Music Video: Nisvanis

I’ve been working on a story about Nisvanis for the past few days. Subsequently, I’ve made my way through several of their music videos, some of which I thought I’d share.

Nisvanis, which formed in 1996, is Mongolia’s first grunge band. Heavily inspired by Nirvana, they brought a new sound of rock music to Mongolia, helping to change the musical landscape. As lead singer Amgaa told me, “Nisvanis is the bridge of Mongolian rock music from the hard times to the good times – from socialism to now. In the beginning of the 1990s, rock music was almost dead. We took what existed of rock music then, and ushered in the new era of Mongolian rock music.”


Live from UB: Metal Showcase

Last Sunday I attended the Season 3: Metal Concert here in Ulaanbaatar. The show featured Mongolia’s top metal/grunge/hardcore bands. It ended up being more of an experience than I had anticipated.

I’ve always been more of a folk/acoustic kind of girl. I appreciate all genres of music, but if I had my choice between attending a grunge concert and attending a folk concert, I would choose folk at least 95% of the time. I’ve never felt quite at home at any sort of concert that involves a mosh pit. Even in the United States I feel like a foreigner when I attend more hardcore shows. And so attending a metal showcase in Mongolia had me feeling like the ultimate outsider. The skinheads who greeted us (the only two white girls) with harsh stares when we walked in didn’t help. But, the musicians who generously let us film and checked in on us throughout the concert did!

Below are three songs by three different bands: Nisvanis, Prophets, and Zugeer I…  And, while I was busy filming, Hedy Dohm was snapping away. Check out her photos from the show here.

Enjoy the foray into the Mongolian metal scene!

Duunii Klip: ‘Asar Basar’ by Ice Top featuring Brothers

UPDATE: A friend of mine who is very knowledgeable about all Mongolian popular music explained that this song was written to help protect this Mongolian dog breed whose numbers are dwindling. ‘Asar’ and ‘Basar’ are popular names for these dogs.

I was feeling a bit tired this evening, so I spent some time doing research in front of the TV, which is to say, flipping through all 65 of my Monoglian TV channels to see what’s out there. I caught this interesting music video by the hip hop group Ice Top.

This is one of the more self-referential Mongolian hip hop music videos I’ve seen. The dogs are a special Siberian breed known for their light-colored eyebrows (or 3rd and 4th eyes). On top of praising the Mongolian dogs, Mongolian symbols are littered throughout the video: the soyombo (featured on their flag), the yin-yang, the prayer scarves, a statuette of a Chinggis Khan-era warrior, the horse-head fiddle, and on.

I’m still unclear if it’s tongue-in-cheek or in earnest. Regardless, it’s very entertaining.

Duunii Klip: ‘Burte Bujin’ by Tsetse

One of Mongolia’s top rappers at the present is Tsetse. According to my friends, he’s actually living in Nebraska, but recording and then selling records (or more likely having his records pirated) here.

In the song ‘Burte Bujin’, Tsetse tells the story of a love triangle and the eventual resulting heartbreak. The video was done by a friend of mine who is a designer here in UB. Considering it was one of his earlier film projects, I’d say it’s pretty pretty good.

Duunii Klip: Nara Featuring Bx, ‘Mongol Naadam’

When I’m not about to leave my apartment to catch a live performance (like now!), I’m spending a lot of time getting lost amidst a forest of Mongolian music videos on YouTube. Everyone has music videos, and as far as I can tell, it’s one of the best ways to find bands.

With that in mind, I’m going to start something I’d like to call ‘Khogjmiin Kino of the Day’*. ‘Khogjmiin’ refers to music and ‘Kino’ is the Mongolian word for film, which I’m guessing has roots in ‘cinema’.

Today’s find is musician Nara featuring rapper Bx. ‘Mongol Naadam’ refers to the annual Naadam Festival, the national sporting competition that takes place every July and showcases Mongolia’s top archers, wrestlers, and horse racers.

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

*’Duunii’ is song and ‘Klip’ is clip.