People around the world are discovering Shobhit Banwait thanks to his tabla versions of pop songs.
The Brampton native plays the tabla — Indian hand drums — along to pop songs by the likes of Justin Bieber. He uploads his tabla-fied versions to Instagram, where he has developed a following. His recent version of Calvin Harris's How Deep Is Your Love received around two million views.
He said he fell in love with the tabla through his father's playing it and their trips to India, where the instrument remains popular both in Indian classical music and beyond.
He first heard the tabla in pop music in Missy Elliott's 2001 hit, Get Ur Freak On.
"I heard the tabla here and there in the Western world, but it wasn't till about three years ago where I would sit in the car and listen to the radio and put an Indian beat to any song," he said. He then jammed to the music at home with his drums. He started to record 15-second covers for Instagram in late 2012.
"It clicked with me, and my Instagram started getting more popular."
He remembers doing Lil Jon's Turn Down For What as a first pop cover. But he began really getting traction with the Calvin Harris cover.
"I really loved the Calvin Harris song and it went well with the tabla," he said. "The tabla really gives it that flavour."
The Harris song, Banwait explained, is like an upbeat Indian style, qawwali.
The tabla is made up of two drums, and depending on where you hit it, creates a number of sounds. It's an instrument that can be tuned in a number of different ways.
"When I record videos, I record to the tone of the song," he said. "That's what really blends it into the song."
Banwait said his ultimate ambition would be to work with some of his favourite musicians.
"I would love to do a tour with one of these DJs for sure," he said.
Diplo, he said, just toured India, where he thinks the tabla would really resonate.
"I was just imagining if I did a tour there," he said.
And when you're popular on social media, nothing is impossible.
Indeed, Banwait's father, his original inspiration, even created a Facebook page just to check in on his son's tabla success.