Live From UB Exclusive

Well, I’m in the throngs of editing “Live From UB”. The sad truth about editing nearly a hundred hours of footage down to less than 2 is that a lot of material just won’t make the cut.

With that in mind, I’ll be posting clips that may or may not be in the final piece throughout the editing process.

Here are two from a day I spent at Amarbayasgalant Monastery with the band Mohanik as they recorded their album.

Mongolian Rock in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I was happy to contribute an article for “The Next Page” section of yesterday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The piece gives a brief history of Mongolian rock music but also features Mohanik, one of the bands I was following last summer. Mohanik spent last spring and summer preparing to record an original sounding rock album in the countryside. At the end of August, they brought a crew up to Amarbayasgalant Monastery (5ish hours from UB) and recorded the full album in one day. They let me tag along and film the incredible experience. I’ll be posting more on Mohanik as I sift through all of my footage.

You can read the full article here.

Video: NisNis Fest 2012

Two weeks ago, Mongolian grunge band Nisvanis held their 16th Anniversary concert. They invited ten bands to perform at the showcase, ranging from metal to rock to indie to folk rock.

I recorded four of the bands at the show: Nisvanis, Mohanik, North Ducks, and Altan Urag.


Although they usually play plugged in and amped up, Nisvanis opened the show with an acoustic set. It was nice to hear some of the tunes I’ve heard before in a different way. It actually helped me appreciate the band more as musicians and songwriters.

Altan Urag:

Altan Urag is a staple of the Mongolian music scene. They’re the first Mongolian band to be signed with a major American record label (BMI) and they regularly tour abroad. They’re seen twice a week at one of the larger restaurants in town – but, like other bands who perform in bars/restaurants regularly, they have to play the same songs every time. It was refreshing to hear something a little different at NisNis Fest. It was also fun to see their fans banging their heads and dancing to Altan Urag’s version of traditional Mongolian music.

North Ducks:

North Ducks are fairly new to the UB music scene. They represent a younger generation of artists, weened on alternative rock and influenced by indie bands.


Last, but not least, Mohanik has been around for a few years now. The five members, who are friends from grade school, are now putting together their second album – which they say is more of a concept. They’re returning their gaze toward Mongolia and writing songs inspired by nature, but in a way that is very rock and roll.

NisNis Fest 2012

Last night was one of my favorite concerts thus far in Ulaanbaatar. It was the 16th annual NisNis Festival – a concert commemorating the anniversary of local grunge band Nisvanis.

Ten bands were featured alongside Nisvanis and they switched from two stages, to keep the show moving along. Most of the bands played 3-5 songs, while Nisvanis played both an acoustic and electric set. Bands represented several genres: rock, grunge, metal, folk rock, and indie rock. One band, Jokers Wild, even played Pink Floyd.

It can be hard to find a concert similar to what I’m used to back in the States here in Ulaanbaatar. The market just isn’t as big here, and so real rock shows are few and far between. But, last night’s show was an energizing display of all that the Ulaanbaatar scene has to offer, and all in one venue.

The crowd was mostly young, what you would expect at any rock concert. And although it was mostly Mongolian fans, there were a handful of foreigners who came to check out the scene as well.

Highlights included North Ducks’ rocking cover of a traditional Mongolian song. The whole crowd sang along to their reinterpretation – but, alas, I didn’t know the words. I also really enjoyed seeing Altan Urag (a band I’ve seen quite a bit at their regular restaurant gig) in a more raucous environment. Among the new bands I saw was, Solongo, which is one of only a few Mongolian groups with a female lead singer.

All in all it was a fabulous night. I spent much of the show running around filming a few of the bands and the crowd. I’ll have some of that footage up once I’ve had a chance to edit.

In the meantime, check out the videos below of some of the bands that played last night.

More Photos:

Live from UB: Mohanik

Here’s the second in my ‘Live From UB’ series. I included a music video from Mohanik in an earlier post. They are one of my favorite bands that I’ve discovered so far in UB. The five members of the rock group have been friends since elementary school, a fact that I find particularly endearing.

I really like their sense of humor and the juxtaposition of their light lyrics with a more serious, even heavy, sound. Since my Mongolian is still at the beginner level, it’s not until long after I hear the music and have had the lyrics translated that I understand the full meaning.

I would have never guessed that this song, titled ‘Duugii Daagii’, was a playful song about kissing or making out. The title refers to a children’s hide-and-seek type of game, but in the context of the song takes on a romantic connotation.

DUUGII DAAGII – Translation

Dad, Mom are making out
Grandma, Grandpa are making out
Girls and boys are making out
We are also making out

Making Out

Making out in a tent
Making out on the roof
Making out by the fire
Making out back & forth, up & down, inside the bearcave
(reference to a children’s game)


Want to make out quickly
Want to make out suddenly
Come, come to my place
Let’s make out before my parents come home

Making out
Making out

Duunii Klip: ‘Budagchin’ by Mohanik

I’ve started following the band Mohanik around. I’ve seen them perform three times now and they let me hang out during a rehearsal last week. I really enjoy their music – they have a classic rock and roll sound (2 guitars, bass, drums, keys, vocals) but also have a Mongolian flavor. The lyrics to one tune, for example, are something to the effect of “I wish I had a horse” – very much a Mongolian sentiment.

In addition to simply having a very cool sound, Mohanik is the recent winner of last October’s Mongolian Music Video Awards (which, sadly, I missed). They’re video for ‘Budagchin’ won the top prize at the competition for its creativity and production quality.

You can expect more about Mohanik in upcoming posts, but for now, check out the video:

Note: I have updated ‘Khogjmiin Kino’ to ‘Duunii Klip’, a more common Mongolian term for music video.