Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sound the Cavalry Charge - An Interview with Nature Ganganbaigal

The recently released "Mongol Metal" album is a compilation of material from three different folk metal artists hailing from Inner Mongolia, China, a compendium designed to introduce this new and radically unique take on the genre to Western audiences.  To that end, the record provides strong mental imagery of majestic, wide-open landscapes, towering mountains with azure blue skies and legions of powerful nomadic horsemen charging across the Steppe to expand their horizons.  We had the good fortune to sit down with Nature Ganganbaigal, frontman for Tengger Cavalry and ideaman behind the entire "Mongol Metal" experience.

D.M: What made the ‘Mongol Metal’ project something you felt so passionate about?

Nature Ganganbaigal: I am always fascinated by the amazing sound of European folk metal and I keep thinking, why not make something that has our own sound in it? And I am friend with the other two Mongolian folk metal bands, so I want their music to get out there and let people know them, knowing that Asian folk metal is here now!

D.M: Why these three bands?  What makes Ego Fall, Tengger Cavalry and Nine Treasures the three bands that you wanted to represent Mongolian metal?

NG: They all incorporate traditional Mongolian folk music into heavy metal, in their own way. Morin Khuur, throat singing, and Yatga, all traditional elements could be found in each song

D.M: The songs on ‘Mongol Metal’ are taken from all different albums across your and their careers – what made you decide to use a collection of material, rather than just new material?

NG: ‘Cause these three bands have been in scene for many years yet few Western audience know them. I think they deserve to be known for their uniqueness, so a compilation is a good start to give people an idea what this new genre is all about.

D.M: ‘Mongol Metal’ was released on your own, without the backing of a record label.  What made you decide to release this material on your own?

NG: It is easy to promote, manage and negotiate with the bands. I am friend with the bands and they trust me, that’s the most important thing.

D.M: What’s the goal for ‘Mongol Metal’?  Did you hope to bring this music to a wider audience, or something more?

NG: We hope to let people recognize this new genre and maybe get more attention for its very unique sound. So far people are really blow away by the new idea and they enjoy it.

D.M: How big is the metal scene in Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and China?  Are there huge crowds?  Is it an underground scene?

NG: In China it is pretty big, but not in Mongolia. It is still more underground I would say, but look at the band list that have come to China before, Metallica, Testament, Kreator, Arch Enemy, CoB, Dream Theatre, etc.

D.M: Inner Mongolia has a certain amount of autonomy from China, but do you ever come up against government censorship?  If so, how do you get around that to release your music?

NG: We don’t want to get involved with politics. We just do own our thing and enjoy our own music. We only release this compilation for Western audience. The bands already released their album in China separately.

D.M: Speaking specifically of Tengger Cavalry, much of your music focuses on the legendary Mongol horsemen – what makes that a subject that moves you so deeply?

NG: I worship the Mongol horsemen spirit, bravery, nature, and wildness. Part of my heritage and I just connect to it.

D.M: As somebody on the outside listening in, throat singing sounds remarkably difficult – what’s the secret, and how long did it take you to learn?

NG: It is a really difficult singing method. Very hard to teach too, more feeling. You press your chest and generate an overtone sound in your mouth. So you basically generate a drone in throat and another in mouth.

D.M: When you first introduced to Mongolian musicians and were learning the craft, where did you come up with the idea to pair those themes with metal?

NG: It just sounds epic! Mongolian spirit is very epic, all about horses, warriors, wolves and expeditions. Metal is the perfect genre for it.

D.M: What metal musicians inspired that side of your music?

NG: Many European folk metal bands, such as Eluveitie, Turisas, Korpiklaani, etc. Love how natural it is for them to blend their folk tradition into metal

D.M: You also have an accomplished career composing world music, as well as writing for TV, film and video games.  How does your creative process change with each of those, and how are they different than writing for Tengger Cavalry?

NG: I just finished my Masters degree in film music composition and to me it is rather similar. They are all musical language to me and I can speak differently when I feel like it. I like to blend them together sometimes.

D.M: Will we see these three bands, either together or separately, tour the US in the near future?

NG: Can’t say much about it. We will see.

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