ZIGOR ALDAMA: The Hu: Mongolian folk rockers ready to conquer the world with throat singing and traditional instruments

The Hu: Mongolian folk rockers ready to conquer the world with throat singing and traditional instruments

  • Like many metalheads, the band grew up listening to Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Metallica and AC/DC
  • Unlike their peers, their traditional roots give them a uniquely powerful sound that is impossible to resist


Members of The Hu (from left) Batkhuu, Gala, Temka, Odko, Jaya, Ono, Enkhush and Jambaa at their studio. Photo: Zigor AldamaMembers of The Hu (from left) Batkhuu, Gala, Temka, Odko, Jaya, Ono, Enkhush and Jambaa at their studio. Photo: Zigor Aldama
Members of The Hu (from left) Batkhuu, Gala, Temka, Odko, Jaya, Ono, Enkhush and Jambaa at their studio. Photo: Zigor Aldama

It’s noon and Jaya is waiting for friends at one of the many fancy coffee shops springing up in Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital. Temka is playing video games at home; Gala is munching on popcorn while watching an old film, dressed in his pyjamas. Enkhush hasn’t even woken up yet; when he does, he grumpily knocks his horse-shaped alarm clock to the floor.

Mongolian millennials are much the same as those anywhere else, it seems.

Then, though, Gala puts down his popcorn, goes to his front door and opens it. There before him is the expansive wilderness of the steppe. He shares the view with his friends through his smartphone and all four are transported to the mountains and lakes of the western part of Genghis Khan’s country.

This is how the music video to Yuve Yuve Yu (“How strange, how strange”) starts.

Clad in leather and wielding instruments such as the morin khuur and tovshuur, The Hu, the band behind the song, unleash a sound as powerful as their backdrop is stunning. The urbanites transform into throat singers and the confined spaces of the city melt into infinite landscapes the vastness of which can only be captured by drones.

The clip has been viewed more than 16.5 million times on YouTube. Their second single, Wolf Totem, which brings riders of both horses and Harley-Davidsons together against an even more evocative backdrop, is not far behind, with more than 11 million views. Mongolian folk metal – or hunnu rock – is apparently what rockers across the globe have been waiting for.

“We get four to five million views a month,” says the band’s manager, Tuga Namgur, during a video call from Chicago, in the United States, where he is based. “The biggest agents and the business are in the US, where we get around 1.5 million of those monthly views.”

Jaya sings as Enkhush (centre) and Gala play morin khuurs, at their studio in Ulan Bator. Photo: Zigor Aldama
Jaya sings as Enkhush (centre) and Gala play morin khuurs, at their studio in Ulan Bator. Photo: Zigor Aldama

The band has signed with US-based Eleven Seven Music, one of the world’s lead­ing independent rock labels, and even though they haven’t yet released an album – The Gereg is due this summer – The Hu have managed to climb to the top of Billboard’s Hard Rock Digital Song Sales chart.

“They have an excellent and unique tribal-metal sound,” says fan Diana Ashby, on the band’s Facebook page, which has amassed more than 100,000 followers. “Their music is so energizing – and different! In a good way,” adds Linda Shrieves. “Wolf Totem is my track through my cancer journey,” posts Veronica Fairhurst. “They’re going to be huge! Just wait and see,” forecasts James Sobczak.

“We kind of expected this reaction, because we thought our music would fit better with foreign audiences,” says a nonchalant Nyamjantsan Galsanjamts, better known as Jaya, when we meet at the band’s Ulan Bator rehearsal studio. “We were born with global ambition,” adds the 35-year-old jaw harp player.

“We were confident in word of mouth and it has worked a miracle,” says 28-year-old Enkhsaikhan Batjargal, aka Enkhush, player of the lead morin khuur, a bowed string instrument crowned by an evil-looking red goat head. “Our success has been organic. There has been no promoting or using management tools to increase visits. People are just telling friends they have to hear our songs.”

The studio is on the first floor of a massive grey building, redolent of Mongolia’s communist past, in an old, residential, east-central part of the capital, where the streets are narrow and shabby. They may look “badass”, with their tattoos and skull rings, but the band are hard at work by 9am. And there is no trace of any hangovers.

“They are professionals who have been in the music industry for more than 10 years. Some studied together in the Mongolian State Music and Dance Conservatory [in Ulan Bator] and have master’s degrees,” says Namgur, via Skype, while we wait for the members of the band to settle in the studio’s editing suite.

