During their improvised trip in France, and after Ragnard Rock Festival’s cancellation, I had the opportunity to talk a bit with Tengger Cavalry‘s singer, Nature, during half a jour before the show. We talk about traditions, music, but human being above all.
- Could you introduce the band and yourself please?
Nature : Hey, how are you doing everybody ? This is Nature from Tengger Cavalry. I’m the lead singer, the main songwriter, guitarist, vocalist of the band. I created the band like five years ago. Now we’re based on New York City. We’re currently touring in Europe so… Yeah, this is our first time playing in Paris.
- How would you describe Tengger Cavalry’s music to someone that never heard about the band before?
Nature : Tengger Cavalry is a Metal band that combines mongolian folk, central asian folk and even native american folk into the Heavy Metal. We call ourself Nomadic Folk Metal. Because it’s our main inspiration, like shamanism, natural forces, nomadic life. We put our cultural roots in the music.
- How does the musical creation process work in the band?
Nature : That’s a big question (laughs) ! When I write a new song… I think that I always have a few something that happen in my life. When some good shit or bad shit happen, it makes me want to express something from my heart. Happiness, depression, anger… I would not just write until I find something, I just wait for few days until this emotion become something I can express. Then I write a song about it. When you deal with someone, maybe a relationship with someone, you can realise how the world works or something like that, you have emotions and you think again and you put it into music.
For the songwriting, I have a different approach of writing. Sometimes I put the guitar first, on very rare cases I put the mongolian fiddle first. Mostly it’s guitars, drums and mongolian folk on top.
- So folk elements is the last part ?
Nature : I always have folk in mind when I start to paint this picture, but I start with the guitar. I always leave a blank for the folk. It’s more like “this layer is for folk” on the rhythm part.
- Previously, you played every instruments on the records. Is it easy to find someone who play “igil” in the United States ?
Nature : It wasn’t hard but he is a very unique player. Like Robert McLaughlin, who used to play igil for the band but now he has other stuff to do, so he couldn’t tour. It’s definitively hard to find the musician I need, because for folk musicians I have to find… the right nerd (laughs) ! It’s not just like a guitar player. Nomadic Folk Metal is very specific, idle is from the people who live in the region Ourus. I had to find a really super cultural nerd that loves this stuff. So I dig to find the right people. Yeah, it’s hard but it’s why the band is like what we are, over the differences I guess.
- Did you notice a great difference between Blood Sacrifice Shaman and Die On My Ride ?
Nature : A huge difference ! I mean Blood Sacrifice Shaman was more like experiments, tries of combination between mongolian culture, shamanism, ancestry, horses, the shaman perspective and a really heavy music, like Black Metal. Die On My Ride is very very personal. It’s almost like punk music. Expression of one person in individual, a single perspective about what you feel about this world. Frustration, why you feel limited by society or a structure. This album’s lyrics are not political, but very culturally pointed you know. Especially living in New York City, we have a great diversity of people living here. We are just human, that makes me think “okay, it’s time to write an album about every fucking human”. Not about shamanism, not about horses, just human because we are humans connected to each other, especially in the 21st century. I was thinking about that and lyrically it’s really different. But musically, I still try to use the same music language : mongolian fiddle, throat singing, but with a different taste.
- In the approach of composition ?
Nature : Yeah, exactly.
- It’s your biggest european run as far, how is it to play in Europe?
Nature : When I think to play here… I think I will feel more thankful after the show, when I talk to the fans. I love to talk with fans. You play a show, you do your best. On stage, I don’t really care about where I play, I just play and give the best I can on that day. Because some days you feel cranky (laughs), some days you’re at your best… I don’t really think too much about the place I play at the moment. But after the show, I really try to connect with the people who live there, and I appreciate it. It’s really cool you know, I just feel like there is a huge pleasure to connect with each other through music, drinking, weed or shit (laughs)… I really enjoy to play everywhere and break the social barriers of this area, we connect together. I’d like to tour everywhere in the world.I care about the cultural difference, but I care more about personal connection. We sit down as individuals, as human being, two eyes one mouth, and just talk to each other. That’s how I feel.
- And how was the show at Wacken ?
Nature : Wacken was pretty awesome ! We hang out with bands, it was awesome. Best sausages ever, lots of german beer !
- German beers are really cool !
Nature : It’s actually not the best ones! I found out that german beers are not the better, it’s lot of flavours. There was huge pints (laughs).
- My favorite beer is a belgian one.
Nature : I actually never tried belgian beers. Because we had a stop at Antwerp a few hours. And that day I didn’t had a lot of money so they all got beers and I didn’t get, I only had some water. I was like “damn !” (laughs).
- So you need to go back to Antwerp and try some beers !
Nature : Yeah, sure.
- What do you feel when you go on stage? Is your stage gear (just like clothes) important?
Nature : Traditional clothes ? That’s a good question. There are different ways of looking at it. I have two perspectives. One perspective is because we represent our traditional culture. We have to respect tradition by wearing that. But on the other hand, you cannot really endorse too much about your image, the way you look. Because that way, you’re limiting your ability to be you as a person, to be yourself. If you focus more on your confidence, your audience, you make your show better. There is more positive energy, you represent something bigger. But that’s very important, you can’t just say “oh I wear this so I’m someone else”.
- You’re not playing a character
Nature : That’s it. That’s what I learn sometimes. You understand that you might look cooler but you have to realize that even if you represent something, you are only yourself. That’s amazing because you do your life and you can even represent something.
- So it’s just a visual addition to the music ?
Nature : I think that there is a cultural meaning and also you focus more about the energy you give to the audience. It’s good that your image respect the culture you’re playing for, but on stage you don’t really think too much about what you look. It’s a good positive energy. I think that’s very important.
- How did you get the idea to mix Chinese and Mongolian culture with Metal music?
Nature : I think I get inspired by the Viking Folk Metal. Eluveitie, some Celtic Folk Metal bands… I’m really inspired by people trying to combine their culture with Heavy Metal, and people can party on it so… I was thinking “Why not doing the same with Mongolian culture ? It might be fun ! Everybody can party on that too !”. Music belongs to the world, so everybody can enjoy it.
- And how do you think the place you give to the Chinese culture in your band is seen by your fans through the world? Is it important to keep this originality in the current Metal scene?
Nature : There are few couple in the country Mongolian and in China too… There is some local bands but I used to think some years ago “yeah it’s so important ! We have to use asian music because it’s so original !”, but after few years, I feel like the most important thing is not about originality, representing your culture or not. The most important thing is being true with yourself. How you really feel because that’s the only thing I can make, being true with your audience. I tried to be something, I tried to be a warrior, but if you try so hard you can lose your emotions. The most important part is to play, loving what you do and what you are. That’s the most important thing for me. Life is hard, we all must stay focus on our energy. That’s what I learned recently. Performance is important for the music language, but now it’s about life, what you see, people that dies, people gonna sick… I’m not into this national culture battle… I’m just like people, I want to take care of me and of each other.
- You said that you find inspiration for both music and lyrics in yourself and through stuff that happened. Is there any other source of inspiration?
Nature : I think one of the last thing was elections in America. It’s not about him. It’s just about people’s reaction. There was a lot of hatred, and when you got really close to people, you can feel it. It’s not about one person in particular, but about people. Some people were like “holy shit…” and that makes me think about it. I think that when I try to write songs in a very personal view, it’s not about point of view because my point of view is peace, but when you sing about war, it’s more like human mentality. It’s not really about go outside and kill people.
- It’s not about the fight itself ?
Nature : No. You fight the nature when you live in the grass. In New York City you don’t fight the nature or people (laugh). It’s not really legal to do this. If you want to fight, just go to the gym and fight yourself. I mean, back on your question, when a lot of things happen around me I just try to put them in the music but in a very solitary way. I don’t have a strong point of view about everything so sometimes it’s complicated. I try to write my emotions, so people can feel too. We all feel something that is the same, we’re all discriminated in the world, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. I try to catch this anger, I don’t know if I did a good job doing this for Die On My Ride, but it’s what I did with album.
- In 2016 and 2017, you released some cover songs (Paranoid, Master of Puppets, etc…) with your universe, were they easy to transpose?
Nature : Not really. I mean, those songs were written in a clear way, it’s very simple songs, like Symphony Of Destruction, Master Of Puppets, it’s not really complicated stuff because of very simple riffs but very effective. For me, adding Nomadic stuff is really easy. It’s not like there a lot of lead guitar or solos, arpeggios… The songs I covered are concise.
- Do you like video games? Because your cover of Pokémon Gym Challenge sounds like a tribute to Pokemon and video games in general.
Nature : Yes, and I fucking love Pokémon ! I’ll tell you a secret, I used to be a Pokémon trainer ! You breed your own Pokémons from the beginning to be more powerful, I used to be a geek, and I loved to build a strong team. It’s a fantastic game, I love this game.
- The first time I played Pokémon, I was seven, and now I’m twenty four years old. I still love and play Pokémon.
Nature : Which generation do you play ?
