Hanggai: Chinese Punk Looks To The Past

NPR profiles singer Ilchi, a former 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 , 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 . 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:



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