Coffee is brewing and everybody gets a generous cup of Americano before taking their seat.

Although he doesn’t sing or play, the soul of The Hu is 52-year-old songwriter and producer B. Dashdondog, aka Dashka. Having worked in the music industry for more than three decades, with almost every pop and rock band in Mongolia, his ears grew tired, he says, and seven years ago, “I started to do some research about Mongolian traditional instruments and poetry. I wanted to come up with some­thing never heard of before.”

Ono at the drums. Photo: Zigor Aldama
Ono at the drums. Photo: Zigor Aldama

Dashka travelled to his father’s lands, in the remote western Khovd province.

“It’s the motherland of Mongolia’s throat singing, which I find unique and powerful,” says the producer, sinking into a comfortable-looking couch. “During a visit, I thought it would be interesting to mix different sounds, both ancient and modern.”

That was easier said than done. “Many people can play an electric guitar, but only a few can play Mongolian instru­ments,” says Dashka.

He started to look for the right people to form a band in 2016. Galbadrakh Tsendbaatar, aka Gala, was the first to come on board and the rest soon followed; the music scene in Ulan Bator is small and all of them had already worked with each other.

“We may be trained in traditional instru­ments, but our references are bands like Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Metallica or AC/DC. This is the music we listened to while growing up,” says Gala, 29. The rest nod – a gentle headbang – in agreement.

“And Mongolian traditional music is not like classical Western music,” adds Jaya. “The tunes have rock in them, but nobody before tried to bring it out into the open.”

Gala in a still from the video of The Hu’s debut single, Yuve Yuve Yu.
Gala in a still from the video of The Hu’s debut single, Yuve Yuve Yu.

What makes their music different, Gala says, is that “it’s based on Mongolian traditional tunes, mixed with rock beats, and that we play it using ancient instruments”.

They call it hunnu rock in reference to the name of the ancient Mongolian empire and the band’s moniker was chosen “because hu is the root word for human being. The intellectual being. And if you write huu, it means ‘son’ or ‘daughter’ [in Mongolian]. It’s also easy to pronounce and remember, because Mongolian words can be hard to read”, laughs Jaya. “Everybody in the world can say The Hu.” (We wonder whether Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend and John Entwistle came to the same conclusion when they were getting their band together, in 1964).

“We are privileged because many companies found the music beautiful and showed interest in us. Not many bands can choose their label even before they come up with an album,” says Namgur.

But success at home initially proved elusive.

“In the beginning, people in Mongolia weren’t that much into us,” says Jaya. “They thought we were just one of those traditional Mongolian bands.

“It was something completely new for foreign audi­ences, so we made it onto the iTunes and Billboard charts. After we got the attention of the West, Mongolians started to feel curious about us. They said, ‘Hey, these guys are good!’” recalls Jaya, who was awarded the best musician of the year gong at the Silver Tree Mongolian music awards in January.

The Hu’s videos show off Mongolia’s stunning landscapes. ‘We want to make people proud of nature,’ says Temka. Photo: Youtube / The Hu
The Hu’s videos show off Mongolia’s stunning landscapes. ‘We want to make people proud of nature,’ says Temka. Photo: Youtube / The Hu

Ahead of their debut solo concert, in Ulan Bator last month, the band were invited to meet Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga, who admired Gala’s horse-head fiddle. And, in March, they met Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Nak-yeon, at a private event held during the latter’s visit to Mongolia.

The sold-out Ulan Bator concert was the perfect warm-up for The Hu’s European tour, which kicks off on June 6 in Berlin, Germany. As the crowds chanted “Hu! Hu! Hu!” while pumping their fists in the air, it was as if Genghis himself were rallying them for war.

However, the band’s message is one of peace, and lyrics resonate with the socially conscious youth. The Harley-Davidsons may contribute to a mixed message, but The Hu want to raise awareness about the need to preserve the environment.

“We shot the videos in some of the most beautiful landscapes of Mongolia because we wanted to show how awesome our mountains and lakes are,” says 28-year-old Naranbaatar Temuulen, aka Temka, who plays the tovshuur, a two-stringed lute. “We want to make people proud of nature.

“Our ancestors left us a beautiful place to live in, but the world is going downhill with global warming and pollution. We sing to unite people with the goal to preserve the world as it is, so it can also be enjoyed by future generations.”