I played at least one game of each generation. For me, the best one is the second one.
Nature : That’s Silver and Gold, right ? They’re cool, but have you played the Sun and Moon yet ?
- I tried, there’s some changes. Some good ones, but at the beginning I was disappointed of the loss of gyms. Because there is no more gyms or champions, just a huge Pokémon that counts as an area boss. Honestly it’s fine.
Nature : So there’s no Elite Four ?
- There is an Elite Four, but no champions, no badges.
Nature : Really ?
- Yeah, they cancelled it, but it’s fine. I was sceptic at the beginning, but it’s still cool. You can play it safely (laughs) !
Nature : I understand, at the beginning you said “What ?!” (laughs)
- Is there some Chinese bands that you would like to recommend? The only one I know is Ego Fall.
Nature : I was about to say Ego Fall. Especially their new songs. I don’t know if they put it online… Check on YouTube or their Facebook, there is some new songs.
- What would be the best line-up ever that you would dream of going on tour with?
Nature : To tour together ? That’s a hard question ! I like Eluveitie a lot, so I’ll invite them. Maybe they are too big but I’ll try (laughs). Hmm… I like Arch Enemy, a very cool band, with the new singer, she is really cool. And the third one… Oh I know ! Do you know the german Folk band called Faun ?
- Yes, I know them.
Nature : It’s really different from what we play, but I fucking love their albums !
- They have a really strong universe, so even if it’s different, I understand your choice.
Nature : Their universe is very shamanic too, very spiritual. It’s german traditions with celtic stuff.
- Another band like this is Dordeduh from Romania. It’s also very spiritual.
- Do you prefer an epic lead guitar or a lumbering rhythm part?
Nature : The rhythm part ! I used to be a huge huge huge lead guitar player, but I’m old now (laughs). I just love riffs. In college I was like “hey check this out !” and I did fancy solos, I practiced a lot but… Now I’m more into strong simple riffs.
- What is the first Metal song you ever listened to?
Nature : Would you call Linkin Park Metal ?
- Of course.
Nature : So it’s Linkin Park. I think that the first song I heard was… The first song of Linkin Park’s second album… Don’t Stay ! As far as I can remember, that’s my first song. Some people don’t like them but I don’t care.
- The two firsts records are Metal in my opinion.
Nature : It’s tricky because those two albums sounds to me more like Electronic Pop-Rock. Also a bit Punk-Rock because of the drum beat, the riffs… If you listen to the guitar on those albums, you can barely hear the details, because they put some special effects in the guitar sound, they cut the guitar so clean… And the drum beat is so clean too, they cut the sound of the guitar so you just hear the kick drum and the guitar body… It doesn’t sound like a real guitar but it’s a real guitar… The way they produced the albums sounds like Pop-Rock, but a really heavy Pop-Rock.
- Maybe that’s why they slowly moved to Rock/Pop.
Nature : Yeah… But when they moved to real Pop-Rock, I was like “Yeah, I like the guitar electronic sound”.
- Why did you choose to play Metal music?
Nature : I like it I guess. I mean it’s a very energetic music, it helps you to get rid of many emotions, it helps you express a lot of emotions.
- After the show, when you meet your fans, what is the most insane dedication you received from a fan?
Nature : There was one time we played in Portland, on the west coast. There was this girl, she cooked a bunch of cookies in the shape of swords and horses ! A huge bag in the shape of sword and horses ! There was so many details, like a viking sword, like horse chains ! A full bag and they taste really good ! That was really cool.
- Did you noticed a difference between fans in America and in Europe?
Nature : I think european fans are more shy and polite. American fans are closer than you, they are more warm… Generally, with american fans it’s easier to warm up and to talk to you. The european fans are more polite and they slowly warming up.
- Also in the USA, to say “hi”, you make a hug, but in Europe you just shake the person’s hand.
Nature : Yeah, and also you say “Hello, how are you ?”, but in the USA people say “Hey what’s up man ?” (laughs). It’s more natural.
- The last question : what was your last musical crush? Any bands to recommend?
Nature : My last crush… There’s a band called Icon For Hire. They’re from the United States, like a Punk-Pop band with female vocals. A lot of Heavy Metal influences. They have a Metal mentality but it’s more like Metalcore in the end… I appreciate that ! It’s heavy !
- Thanks a lot for your time, maybe you have a final word to conclude for french fans?
Nature : I appreciate everybody’s support and everybody who are here for us, I enjoy playing for people in France. We will definitely come back and thanks everybody for support ! We will keep playing our music, I hope that you like it !
- We like it, don’t worry (laughs) !