Canadian rapper and producer Tesher is not your usual artist. First off, his Indian heritage plays a massive role in his art. Specifically, his Bollywood influences  and plenty of Punjabi and Hindi mixed with English in his songs. Now after more than a decade of making clever, playful mashups of Bollywood and Top 40 songs on YouTube, he’s kicked off his transition into original music with a viral hit, and some major co-signs to be revealed. 

Which brings us to ‘Jalebi Baby’ a delirious bilingual record that riffs on the classic Indian dessert jalebi. Its salsa-inflected piano, reggaeton beat, and Tesher’s smooth sing-rap that evokes Purpose-era Bieber, it’s spread all over the world. 

“Spanish KFC’s Twitter account tweeted a Jalebi Baby meme!” Tesher exclaims. “Me, in my bedroom making this, could never have imagined all of this happening.”

Tesher recently signed a new worldwide deal with Capitol Records in partnership with Universal Music India. This agreement will see Tesher’s music released through a unique partnership between Capitol Records in the U.S. and Universal Music India, who will focus on building his rapidly expanding popularity across India, South Asia and throughout its vast diaspora, whilst finding new fans around the world.

Most recently he performed the track on the TODAY’s show.

Here’s what Tesher himself had to say about all of this and more!

What is the favorite song you wrote and why? 

Young Shahrukh for sure. It’s my favorite because nobody else but me could’ve written it – it’s uniquely about me and my own life experiences! When the song blew up, it was wild seeing people from different parts of the world singing lyrics about rolling through The Annex and King Street in Toronto, or thanking Tim Cook for taking the headphone jack out of iPhones so I could plug my phone into a sound system. 

Who are your all time musical icons?

There’s so many, I feel like I change my answer every time I get asked this question. Let’s go with AR Rahman, Lil Wayne, Drake, and Michael Jackson.

How do you keep your inspiration sharp?

I always try to switch things up some way or another, whether it’s combining instruments from different cultures or writing a song from a unique perspective. For example, Jalebi Baby is a pretty sexually explicit song but not everyone catches that right away because it’s filled with food metaphors. It’s stuff like that that keeps the music making process fun and engaging for me.

Who are you binge listening to these days?

To be honest, myself. I’ve been listening to my own unreleased music a lot to help me decide which ones I want to release. Other than that, there’s been a lot of Pop Smoke and Bossa Nova music.

Favorite movie or TV show?

Favorite movie is The Godfather. I’ve seen it so many times, it’s honestly perfect in every way. I don’t think I have a favourite TV show but I really enjoyed The Queen’s Gambit and I’m liking the Marvel TV shows on Disney+.

Tell us about your latest release and how it came about

The original Jalebi Baby was absolutely blowing up all over the world. It was the most shazamed song in like 30 countries and it was all over TikTok and Instagram Reels. At that point I knew the next step for the song was for it to break into the mainstream, and Jason Derulo was actually the first person I thought of to help do that by way of a remix. Lucky for me, he loved that song and decided he wanted to get on it!. We worked on the song virtually for a couple weeks, and the end result turned out amazing.

You mastered the internet in the early days when youTube was brand new. What is your view on social media nowadays?

Social media is great. It’s the great equalizer. It levels the playing field between huge major label artists and amateurs in their bedroom – anybody can use social media to gain recognition for their talent. The key is to use it effectively and not get too sucked into it, which I’ll admit is easier said than done. Watch your screen time folks.

What’s the future looking like for you?

It’s looking brighter than ever. I’m so blessed to have the opportunity to share my music with an audience that is eager to hear it, and I plan to continue making really dope and unique stuff. More music, collaborations, and maybe even movies as I move forward.

Who inspires your style and aesthetics?

My 3 biggest style icons are my father, Shahrukh Khan, and Seto Kaiba. They’re all very different, but all very dope.

What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?

Getting Jason Derulo on Jalebi Baby is something I’ll always be very proud of. You don’t usually see songs that are so deeply rooted in South Asian culture become this successful internationally, and having Jason Derulo on the song just helps bring the song to an even bigger audience. I’ve always wanted to see South Asian culture represented in the mainstream in an authentic and positive way, and the fact that I was able to make it happen is something I’m very thankful for.

What do you think is the best way to make it as an artist nowadays?

There really is no best way or right way, but having a solid understanding of the internet and what’s current on social media will only help. There’s an overabundance of music out there, and if you want to shine through you need talent as well as some semblance of a marketing plan.

What would you change in the music and entertainment industry especially after this past year?

I would probably change some of the copyright policies on the internet. A part of the reason TikTok has been so successful is that it allowed people to make videos using songs they love or sound bytes from movies and TV shows. Uploading that sort of content on other social media networks would usually result in copyright strikes and content removals. The industry chases viral moments, but they fail to realize that they are preventing their content from going viral when they punish fans for interacting with content that they love.