Nature G’s life is quite different (and better) today than it was seven months ago.
One evening, in December 2017, the leader of Tengger Cavalry — the Mongolian folk metal collective that made its U.S. splash in 2015 when it secured a gig at New York’s prestigious Carnegie Hall — was sitting on the top floor of his Roosevelt Island apartment building, drinking beer, looking at his phone and feeling utterly miserable. The pressure of managing the band’s day-to-day responsibilities had been wearing him down for months: the act had done five U.S. tours within two years and released two EPs and two official albums (including 2017’s Die on My Ride) since the Carnegie Hall show. He was working long hours at UPS to make ends meet, and he was also frustrated by an unexpected legal issue that had arisen with his former business partner. “I kind of got into a really deep depression from the result of what was stressful work in the past few years and a lot of stress from life,” he recalls to Streets Talkin.
To be frank, he was contemplating suicide that night, and he figured getting drunk first would make it easier to do it. He had indicated his dark state of mind while texting a couple of friends, but he was still shocked when about a dozen police officers suddenly showed up to check on him. “They were like, ‘Dude, what the fuck are you doing here?’ and they were really worried,” he says. “I think someone [in my building] spotted me when I went up there [and became concerned].”
In a now-removed Facebook post, Nature G stated that he was OK after speaking with the police, and he was stunned when he got “300 messages” from friends and fans that confessed that they also had contemplated or attempted suicide. “I was fucking shocked by how many people actually had the same problems,” he says. “Nobody actually talked about it. People just pretend to be perfect — ‘Oh, my life is great’ — when actually everybody suffers.”
After a few more rough months, he decided that he needed a change of scenery to figure things out, and he says his current label, Napalm Records, encouraged him to take whatever time he needed to determine his next steps. Nature G announced in February that he was disbanding Tengger Cavalry due to the stress of the legal problem with his ex-business partner. (Because of a nondisclosure agreement he signed to resolve their issues, he could not disclose further details.) He then visited friends in Austin and, attracted to the city’s easygoing vibe, decided to move there. However, Austin reminded him of “those chill times [he] spent on the grassland” in Mongolia, and within a week after arriving in March, he hauled stakes again and traveled to Tibet, then went home to Beijing.
While in Beijing, he reconnected with loved ones. He also helped a friend train a 3-year-old horse at a farm, which inspired him to look at everything from a new perspective “because when you’re working with animals, you’ve got to be really patient, and you’ve got to be really brave…this whole process kind of really reconstructed my ideas about art and life.” Working with the animal reminded the songwriter-performer of why he had formed Tengger Cavalry. “It’s horse-culture inspired music. That was the root,” he explains. “It’s not about business, it’s not about [being] famous, it’s not about touring. It’s for people around the world who love animals and who love nature…that’s the reason why I was writing music. All this business stuff, it pulled me very far away from I wanted to express in this band.”
Newly inspired, Nature G decided to reunite Tengger Cavalry and bring in other nomadic folk musicians from Beijing to record with them. The resulting song was “Heart,” the video for which Streets Talkin is exclusively premiering today (July 13).
“Music’s not about all this extra stuff. It’s really just about your heart. That’s why you write music,” he says of the track. “That’s why people put so much time and effort into promoting music, because without heart, it’s basically bullshit, so I wrote this song to remind myself what music’s actually really about.”
Meanwhile, the band continues to get back on track. Nature G has returned to New York, which will again be the base of Tengger Cavalry’s operations, although he hopes to work with more Mongolian musicians in the future. He’s planning a return gig at Carnegie Hall, hopefully in mid-September, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to cover such expenses as transportation and production for the show.
Now that he’s more mindful of the stress that he had been enduring, Nature G intends to handle things in a more relaxed manner, “not rushing, rushing, get this done, next one, next one.” But he understands that continuous hard work is the price of making a successful living as a musician.
“It’s New York City. You make it, you stay. You don’t make it, you get out. That’s the New York mentality,” he says. “I don’t feel like, ‘Oh, I went through so much.’ It’s all fair [to] me.”
Watch the video for “Heart” below.
See the guest musicians who performed on “Heart”: