Bringing Mongolian throat singing to North America with The HU

THE Hu. Photo by Hunter Walwaski

Mongolian traditional music outfit tour in support of new album The Gereg

L’Astral recently hosted world-famous Mongolian throat singing quartet The HU on the first stop of their North American tour. No, this isn’t a revival of the ‘70s English rock band, although the venue did enjoy playing “Who Are You” by The Who before The HU came on. More on the name later.

The band are currently embarking on a multi-faceted world takeover, playing venues across North America and Europe over the next few months. They are touring in support of their debut album, titled The Gereg.

While the legend of Genghis Khan and his brotherhood still lives on, The HU are resuming this ancient conquest by bringing rhythmic beats and cultural tunes to the masses, rather than war and pillage. The hype surrounding this band revolves around the new sonic mix they have created by blending traditional Mongolian music and classic rock and roll beats, making for a culturally energetic spectacle, to say the least.

We met with lead throat-singer Jaya before the show, who was accompanied by a translator, as none of the band members speak English. They did, however, use the little English they know to scream “let’s rock!” between songs. Of course, the crowd responded to this in the universal language of ‘scream as loud as you can.’

The band name derives from the Mongolian term “Hunnu,” an ancient local empire known globally as the Huns. Traditional Mongolian values, such as adopting the role of a strong warrior, are implemented within the band’s music through inspiring lyrics (which are all written and sung in Mongolian, of course).

“Our message is to inspire others with courage,” said Jaya. “We don’t want to be just playing rock headbanging or melodic things, we want to combine everything. Most of the time the message we are trying to share with the world is to love and respect our elders, honour this Earth, and protect it.” The Gereg also discusses modern values, such as a global respect for women.

Concert-goers were undoubtedly fully immersed within the Mongolian serenade that occured on the night of Sept. 19. The HU packed a punch with a mini army – a lead singer, two guitarists, a bassist, one morin khuur (horse-fiddle) player, a lute player, and two percussionists. For stage aesthetics, each member wore a slew of traditional Mongolian garb, sporting long flowy robes, tribal tattoos, hyde mountain shoes, and even special leather water canteens. The scene is exactly what you’d think a Mongolian throat-singing band would stereotypically look like.

The concert experience was incredibly powerful, unsurpassed by any previous acts I have seen. First off, the crowd was diverse: you had your metalheads in full leather, long-haired stoners, young popheads, and even people that seemed like this could have been their first concert. Regardless of character type, The HU’s tribal rhythms got everybody’s heads bobbing.

The room was pulsing with an indescribable sonic energy, akin to that of a swaying heartbeat pumping its way through the crowd to the beat of synchronized drum hits and Mongolian fiddles. Song after song, the packed crowd moved at the fingertips of the brotherhood before them. It was a mesmerizing performance.

Jaya ended the interview on an inspiring final note which confirms the power behind the band’s lyrics.

“Everybody has struggles in this life, whether you be facing financial struggles, facing cancer, or anything else,” said Jaya. “We wanted to help those people through our music to awaken the fighter in you so you can face it, accept it, then come out of this as a winner.”


Photos by Hunter Walwaski

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