth or fifth grade. And now I’m on the cusp of doing this on a much bigger scale. So don’t let your dreams be dreams. Keep at it and you never know what might click, what might hit. So keep at it.

Miraal: And to the desi uncles and desi aunties who want the kids to be doctors and engineers, what do you got to say?

Tesher: Well, I was in that same boat, too. I would say, there’s no reason you can’t do both. I, on the insistence of my parents went through the entirety of high school and university and got a job. And I did that, and I’m better for it. I was interested in business and marketing, and the marketing stuff that I’ve studied has directly helped me make sure the marketing for my music has been top notch. It’s been able to help me cut through the weeds and really get my music to whoever needs to hear it. So you never know how these things will help you. So I would say, stick with it. Find something that’s a compromise. If you hate absolutely everything, that’s just impossible. You’re going to like something; I didn’t want to be a doctor, engineer or a lawyer. But I was a creative person and I thought marketing; that’s kind of creative. So I chose that path. I would say there’s no harm in going to school, getting a degree and making your parents happy. They gave you everything. So it’s the least you can do. But at some point, if you really love something your parents will come around and support you and help you reach the goals that you want to reach.

Miraal: Well, it’s a pleasure talking to you, Tesher. It’s so great to get to know you a little bit more. And of course, I’m sure your audience would too.

Tesher: Thank you guys so much for having me.

So all those who have missed out the interview with Tesher with desis.live, do go and check it out on our website and do not forget to support talented musicians like Tesher by listening to their music. His new album is out on various apps like spotify. You can also follow him on Instagram just like can follow us too. Our id is desilivegram. Follow us to be up to date on all the Bollywood gossip.

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