We’ve never considered singing in English, because it would betray the spirit of the music. This genre has to be sung in Mongolian Gala, The Hu

This month and next, The Hu will spread their message of conservation as they invade Europe, where the band are booked for 23 shows in 13 countries.

“Nine of them are major rock festivals [including Download, in Donington Park, England],” says Namgur, with pride. And the US awaits in October.

Being on the international stage won’t change them, they promise. “Conveying our message is important, but we’ve never considered singing in English, because it would betray the spirit of the music. This genre has to be sung in Mongolian,” says Gala. “We’ve found our sound now and won’t change it. Our goal is to perfect it, polish it and make it more sophisticated.”

But how will they spread their message across the world if nobody understands the language it is sung in?

“We add subtitles,” says Gala, with a smile.

And thus, on YouTube, the viewer discovers that the lyrics to Yuve Yuve Yu are:

It has been so long eating and drinking, being merry/

taking our Great Mongol ancestors names’ in vain.

Yet, would not honour our oath and destiny.

Why the valuable ethics of ancestors became worthless?/

Why is it difficult to raise our nation up?

Why is it so hard to cherish the ancestors inherited land?/

How strange! How strange!

Hey, you, traitor, kneel down!

From left: Jaya, Gala, Temka and Enkhush.
From left: Jaya, Gala, Temka and Enkhush.

We are treated to a rehearsal in a soundproof room at the studio. It’s brutal.

The band form a circle and we are placed in the centre. Throats are cleared with a guttural sound only a few can muster, the strings of the morin khuurfine-tuned, the cymbals teased and the strings of the electric guitar scratched with a plectrum, before Jaya checks everybody with a look and nods in approval.

A few seconds of silence, then drummer Odko counts in what can only be described as an explosion.

The Hu’s music takes audiences to a universe all of its own. The tunes and singing are clearly Mongolian but the guitar and overall vibe are heavy metal.

Experienced live, the music is infinitely more powerful than anything that can be conveyed in a video. And their confident smirks show that The Hu know it.


THALEA STOKES : Whose Throat-Singing? UNESCO Awarding Khoomei as a Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage


Whose Throat-Singing? UNESCO Awarding Khoomei as a Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage

Thalea Stokes
Thalea Stokes

Whose Throat-Singing? UNESCO Awarding Khoomei as a Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritage

Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
nations must go through an even lengthier, more costly, and more scrupulous application process to inscribe cultural artifacts. While it is admirable that UNESCO recognized a problem and took steps to solve it as it relates to cultural appropriation, the damage had already been done in a certain sense. The
 dispute, unwittingly instigated by UNESCO, exacerbated age-old ÒChina as imperialistÓ sentiments among the Mongolian citizenry that have long held this mistrust, even despite the Mongolia-China normalization process. The question remains as to whether UNESCO awards cultural artifacts to nations based on origination, or who is best able to preserve said artifacts, the latter certainly being the preferred viewpoint of Chinese ofÞcials. Is it truly possible for an international organization to impartially award legitimacy of claim when it comes to cultural artifacts? What does it say when an NGO such as UNESCO, by nature of their actions, seems to play into narratives of predatory and neo-imperialist behavior? The fact that UNESCO has successfully researched, promoted, educated, and preserved many cultural artifacts in danger of being lost should not be understated. However, this controversy of the
 dispute points to a larger problem of Western-based institutions dictating the terms of cultural ownership to the world without sufÞcient input from and agency of those actors who directly experience the culture in question.
When UNESCO awarded China the inscription of
 as a Chinese intangible cultural artifact, it caused a minor disruption in peaceful ongoing negotiations between the two states but a major disruption among the people affected by the decision. The awarding was essentially seen as an affront to Mongolian identity, just another example of Chinese appropriation of Mongolian culture. ChinaÕs motivations for laying claim to Mongolian, and other minority cultural artifacts, lie in its aim to present a wholly uniÞed China to the world. It also increases the prestige of Chinese history, and gives the nation opportunity to further ÒmanageÓ its minority ethnic groups. Mongolia, a nation lacking the capital and inßuence of its southern
Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
neighbor, has great incentive to promote and preserve its cultural artifacts in order to be considered a major player on the world stage. When these cultural artifacts are presented to the world through the auspices of these nation-states, however, the voices of the people often become overshadowed by national and global interests. The preservation of these cultural artifacts might be better served through heavier mediation by and attention given to the lived experiences of the people involved rather than claims made by states. That is, these cultural artifacts, rather than existing as museum pieces that serve as indicators of entire nations, should be rejoined with the people who largely created and actively maintain them, and presented as inseparable elements of a larger, more informed, and more accurate cultural whole.
Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
Bader, Julia.
ChinaÕs Foreign Relations and the Survival of Autocracies 
. New York: Routledge, 2015.BillŽ, Franck, GrŽgory Delaplace and Caroline Humphrey.
Frontier Encounters: Knowledge and Practice at the Russian, Chinese and Mongolian Border 
. Cambridge: Open Book Publishers CIC Ltd., 2012.ÒChina, Khoomii Not Yours DonÕt Register in UNESCO.Ó Published January 18, 2010. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/khoomii/.Davis, Thalea C. ÒAcross the Red Steppe: Exploring Mongolian Music in China and Exporting it From Within.Ó MA thesis, Western Michigan University, 2013.DÕEvelyn, Charlotte. ÒThe Power of Recognition: UNESCO and the 2009 Throat Singing Controversy in Inner Mongolia, China.Ó Lecture, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA, March 5, 2014.Gardner, Lisa. ÒMongolia and China Mark Ancient Cultural Ties.Ó
Al Jazeera 
, August 31, 2014. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/08/mongolia-china-mark-ancient-cultural-ties-201483085921999916.html.Higgins, Andrew. ÒA Showdown Over Traditional Throat Singing Divides China and Mongolia.Ó
The Washington Post 
, August 10, 2011. Accessed March 15, 2015. http:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia-paciÞc/a-showdown-over-traditional-throat-singing-divides-china-and-mongolia/2011/06/24/gIQASaZS7I_story.html.Kotkin, Stephen and Bruce A. Elleman, ed.
Mongolia in the Twentieth Century: Landlocked Cosmopolitan 
. New York: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 1999.Levin, Theodore and Valentina SŸzŸkei.
Where the Rivers and Mountains Sing: Sound, Music, and Nomadism in Tuva and Beyond 
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2011.Pegg, Carole. ÒNomads, States and Musical Landscapes: Some Dilemmas of Khššmii as Intangible Cultural Heritage.Ó Paper presented at the Musical Geographies of Central Asia Conference and Concert, London, England, May 16, 2012. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.akdn.org/musical_geographies/carole_pegg.asp.Schwarz, Henry G. ed.
Mongolian Culture and Society in the Age of Globalization: Proceedings of an International Research Conference, Western Washington University, August 5-6, 2005 
. Bellingham, Washington: Center for East Asian Studies Western Washington University, 2006.
, 1993.Soni, Sharad K.
Mongolia-China Relations: Modern and Contemporary Times.
New Delhi, India: Pentagon Press, 2006.
Thalea StokesApril 18, 2015MIDSEM Annual Meeting 2015Urbana, IL
ÒText of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.Ó Accessed March 15, 2015. http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=00006.UNESCO.
Cultural Policy in the Mongolian PeopleÕs Republic: A Study Prepared Under the Auspices of the Mongolian National Commission for UNESCO 
. Paris: United Nations Educational, ScientiÞc and Cultural Organization, 1982.Zoljargal, M. ÒMongolian Saddle Submitted as Chinese Cultural Heritage.Ó
The UB Post 
, April 30, 2013. Accessed March 15, 2015. http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=3858.



Mongolian throat singing is crazy – Matjoez in China #3

Mongolian throat singing is crazy – Matjoez in China #3

Published on Sep 10, 2017

287 // Mongolian throat singing or overtone singing is probably the weirdest sound I’ve ever heard lol. ►► Become a Patron here: https://www.patreon.com/matjoez ► Subscribe here: http://www.bit.ly/MatjoezSubscribe ► Instagram me: http://www.instagram.com/matjoez ► Snap me: http://bit.ly/addmatjoezonsnapchat ► Facebook me: http://www.facebook.com/matjoezofficial ► Tweet me: http://www.twitter.com/matjoez M Y C A M E R A G E A R https://kit.com/Matjoez https://kit.com/Matjoez/matjoez-vlog-kit https://kit.com/Matjoez/matjoez-youtu… https://kit.com/Matjoez/matjoez-timel… https://kit.com/Matjoez/matjoez-budge… https://kit.com/Matjoez/matjoez-mobil… — Frequently Asked Questions — What do you do for a living? – I am a commercial timelapse photographer. This means people or brands hire me to produce timelapse or hyperlapse footage. My clients include Canon, Microsoft, Tourism Dubai, Australia, Philippines, etc. What’s with the vlogs? – I was inspired to start vlogging by the vlogging greats such as Casey, Louis and others. I love seeing the behind the scenes of the industry and I hope you enjoy mine! Where do you live and where are you from? – I live in Sydney, Australia. I moved here from Antwerp, Belgium in 2013 in the pursuit of love and adventure! Ja, ik spreek nederlands. What gear do you use? – I use a lot of Canon cameras, mainly the 1DXII and 5D3 (sometimes 5DSR) with a ton of lenses. Check out http://www.instagram.com/matjoez_bts for more #matjoez #vlog #timelapse #hyperlapse #photography #behindthescenes #matthewvandeputte #swooshfam #belgianvlog #belgiumvlog #sydneyvlog #australianvlog #australianvlogger #sydneyvlogger

Altai Kai (Turkic Throat Singing)

Altai Kai (Turkic Throat Singing)

Published on Feb 11, 2017

Really it’s Turkic throat singing in this case, but since they are related steppe cultures I put two songs by Altai Kai (Мой народ/My People and Jебрен кай ла тунур/Ancient Kai Song) alongside a variety of Mongolian inspired imagery. Best viewed full-screen and in 1080p. Note: This is a fan made video and the art and music in this video are not related in any way to myself. Please support the artists by purchasing their original works.

The Altai band from Mongolia

The Altai band from Mongolia

Published on Oct 20, 2016

From Mongolia, Mongolian folk music, beautiful!

The stirring art of Mongolian throat singing

The stirring art of Mongolian throat singing

Published on Nov 23, 2017

The capabilities of a human body are sometimes beyond a brain’s imagination. For example, it’s hard for most people to believe the sound in the video above came from a human being rather than an instrument. That is because the singer is able to produce a continuous bass and simultaneously produce one or more pitches through his/her throat. That unique way of singing is known as khoomei, or hooliin chor (throat singing), an art of singing practiced by Mongolian communities in Inner Mongolia in northern China, Mongolia and the Russian republic of Tuva. It is also known as Tuvan throat singing in other cultures. This singing art was officially inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 2009. Subscribe to us on YouTube: https://goo.gl/lP12gA Download our APP on Apple Store (iOS): https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cctvn… Download our APP on Google Play (Android): https://play.google.com/store/apps/de… Follow us on: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChinaGlobalT… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cgtn/?hl=zh-cn Twitter: https://twitter.com/CGTNOfficial Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/CGTNOfficial/ Tumblr: http://cctvnews.tumblr.com/ Weibo: http://weibo.com/cctvnewsbeijing

OLOID live performed by Christian Zehnder & Gregor Hilbe

OLOID live performed by Christian Zehnder & Gregor Hilbe


Published on Dec 1, 2013

OLOID zehnder / hilbe CD available on http://wwwoloid.li http://www.oloid.li More on OLOID Sculpture: http://paul-schatz.ch http://new-space-mountain.ch http://rhythming.net Sound-Design: Amadis Brugnoni Video: Thomas Radlwimmer – http://radlwimmer.at Lights: Sabine Wiesenbauer

Cascadescan – Mark van Tongeren

Cascadescan – Mark van Tongeren

Published on Jun 21, 2019

Complete concert: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhiMa… Live concert in the Oosterkerk, Amsterdam, Sunday 15/VII/2018. Poduced by Fusica / http://www.fusica.nl Video and audio recording and editing: Casper Steketee

MARK VAN TONGEREN sings 75 seconds in one breath with throat singing technique

MARK VAN TONGEREN sings 75 seconds in one breath with throat singing technique

Published on Apr 16, 2019

Can I sing sygyt (Tuvan throat singing) for one minute, in one breath.? That was my question today. Listen to find out if I made it. (Question 2: Can my iPhone 8 handle the complexities of a human voice that does not sound like a human voice? The answer is: no, you will hear several times it adjusts its calculations to compress the sound, rendering my voice a little louder or softer)