Musician Justin Ashar is making harmonium and tabla famous in the western world
Some are born talented and unique. Their creativity and power tower over others around them. We were lucky to find one of them; Justin Ashar, a Canadian-born artist of Indian descent.
Justin Ashar is not the usual artist. He found a way to incorporate Indian instruments into the mainstream. As other DJs around the world mix top-100 pop tracks, Justin wanted to incorporate and fuse Indian culture with the rest of the world. More specifically, he experimented mixing the Indian harmonium with well-known songs and became quite popular because of it.
In 2016, Justin Ashar gained fame for covering mainstream pop hits on his harmonium, an Indian instrument he purchased in New Delhi on vacation. His most streamed video was a cover of Drake’s “Hotline Bling” in which Justin asked fans to send him video footage of themselves dancing to it so he could fuse together a compilation video. This project went viral and reached 1.1 million views. This is not a small number for a person who was not even popular on any other platform as a musician. You can find his musical projects on his YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/djashar
In 2017, BINA® Musical Stores, known worldwide for their harmoniums, sponsored Justin Ashar as a brand ambassador as they saw he had a talent for spreading Indian culture throughout the world. By 2018, Justin expanded the vision to include other artists by starting his record label, Pug Life Records® – https://www.pugliferecords.com. This label was unique in the sense it was more than just a record label; it was a way to connect South Asian artists globally to collaborate and have a platform to distribute their art.
Justin saw a lot of talent across the world, but he found many of the artists never had the means to be able to showcase their work. Justin’s concept was to create an artistic collective and community called the #BrownBrotherhood to prove that when artists work together, they can accomplish big things. He signed Shobhit Banwait, a legendary tabla player from Toronto, Canada, to his label shortly afterward.
As Pug Life Records® grew, Justin changed gears and became an executive producer overseeing all projects that get released through his label. In the summer of 2019, Justin’s label collaborated with Speed Records®, a powerhouse Punjabi record label, to release an official remix to the Doorbeen’s viral hit, “Lamberghini.” The production of the project spanned 3 countries as Justin organized the music video from the United States to be filmed in Canada and finally distributed in India through Speed Records® on their YouTube channel with a whopping 25-million subscribers. You can view this project here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1ZY8-jnh9k.
The idea of the #BrownBrotherhood started catching on, and more Indian artists started joining the label across the world. Most recently, Neil Sethi, also known as AIR APPARENT, an Indian producer based out of San Francisco, California, joined Pug Life Records® and released his EP entitled “Color Dreams” too much success. Within a few weeks, the album was streamed over 100K times on Spotify. Pug Life Records® then partnered with Kung Fu Tea®, a global bubble tea chain, to release AIR APPARENT’s official video for “Sorry.” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faE4N7jj6tU.
Justin Ashar is changing the world through art and culture with his label, Pug Life Records®. According to GIPHY, an online platform hosting GIFS, the label has surpassed 20-million views of their custom moving images which is a huge accomplishment in itself – https://giphy.com/pugliferecords. It’s an inspiration to see one person alter the world through spreading the ideas of unity and love while giving Indian instruments the spotlight to a global audience.