Issue 47 / Canadian Musician Hits All The Right Beats With His Tabla

Canadian Musician Hits All The Right Beats With His Tabla

Apr 29, 2016

Shobhit Banwait is using the tabla to create a unique spin on popular radio songs.

The 25-year-old didn't set out to put a Desi flavour on Western tracks, it just happened along the way. "I would listen to the radio [in the car] and put an Indian beat to top 40 songs,” he explains. In late 2012, he began posting his 15-second tabla covers on Instagram.

Since then Banwait has accompanied dozens of hits songs — from Justin Bieber’s "Sorry" to Adele’s "Hello" and even Drake’s "Hotline Bling" — with his tabla. Bollywood and Punjabi tracks can also be found among his uploads. His catchy versions of these songs has caught the ear of many here in Toronto and right across the globe. Some even admitting the original versions sound “boring” without his beats.

His process when deciding which songs to add his drums to is fairly simple. First, he says he goes through the song in his head with a beat he thinks would be suitable. "Sometimes it naturally just clicks in my head and I know it's going to fuse well." On occasion, he says, he can record his videos in just one take.

Banwait playing at a spiritual conference in Calgary.
Photo Credit: Romy Banwait


Banwait says it’s tough to pick a favourite out of all the songs he’s covered. That being said, he does admit he enjoys working on tracks by world-renowned DJ Calvin Harris and one of hip hop’s finest Fetty Wap. "I really put my heart into playing [their songs] and the world saw it."

In fact, one of his more recent uploads to Facebook, a tabla rendition of Harris' "How Deep is Your Love," just exploded on social media, receiving more than two million views within the first couple days. Banwait says even though he was overwhelmed with all the attention his take on the track received, he didn’t let it get to his head. He stayed humble. “I’m inspired to make even better music now and to think outside the box.”

But, he says, “it’s not only about the music itself.” His passion for the tabla is reaching people in ways he didn’t think were possible. He heard a story from a mother about her son who suffers from a condition that leaves his hands and arms weak. However, Banwait's music motivated him to take tabla lessons and now those parts of his body are more steady. Others have told him they suffer from insomnia and his music helps them fall asleep at night. One girl even revealing to him her family doesn’t support her playing tabla, but thanks to him she decided to get back into it anyway.

Banwait playing the Dhol at a wedding in July 2015.
Photo Credit: Ashish Alang

Of course the young drummer boy didn’t have that problem growing up in a musical family. His love for the tabla began early on. "You can say music was in my blood naturally." His father was in a band in the early '80s (before Banwait was born).  And after he was born, his father took up the Dholak — a single drum played mostly in Indian folk. As a child, he fondly remembers watching him play each week at the spiritual centre they attended.

The young artist started off playing by ear, before any formal training. At 13, he found a teacher, who taught him the basics of the instrument and trained him in the more than 200-year-old Banaras style. Banwait also took yearly trips to India, where he would immerse himself in different musical styles. He says that further educated his “music sense.” Listening to tabla players like Zakhir Hussain and Tari Khan also guided him along his journey.

With his growing fan base and the connections he’s made along the way, Banwait doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon. He aspires to collaborate with some of the big mainstream deejays — like his favourite Harris of course, or even Major Lazer. But in case that doesn’t work out he will continue doing what he’s doing, keeping an ear out for songs on the radio he can spin into tabla-rrific gold.

You can check out his music on:

Instagram: shoby14
SoundCloud: Shobhit Banwait Music
FaceBook: Shobhit Banwait Music

Main Image Photo Credit: Ashish Alang

Neetu Seupersadsingh


Neetu Seupersadsingh has loved writing for as long as she can remember. That's why Carleton University’s journalism program  was her clear choice for post-secondary studies. In Ottawa, she was able to further develop her skill in arts, entertainment and lifestyle reporting. So...


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