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Nature Ganganbaigal (Tengger Cavalry)

Interview with Nature Ganganbaigal from Tengger Cavalry
by Kyle Harding at 13 September 2016, 3:17 AM

We had the opportunity to speak with Nature Ganganbaigal of TENGGER CAVALRY, one of the most unique Folk Metal bands today, who have been growing in popularity at an exponential rate. We discussed the inspiration behind bridging Nomadic Folk music and Heavy Metal, as well as some of their most recent endeavors, including their performance at the world-famous Carnegie Hall. Nature was even kind enough to give us a few hints about what the future of the band may hold.

First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to allow us here at Metal Temple to interview you as far as TENGGER CAVALRY goes! Your band has been really growing a lot lately and I know you’ve got a lot of new fans coming in every day and learning about your music. The question that all of them have is: “What first inspired you to put together Mongolian Folk and Heavy Metal?” Where in that equation did you decide to put them both together?

Back in the day, when I was still playing heavy metal in high school, I listened to a lot of different styles. You know, like a lot of the other kids, starting with the hardcore metal bands like usual, but then I discovered Scandinavian Viking Folk Metal, and I really like the idea of incorporating their own culture into metal music. So I started to look up to people who put out different Asian Music with metal. Then, I discovered that Mongolian Folk Music, actually, is perfect for heavy metal, because the Mongolians- the nomadic folk music experience is very masculine, very manly, like warriors, those kinds of styles. It’s just naturally fitting to Metal music. Some of the (folk) music is very… zen, in-the-forest-meditation, that kind of style, but nomadic music is not one of that. It’s very straightforward, very western-like. So I think it’s cool and it fits when you put them together.

You mentioned how you were playing a lot of heavy music and then you saw other bands inter-mixing their culture. Both Mongolian and Heavy Metal, who were those bands that really influenced you to do this sort of thing? What were your biggest influences, musically, to make TENGGER CAVALRY?

All over, there’s a lot of influence! From the metal perspective, to make it simple, my first favorite band, and I still like them, is SLIPKNOT! People are pretty surprised when I say that, I like them because they have that really basic, strong Metal spirit that’s straightforward. And then I’ll listen to very traditional metal like PANTERA, that kind of stuff. I learned about the traditional thrash metal technique and how they express their emotions through this kind of musical genre, and then I got into folk metal. I like all the different kinds like Celtic Folk Metal, Viking Folk Metal… see how they incorporate folk and which ones did better, which ones did worse, try to learn and compare. Now, for the folky part, I would listen to a lot of nomadic folk music around the world- Native American music, Kazakhstan music, Central Asian Folk music, Mongolian Folk music, and, generally, North Asian nomadic music, because that’s where the nomadic people are from. You know, I partially have Mongolian and nomadic ancestry from a long time ago. I really can feel it! So I’m really passionate about bringing these things together!

Your band was based out of Beijing, China, at first. I’m sure you get this a lot, but for our viewers, what was it that made you decide to come to the United States and why the United States over any other place in the world?

I always really liked American culture, which I probably shouldn’t say in China *laughs* but I do! I always listened to American music and, I don’t know, there’s just something, you know… when you meet someone, you know when you guys agree on the basic things, and that’s how I feel about the USA. When I came here, everything felt easy, like, when you do culture, there’s no bullshit that complicates it, political or something beyond music that you have to deal with here. Here, people just talk about culture, music, and diversity because everybody is from somewhere else in this country. I find it very easy to make culturally-relative music. That’s, actually, I think part of the biggest reason for me to move here. And also, the music industry here is way better, because, you know, in most parts of the world, Metal, especially in certain countries, Metal is not that acceptable. Not specifically politically, but mostly culturally and socially. Even though government has no problem with it, the society has a problem with it, but here, I find that, compared to other countries, it’s way better.

Moving on with the American culture, you guys played at a really culturally-significant place, Carnegie Hall, this past Christmas Eve. What was it that made that night so special for TENGGER CAVALRY?

