NPR profiles singer Ilchi, a former punk rocker who has returned to his Inner Mongolian roots and traditional folk music:
The otherworldly sound of throat singing echoes through a small Beijing cafe. Singer Ilchi is producing two sounds at the same time. Just 28, he’s already undergone a musical odyssey. Once the leader of the punk band T9, he raged in profanity-laden songs about the frustration of modern life. But his direction changed, and he now serves as one of the leading forces pushing a folk-music revival.
“I felt we modern people need to understand more about our past,” Ilchi says.
For Ilchi, that means a pilgrimage into his own past. An ethnic Mongolian, he was born in Inner Mongolia, which is part of China. But he moved with his family to Beijing at the age of 12. Three years ago, on a journey of musical self-exploration, he returned to Inner Mongolia. There, he learned the traditional art of throat singing, and searched for old folk songs in danger of being lost. He started to write his own music for his band Hanggai, including a song about his tobshuur, a two-stringed Mongolian banjo.
Watch a Hanggai Promo Video:
And footage from the Shetland Folk Festival 2008: