Grassland Electronica: Mongolian DJ TMk to Play Lantern, Apr 14
The fringe. Far-flung. A new frontier. Such are the clichés usually espoused by outsiders about Mongolia. And yet, when it comes to the Asian nation’s emerging electronica scene, those sentiments aren’t so off the mark. TMk, however, is striving to change that, slowly but steadily since kicking his DJing career off in 2006.
It’s a challenging scene to be a part of, TMk (who was born Temuujin Ganzorigt, and hails from Mongolia's capital of Ulaanbaatar) tells the Beijinger ahead of his Apr 14 set at Lantern. “Mongolian underground music is just starting to gain momentum. Therefore, society hasn’t reached the level where they give enough recognition to underground artists. Financial support is another big problem, as we DJs have to manage the expenses by ourselves.”
Despite all that, TMk says those humble elements offer unique assets to him and fellow producers working in Mongolia's Majesty DJ collective. “As our population is just over 3 million, we have a small but very loyal audience who has been true to underground music to this day. This gives us the fuel to move on.”
That niche is enthused enough to help TMk woo DJ’s from more established locales to join him for sets at Ulaanbaatar’s Club Temple and Zu Club. Among those guests were Beijing big names like DJ Mickey Zhang and Weng Weng (one of the capital’s most popular turntable vets, who is also known as the head honcho at Lantern). Other artists who have made the trek include heralded Japanese producers like Ken Ishii and Shin Nishimura, German DJ Martin Eyerer, and hot Beijing up and comer Aida.
The latter looks back on her set with TMk fondly, telling the Beijinger: “We played together in Ulaanbaatar and people went crazy when he was playing, they love him there.” Aida goes on to describe him as “one of the most promising artists in the Mongolian underground music scene that’s on the rise right now. His sound is fresh and his sets are vibrant and I really admire the commitment that he has for the music.”
Meanwhile, Mickey Zhang, who will share the bill with TMk this Saturday, says he was more than happy to head to Mongolia to work with TMk and other DJ in region, so much so that he visited five times in the span of two years. "The Mongolian people were born for music and dance, it comes from their blood," Zhang says, adding that TMk is a standout in that scene. "He has very good skills, selections, and music productions. He gave me his own music the first time I played there, and I was immediately impressed."
Weng says TMk and his corhorts on the Majesty collective "are committed to promoting electronic music in Mongolia. They have done many activities, and invited some foreign artists, including me, to Mongolia. TMk has very good taste in music and has the plenty of resources thanks to his residencies at Mongolian clubs. We hope that by inviting him to come to Lantern, we will further strengthen our communication about electronic music culture."
Such encouragement from Beijing counterparts has helped fuel TMk’s drive, and he’s looking forward to stopping by the capital to return the favor and give the Lantern crowd a taste of his immersive, pulse-pounding house leaning instrumentals. Aside from the Beijing set, TMk’s tour also includes two stops in Shanghai and one in Hangzhou.
After that, he’s back to Ulaanbaatar, where he’ll not only continue playing regular local sets and mentoring up and comers, but also consulting on a new cutting-edge club that should help give the city’s electronica niche more breadth. “I will dedicate my entire life to underground music. It is just starting, so I will strive to become a decent producer who can add meaningful contributions to the development of underground music,” he says, adding that he feels encouraged and emboldened as he sets his sights forward: “In order to achieve these goals, being consistent and persistent is important. And now the new generation is growing up with unique taste in music and starting to love underground music.”
TMk will perform at Lantern on Apr 14. Doors open at 11pm and tickets are RMB 50. Click here for more info.
Images courtesy of TMk