Tesher Talks To Us About ‘Young Shahrukh,’ TikTok Stardom, Bollywood Mashups And More
With his unique ability to fuse Bollywood classics with current hip-hop chartbusters and releasing his biggest single, not to mention all the TikTok steam, Tesher is proving himself to be a name you should take note of.
Tesher, aka Hitesh Sharma, lived most of his life as a simple Indian-Canadian boy. He grew up in a desi household in the small town of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada. While areas like Ontario or Vancouver are known to have large population of Indian families, Saskatchewan didn’t have too many Indian families. But, Tesher was lucky enough to be part of a niche community of Punjabis that let their desiness loose, which allowed him to be exposed to Indian culture and music. His interest in music started with being a young DJ during weddings, and other Indian functions.
He used to accompany his father, a videographer at these functions, and he spun his Bollywood tunes for the Indian uncles and aunties to let loose on the dance floor. “The Indian community in my city started to grow. People would have weddings and birthdays and other little events, but we didn’t have big banquet halls, so Indians would rent these community centre gyms. People began asking for video or music services, and the local Canadians would find it tough to take up such an event. My dad is extremely involved in the community, and he decided to do videography for all these events. That eventually branched out to people asking him if he provides any DJ services. His reply was, ‘No I don’t, but I have a 11-year-old son who really likes computers and music.’ That’s how I started DJing, and that was the start of it all,” he recalls.
Tesher used to keep himself updated with all the new Bollywood songs to play at the functions. But when he wasn’t DJing or looking for new Bollywood music, he spent his time listening to hip-hop. Somewhere, in the middle of it all, he decided to fuse the two together. Saying that he has an ear for this would be an understatement. Now, mashups aren’t a new thing in any way, but mashing up Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan with French Montana is unheard of, and complicated. But somehow, Tesher does his magic, and makes it work. His mashups include combos you’d never expect to see in one song. For example, AR Rahman + Travis Scott, Govinda + Drake, or Diljit Dosanjh + Big Sean. “To me, it’s just a fun process. Genres are such a thing of the past. Pushing the envelope and seeing how different things come together is amazing. One time, I mixed a metal track with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan vocals, and it ended up sounding phenomenal. You have got to try. That’s the key, just try. You might just hit something some time, and you might create something completely new in the process.”
Tesher’s most successful mashup and the one that put him on the map, is his fusion of Sukhwinder Singh’s Ramta Jogi and Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road. And he can thank TikTok for that. The song was originally released a year back, but exploded onto the realms of TikTok, and kept skyrocketing in popularity, with thousands of special TikToks on the song itself, making it a unique trend on the app. TikTok undoubtedly served as a megasuccessful launchpad for an artiste like Tesher. But after the app’s ban in India and its shaky future in America, focus shifted to Tesher’s YouTube and Spotify presence. Shortly after his mashup took off, the artist decided to drop an original composition titled Young Shahrukh. Once again, drawing from his Bollywood and hip-hop influences, the track flipped Bole Chudiyan, and placed it over trap drums, with rap verses filled with Shah Rukh Khan references. The song blew up, and all the noise it was making caught the attention of the big bosses at Sony Music India, who picked it up and gave it a big-label release. “We’re seeing this with a lot of artistes today. Their songs blow up on a platform like TikTok, and that gets the attention of a major label. Sony Music India saw it with Young Shahrukh and they reached out and said ‘Hey, this is something we would love to be part of, and we can help you take this song to the next level’,” Tesher says.
Currently, the 25-year-old artiste is working on a few more possible releases with Sony Music, along with his other original singles. From here on out, he plans to flood his music portfolio with more original content, and even has a huge surprise collaboration coming up. “I usually don’t take this long to drop new music, but then again, I’ve never really had such a big moment like this in my career yet. So I’m taking some time, stepping back and taking it all in, making sure I’m making the right moves,” he adds. Tesher went from being a young self-taught DJ who spins Bollywood tunes at functions, to creating mashups and original songs that bring in serious numbers. He single-handedly managed to give mashups a refreshing rebirth and push it to new levels, creatively speaking. In the process, he may have possibly created a genre of his own, even though he admittedly doesn’t believe in them.