That night was a very personal night because a lot of my friends in the traditional American families, they were all out of town, so I couldn’t get them to come to the show. I was concerned about ticket sales because, you know, it’s Christmas Eve, a lot of people go back to meet their parents or friends- it’s a very family-gathering time, and it’s hard to sell tickets, but we managed to be sold out! A lot of people actually came from out of town to see us; some person even came from LA to get here to see us! And that’s something very special. Also, it was an unplugged concert. We are generally a metal band, but we also do folky concerts, and this was definitely one of them, and we plan to do more! So, you know, we really enjoy playing folk music, too!

That mixture for folk and metal is really interesting!

And we group that! We can do both, we can do pure, as hard as you want metal, or we can do very light, meditative folk stuff, we like both you know.

You guys are going on tour far across the US, are you excited, nervous, what’s going through your guys’ heads?

Not really, we’re just chill about it, you know. We do our job, we see what’s coming up, because the tour is really about working hard and improvise because things always happen and you just have to deal with it. We don’t think about it too much, just do the grunt work, prepare as much as possible, bring enough clothes, bring enough style, bring enough gear! It’s not a good thing to get too excited because, when you get too excited… you have a responsibility to entertain people, you know, it’s not your first party where you get drunk and go crazy, you need to let other people do that, but as musicians, our job is to know what is going on, make sure people have fun, put on a good show. That’s the most important thing for us.

Your band features a vast variety of instruments, some of them us “uncultured” Americans have never even heard of! Which of those instruments is your favorite one to play?

My first instrument is guitar, but if I had to choose my second instrument, it would definitely have to be the Mongolian horse-head fiddle, because it sits like a cello, but with two strings. Imagine a cello with 2 strings; you have a horse head on it, that’s a horse head fiddle. That’s a very special instrument. You can play very long, slow, very beautiful, sorrowful melodies, but at the same time, you can play very fierce, very rhythmic, very harsh, very heavy melodies and rhythm, you’ve got both sides! It’s a very expressive instrument!

Sounds like the instrument itself is very representative of Mongolian culture.


Let’s go into the meaning of the band, for the fans that don’t know, what does TENGGER CAVALRY mean? Where does that term come from?

“Tengger” is a Mongolian word for “sky”, so TENGGER CAVALRY is like the cavalry of the sky, or the guardians of nomadic culture, something like that. We don’t have a very specific definition but you got the feeling. We want to point out that we relate to the nomadic and shamanic culture, but also we relate to warriors, like the Nordic Vikings, we’ve got both sides. And that’s what we’re trying to hint in our name.

How has TENGGER CAVALRY’s music evolved over the years? I noticed you’re using more and more of the traditional Mongolian folk instruments. How would you say TENNGER CAVALRY’s music has changed since its formation in 2010?

In the beginning, it’s more like a rough composition. With the really harder stuff, you try to put the 2 things together just to try and make up something very heavy- I guess the early stuff is more heavy and dark, Black Metal a little bit, but over time we somehow… we grow up, we have different mindsets, our life changes, we sort of become more mature, more traditional a little bit, not like “Thrash Metal traditional”, just traditional Heavy Metal, not specific stuff, not like the early songs. We have blast beats, Black Metal parts, Death Metal parts, like extreme stuff. But for now, some of the new songs are very Hard Rock like old METALLICA style, that kind of stuff. So I guess somehow becoming more chill, and still very heavy in a very different way- I think that’s where we’re ensconced.

Finally, can you give us a little preview for the future of TENGGER CAVALRY? Can you give us a little hint at some plans you might have for the band- something that we can anticipate as we wait for what’s coming?

We’re working on signing with a new label, we want to put up a new music video, a new album, and we probably want a new European tour next year because we got a lot of requests from the European fans. We’re only touring in America for this time, so we want to play for our fans next year. So, hopefully, it goes well!

I think that about wraps it up! Is there anything else you want to add to this interview- anything personal you want to say to your fans that might be reading this?

We thank our fans for supporting us and we thank Metal Temple for supporting us! I’ve been reading our reviews from Metal Temple for a long time back in the old albums, so we really appreciate that. Make sure you check us out our Facebook. It’s TENGGER CAVALRY! We post all the tour information, new singles, new promo pictures, and new concerts all over there, so make sure you check it out. Thank you, guys!

Thank you for taking the time to let us interview you here at Metal Temple. We’re so happy to have had the opportunity to speak with you!


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Edited 01 February 2023

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