Just a few months ago, no one in the world would know about the Mongolian rock band The Hu. Their popularity was not widespread in Mongolia until recently. The Hu was grouped in 2016 under the instruction of songwriter and producer B. Dashdondog, aka Dashka.
The sensation has gone viral after The Hu posted the widescreen videos of their two songs on YouTube. These two music videos on YouTube was released in fall 2018, “YuveYuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”, without any promotion has garnered over 7 million views by January 2019.
Followed by immediate comments from audience on their YouTube page, most of them were spectaculating. Here are some:
“I don’t get a word of it but it is quite rich to give me goosebumps. Stunning work of art, brilliant use of intangible heritage in globally renown rock scale” Carpe Odor!.
“13th century: RRRUUUNNNN!! The Mongols are coming!! Present day: YAAAYYYYY!!!! The Mongols are coming!!” thekillerdrummerKD.
“Music is language. A language that transcends words. You do not have to understand it to feel it. You just feel it. You just feel The Hu. Even if you do not understand. That is the power of real music. It unites us all” Daniel Lawrence.
“Listened to this at 3 am. My neighbors called the police. The police arrested them” Woman Fide Master Rita.
“Why can’t we love the sacred lands that our ancestors left us?” Loved that part! Music, Instruments, Images, all is really cool! Mongolian metal rocks! Greetings from Argentina!” Alvaro San Martín.
“Finally I can say that I listened to Mongolian folk metal before it became mainstream lol” Ада.
“Looks this is the only band that all ages of generation, types of gender, and nationalities love and listen”Sun.
“The only reason why the Mongols didn’t conquer the world was because The HU didn’t have enough songs” Aldair C. Flores.
It was mind-blowing that an unknown Mongolian rock band became a worldwide sensation on YouTube. This was not the end, but the beginning.
They, re-released the singles on March 29, generating incredible recognition across the globe. The track, “Wolf Totem” reached Top 5 on the iTunes Rock Chart and was featured as the #1 song on 19 different charts, while “Yuve Yuve Yu” reached #2 on 11 different charts across the globe.
“Wolf Totem” ranked No. 1 on Billboard chart in the category of Hard Rock Digital Song Sales, increased by 1,056% to 6,000 downloads by the end of the week on April 11, according to Nielsen Music. The Hu’s first act since Bad Wolves in February 2018 to top Hard Rock Digital Song Sales was with its first charting song.
The Hu also becomes the first foreign band headed in this chart, who sings in its native language, not in English.
Moreover, the Mongolian band has signed a contract with US-based Eleven Seven Music, one of the world leading independent rock labels – home to Mötley Crüe, Five Finger Death Punch, Papa Roach and Nothing More. Eleven Seven’s COO, Steve Kline said about the signing, “Eleven Seven is continuously searching for unique and talented artists. The Hu’s mix of traditional Mongolian instrumentation and originality in rock is unlike any other bands. At the first time listening to them, we were immediately blown away. The Hu are about to take the world by storm, and we could not be more excited to welcome them to the Eleven Seven family!”
The Hu went on a European tour introducing the public nine songs of the upcoming international release of their debut album “The Gereg” on Seven Eleven Music, including “Yuve Yuve Yu” and “Wolf Totem”. This European tour kicked off on June 6 in Berlin, Germany.
The Mongolian band has performed in 13 countries within two months and participated in Sama’Rock and Eurockeennes De Belfort Festivals (France), Download Festival (UK), Tons of Rock Festival (Norway) and Graspop Festival(Belgium), plus UK performances.In everywhere the crowd met them chanting “Hu! Hu! Hu!” while pumping their fists in the air. Fan clubs emerged in many European countries, even in those where they have not performed yet.
After such a successful ‘invasion’ in Europe, The Hu will begin a grand tour across the North America in September.The tour will begin with a performance at Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis, MN on September 11th.
A grand 3-month tour will end with a performance on the Brooklyn Bowl stage in Las Vegas on December 7th.
Now let’s figure out what is the secret of such a lightning success of this four-piece band.
Gala,the 29-year-old lead throat singer of the band, who grew up listening to the music of such bands like Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Metallica or AC/DC, once said that their music is different from any other bands because it’s based on Mongolian traditional tunes, mixed with rock beats, and that they play it using ancient national instruments.
“And Mongolian traditional music is not like classical Western music,” adds singer Jaya. “The tunes have rock in them, but like us nobody tried to bring it out the open.”
“We wanted to come up with our own thing that we could offer for this big music family. Make something new,” says Dashka, the producer of The Hu.
Mongolian musical culture is tied up with their pastoral way of life. The two-stringed horsehead fiddle Morin khuur is shaped to resemble a horse and includes the carving of a horse head and strings and bow made of horsehair. It produces a sound similar to a violin and can be used to imitate the sound of a herd of horses. In throat singing, associated with pastoral herders in Central Asia, the singer produces a low constant sort of drones at the same time as a series of higher tones in a quite manner.
The band’s name, The Hu, is the Mongolian word for human being. The Hu combines traditional Mongolian instruments with modern American hard rock to create their own style of music, which they call it Hunnu rock. It was inspired by the Hunnu, an ancient Mongolian empire, known as the Huns in western culture. This unique sound blends heavy rock elements with traditional Mongolian guttural throat singing, accentuated by lyrics reflecting old Mongolian war cries and poetry.
“Mongolians are not just taking elements from Western music and it is not just a copycat,” says Thalea Stokes, A PhD student in ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. Instead, they’re using some of these elements and making their own authentic music. “So it’s not rock music performed by Mongolians. It’s Mongolian rock music,” she says.
The band will release its first album very soon on September 13. As mentioned above, the album title is “The Gereg”, which means the term used for a diplomatic passport during the time of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan. The Gereg will be published for international release under the label of Eleven Seven Music.
Seemingly, the unexpected success story of The Hu which was as swift as the Mongol invasion under Chinggis Khan in the Middle Ages, will continue without slowing down.