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Dubai-based singer on recording viral 'Jalebi Baby' hit

Husain Rizvi/Dubai
Filed on August 2, 2021
Photo/Supplied

Dubai’s Shweta Subram talks about recording the hook to a viral hit and why she would love to work with an Arab singer.

Countless Tiktok trends and a whole pandemic later, we are sure everyone must have heard Jalebi Baby. The viral song released by Tesher, a Canadian-Indian rapper, was an instant hit on social media platforms such as Tiktok and Instagram (reels), especially its verse: “Baby let me see it, Jalebi Baby.”

The song’s success even landed Tesher a remixed version with international singer Jason Derulo. The music video starring Tesher and Derulo has garnered over 36 million views on YouTube. And if you’re wondering which female singer is behind that catchy hook ‘Jalebi baby’, the answer is someone who was born and raised in Dubai.

Shweta Subram moved to Canada with her family during her teen years and returned to Dubai last year as the pandemic struck. She wanted to be closer to Bollywood, and it is safe to say that is something she achieved through Jalebi Baby.

Subram tells us how she became a part of Jalebi Baby and what drives her interest in Bollywood music.

Tell us about your journey. Where did it all begin?

I have had a fascinating journey. It started with my performance at the IIFA Awards in Toronto with Salim-Sulaiman. I was excited to be performing in front of the Bollywood film fraternity. After this, I released my originals Jee Le Live Life and Ajooba, and started touring for concerts. Eventually, I landed up singing for the Bollywood movie Hawaizaada with Ayushmann Khurrana and have collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry such as The Piano Guys.

You’ve spent a lot of time in Canada. How is it that your interest turned out to be in Bollywood music/songs?

My family moved to Canada when I was a teenager. I was actually born and raised in Dubai and my family is strongly connected to our Indian roots. And when you live abroad, I find that families cling to their Indian culture and traditions even more.

At home, I was surrounded by bhajans as well as Bollywood. In school, I took part in cultural events and represented Indian music. I just enjoyed singing and Bollywood songs came naturally to me. That’s about it!

You moved to Dubai last year just before the pandemic. How did Jalebi Baby happen?

The timing of moving here was unfortunate! I came back to Dubai as I love this city and also wanted to be closer to Bollywood. However, some good things happened and one of them was my work in Jalebi Baby. This happened remotely as the producer, Tesher, is based in Canada but he wanted to work with me.

He asked if I would be willing to sing background vocals, to which I agreed. Normally I don’t do background work, but I really like Tesher’s music and wanted to support him. I was surprised however when my voice was released as the lead vocal for Jalebi Baby.

You were born in Dubai. Did the city help shape your interest in Bollywood music? If yes, how?

Definitely. Dubai loves Bollywood and Bollywood loves Dubai. Growing up here, I was involved in all the cultural activities associated with my school, The Indian High School.

I also enjoyed going for Hindi movies. I attended concerts performed by Bollywood stars (I fondly remember watching Sonu Nigam live and Colonial Cousins in concert). My music training also started in Dubai, which helped shape my vocal capabilities for Hindustani and Carnatic music.

You’ve earned the nickname ‘Jalebi Baby’. What are your thoughts on that?

You can call me Jalebi Baby! It’s an honour to have my voice heard all over the world through this song!

How was it like working with an international star such as Jason Derulo?

It was surreal to have my voice on the same track as Jason Derulo. I am a big fan of his music, and also his dancing. So, singing Jalebi Baby for him had me over the moon!

What’s next for you? More remixes or any original work that you have planned?

I would love to do more work in Bollywood. Until then, I have original songs which will be released and I will continue to collaborate with other amazing artists!

What kind of a singer would you classify yourself as? Can we expect a remix of an Arabic song? Or a song in any other language?

I classify myself as a highly versatile singer. For my shows, I sing all genres of music from romantic numbers and Sufi songs to popular dance and peppy numbers. Beyond being a singer, I love performing and make sure that my fans always have a great time at my concerts. I have been fortunate to have performed in over 12 countries around the world!

I have always been fascinated with the Arabic language and would love to either sing in Arabic or work with an Arabic singer. Arabic music has a lot of richness to it. With regards to other languages, I have sung in Punjabi, Sindhi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, and Tamil. I am awesome with Bollywood Punjabi songs!

RAPID FIRE WITH SHWETA

Which Bollywood song remix will you make next?

Do Dil Mil Rahe Hain (Pardes)

Dream actor to work with?

Ranveer Singh

If it wasn’t singing, what else would you be doing?

I would’ve been a doctor!

Dubai’s scorching heat or Canada’s extreme cold?

Dubai’s scorching heat!

Favourite English and Bollywood song and singer of all time?

My Heart will Go On by Celine Dion

Abhi Mujhme Kahin by Sonu Nigam