Brampton drummer’s music creates waves on the Internet

Saturday, March 5th, 2016

Shobhit Banwait’s cover of pop music songs in which he includes the beats of tabla (Indian drum) has garnered millions of views. Whenever Shobhit Banwait’s fingers come in contact with a solid surface – the desk, steering wheel or the dining table – he unconsciously starts to tap classical Indian beats to complement the melodies playing in his head or blasting on the car’s speakers.

In school, this habit often landed him in trouble with the teachers, but today the Bramptonian is riding the wave of popularity because of his love for drumming.

Banwait, an adept tabla (East Indian drum) player has become an Internet sensation with his cover of the smash hit How Deep is Your Love by Calvin Harris and Disciples, which has been listened to some 2.5 million times and shared 35,000 times on Facebook.

“I learned to love the tabla from listening to it as a child,” Banwait told The Guardian. “I always put an Indian beat in my head whenever I listen to western music.”

Three years ago, the Brampton resident began producing 15-second clips, mixing tabla with vocals to create a fusion of east and west. The sounds were a hit on Instagram, and slowly his flock of followers grew.

Then, someone created a hilarious meme of his cover with accompanying text saying, ‘My mom’s trying to take the ‘hood out of me by sending me to the Mandir (temple), but I am playing tabla to a gangster song.’

The meme generated chuckles and 500,000 views. That small taste of success prompted Banwait to test the waters with full-version covers that are now the talk of the Internet.

“Growing up, our family visited India every year and I heard and saw the tabla and dholak (a double skinned drum used by folk musicians) and found the sounds very beautiful,” he said. “In tabla, one can hit both the high and low notes and that combination is what makes it so different.”

Banwait, an IT professional by day, began learning the tabla and the fundamentals of Indian classical music at 13 from a congregation member at the spiritual centre he and his family frequented.

The Bramptonian says the deep and resonant sounds of table – which is played sitting on the floor using fingers – can lend itself to every genre of music, whether it’s pop, hip hop or Bollywood.

His cover of songs, whether it’s Lil Jon’s Turn Down For What or Justin Beiber’s Sorry are all recorded in his bedroom using his phone, a pair of speakers and the tabla. Yet the acoustics and sounds appear as though it has been created and mixed using expensive sound production equipment.

Despite the buzz, Banwait remains down-to-earth and said he knows fame is fleeting. His dream is to play the tabla and tour with a national or international deejay.

His parents said they support their son’s ambition and nothing would make them happier than seeing him make a mark as a musician.

“As a child, Shobhit was so good at the tabla that when his teacher would often introduce songs during the classes and ask the students to play tabla to the melodies, nobody could do it as well as Shobhit,” said Devinder. “He played the tabla with his heart. His tempo and passion were impressive and he never shied away from practice. He practiced for hours.”

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