Jalebi: One of the most (if not the most) delicious Indian sweet snacks. Orange in colour and shaped like a coil, this iconic dessert has never been the same ever since we heard TESHER’s self-produced and self-composed piece, which seems very much like an ode to jalebis and the Indian culture. What makes this even more iconic, is the joining of one of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the moment – Jason Derulo. They presented the world with a remix to Jalebi Baby like no other, and a hot music video!
But I’m sure you’ve heard this song everywhere – on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube. This song is going insanely hard, and for good reason. It’s catchy and makes you want to stop and dance! It’s also a huge moment for the Indian, specifically the Punjabi community, to see their culture recognised and communicated authentically and non-stereotypically – huge kudos to TESHER on that! I got to chat with him, and got to hear so much that I am thrilled to share with you!
Well, when I first heard the song, I realised an uncanny similarity it shared with another existing Bollywood song from a 2007 film. To this, TESHER shared with me that this song’s journey had started all the way back in January 2020 (yes, BC – Before COVID-19).
He just wanted to have some fun after the long break over the holidays, to create something new by putting in everything he loved and enjoyed. So the original version of this song was actually a remix of Justin Bieber’s Yummy with that very Bollywood song I was getting flashbacks of, called Jalebi Bai! This version went crazy, and he said that his fans even “nagged” at him to make it an original song, which ultimately came out in November!
But how did Jason Derulo enter the picture? “He slid into my DM’s!” TESHER said! Jason got wind of the song and was in love with it, and wanted to create something else with this record. As TESHER put it, “he believed in it enough to get involved and attach his talent to it.”
Funnily yet reasonably, Jason’s first question to TESHER was, what a jalebi is. “Now he’s a pro; he cooks it. He’s so good,” TESHER shared with a look of pride on his face. But due to the virus-that-shall-not-be-named, Jason and TESHER weren’t even able to meet up to make the magic happen. Instead, they worked remotely and communicated via WhatsApp chats and Zoom calls. Only months after the remix dropped were they able to meet up. And when they did, they had so much fun, even filming a mini-performance in Jason’s backyard!
Another legendary moment you may remember from the music video, was that of Jason Derulo and TESHER dancing together when the beat dropped. That is a dance style native to the Punjabi community, called bhangra. It is a high-energy dance style and rather tricky to pull off. But Jason and TESHER didn’t just do it; they did it effortlessly and flawlessly! It was a jaw-dropping moment seeing the two worlds collide, and a part of the Punjabi culture being represented in such a remarkable way.
“When the idea came to do a music video, I really really wanted to make sure that South Asian culture was represented in a very authentic and good way, cuz so many times it’s just been so stereotypical and just garbage. And I knew I had an opportunity, a unique opportunity with this being my song. I could drive the boat here to make sure we do this right.” TESHER explained when I asked him what inspired the idea to incorporate bhangra. He knew that he wanted to showcase some Indian dancing.
TESHER himself has been a bhangra teacher and has been doing bhangra for a long time. So during rehearsals, he tempted Jason in a fun little ruse to do the dance with him in the music video. And when Jason said, “Yo.. he can really do those moves. I wanna do those moves too!” TESHER had succeeded and went, “Yes!”.
“It really came from a place of wanting to give people that moment so that they can see for the first time in history, that a mainstream American superstar is doing authentic, well-done bhangra with another South Asian artist.” Well, that moment was delivered and thoroughly enjoyed!
I’m sure TESHER has shown us all his all-roundedness with this single song – producing, composing, rapping, dancing. But for someone with so many talents, who would his musical influences be? So I asked him that, and he listed me at least ten names! Some of them include the Hollywood classics like Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and the Bollywood legends like A. R. Rahman and Sukhwinder Singh.
In terms of the styles he’s incorporated into his music, TESHER shared one particular example that stood out to me and had me shocked. He has always found bhangra music, especially that from the ‘90s, to be magical. Something about that era made everyone want to drop and dance, and he called them “dance floor anthems”. And one thing all those songs have in common is the sound of a glass bottle crashing and shattering. It’s a very distinct sound used at the most hype part of many Punjabi songs. In fact, TESHER used this sound in Jalebi Baby too! Can you find it?
Clearly, TESHER’s musical inspirations are diverse, ranging from Hollywood to Bollywood, which explains his multilingualism in his music – English, Punjabi, and even Hindi. I asked him why it was so important to him to have Punjabi lyrics in his music. To which he shared, “It’s just the way I talk”. He wanted to represent a part of his life that he’s grown up with, and speaking in Punjabi and English in the same sentence is totally him. So it only feels natural and organic to share his music in this way.
He shared that in Toronto, Canada, he often hears people mixing words from different languages in one sentence, and that it’s a complete melting pot of cultures and identities. This reminded me of Singapore, where we use Singlish – a combination of the different languages and dialects that live within us! We may live in different parts of the world, but we totally get it!
It was so meaningful getting to unpack and learn more about this viral song. There’s so much to it that we didn’t know, and I’m so glad we got to hear it from TESHER himself!
But what does the future hold? What can we expect from TESHER in the coming months? Are you already looking forward to his next release? Fret not, I gotchu with the answers!
“I don’t have any spoilers for you except that it’s gonna be more amazing, upbeat, energetic music! The goal is to be able to be somebody that makes music that exists in both worlds,” TESHER shared. He has so much he wants to try to keep his music fresh, unique, interesting, and most importantly, enjoyable.
But the ultimate spoiler I have for you is that TESHER revealed that he aims to release something before the year ends! “We’re not going into 2022 without some new TESHER.” We can’t wait for more bangers!
Jalebi Baby will forever be iconic for the unique collaboration of two worlds, for bringing us the Bollywood-Hollywood duo we never knew we needed, and for sharing more about the Indian community!
Do check out Jalebi Baby on all streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. Also, check out the music video and be sure to blast it on the highest volume your device can muster for the ultimate dance floor experience!
Man, I’m craving for some jalebis right now!
Visuals courtesy of Neha Sharma and Universal Music Singapore.