SS Archives Issue One: M. Davaadongrov aka Milo Silva

Milo Silva is wonderfully strange. It is easy for a lot of people to go about their day forgetting that people like Milo exist, wading through the drudgery of day to day work, paying the bills, doing the dishes, driving here or there, etc. But immediately upon
entering the space occupied by the 6’5” fellow, you forget that drudgery. You realize that all of it is a little bit mundane, idiosyncratic, and a bit unnecessary. He smokes a lot, but he always makes sure to ask if you mind. If you go over to his house, he offers you tea and brings it out on a nice platter. He talks about Tuva, and Mongolia, he makes wonderful steamed bread filled with veggies. He throat sings better than anyone I know, but has given it up. He plays the Morin Huur (Mongolian National Horse Head Fiddle). Hearing it played transports you even further away from the mundane. The sound it makes seems to find the part of your brain that has collected cobwebs. They give the webs a little shake that reverberates around in your skull and makes you feel electric. It’s good to be strange. ♥

Interview
S.S.
Name of the Artist Band? What is the origin of that name? (Include all band members names and instruments played.):

Milo:
I don’t really have a band, I never actually have. I usually play alone, or occasionally with Nina Violet (when I’m lucky) or other crazy shit with the help of Ben “Swamirajavajrayamapandit” Jones. I did play with a group in the late 70’s called “Church-Key Silva and the Fucked Up Farm Girls”, but that ended like most of my projects back then; in prison, in Turkey. But I really don’t want to get into that, to many broken dreams.

S.S.
What type of artist would you say you are?

Milo:
When I play solo nowadays I usually play the Morin Huur (Mongolian National Horse Head Fiddle) and usually stick to traditional Mongol songs.

S.S.
Tell us the brief history of your band.

Milo:
Got interested in Höömii (throat singing) and igil (west Mongol and Tuvan name for horse head fiddle) after seeing Genghis Blues in 2000. Went to study throat singing in San Francisco from Paul Pena and some Tuvan guys, made four trips there throughout 2005-6. Went to (and got hitched temporarily in) Tuva in 2007. Tuva sucks. Went to Mongolia to play the International Horse Head
Fiddle Festival in Ulaanbaatar in 2008. And now I live a socially parasitic lifestyle back home in OB.

S.S.
How/when did you first discover the instrument?

Milo:
My first bowed string instrument wasthe Western Mongolian and Tuvan igil which is similar to the morin huur but much cruder. I built most of my own igils and learned as much as I could on the instrument in my teens. However the igil is a very limited instrument, I grew out of it. The morin huur is far more dynamic and complex (and really fucking difficult), one can play virtually anything on the morin huur even Western (i.e. European) classical music. I stopped playing the igil when I as 20, and now I concentrate solely on learning to get good at playing the morin huur.Sometimes I fear I’m too old to get really good, but goddamnit, I’m giving it my all.

S.S.
One of your songs is called Gadaad Tatlaga what does it mean?

Milo:
Gadaad- In Mongolian: Foreign Tatlaga- a type of western Mongolian rhythmic melody usually used to accompany a biyelgee dance, often in imitation of a horse’s gait.

S.S.
Who writes the songs & what are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover, if any?)

Milo:
My limited little répertoire is composed of traditional Halh Mongol Urtiin Duu (long song melodies I play as instrumentals), Oirad Mongol Tatlaga (rhythmic melodies meant to accompany the western Mongolian Biyelgee dance and often in imitation of the gait horses or bactrian camels) and a few of my own and other contemporary Mongolian compositions.

S.S.
Discuss the songwriting process in detail.

Milo:
1.) Pour a shot of vodka to the brim. 2.) Slam it. 3.) Pour another shot of vodka. 4.) Slam it. 4.) Fill a large water glass with cheep beer. 5.) Nail it. 6.) Vomit. 7.) Roll and light a cigarette or spliff. 8.) Open window in front of my desk. 9.) Crudely draw a G or
treble clef on some ledger paper. 10.) Write key and time signatures, flat keys work best for the Morin Huur because it’s tuned to F-Bb (fa-si bemol). 11.) More vodka. 12.) Start playing a traditional song that I know, then another until in my drunkenness the
two become one melody. 12.) Pass out on floor. 13.) While passed out have a vision of a my long lost Oyuuntungalag, my muse from Selenge Province. 14.) Roll and light another cigarette or spliph and write out in notation what has come to me in the past 13 steps.
That’s about it.

S.S.
Who are your musical influences? (Site specific examples.)

Milo:
The musicians who I try to imitate as best I can are: on morin huur: -Ch. Batsaihan- Jaahan Sharga, Joroo Mori, an Zambuutiviin
Naran, Gandan Uuliin Tsetseg, Tsetseg Nuuriin Huvhond, Uulen Bor etc. And everything else he’s ever played esspessially his
quartets. -B. Togtohjargal- His tatlagas like: Builgan Shariin Yavdal, Jonon Har, Tahim Uul etc. -M. Bürgedbaatar- His strong aggressive playing style, his version of Uyahan Zambuutiviin Naran -G. Muuhai- His amazing bowing technique, his tatlagas like Shuvtardag, Tsatsal, Tooraan Tsagaan, Joroo Mori etc. -Ts. Pürevhüü- His cold, perfect and almost mechanical finger and bowing technique as best heard in Ikeliin Egshig Nutag, Morin Tövörgöön, Ardiin Ayalguu and his version of Camile Saint Saëns’ The Swan. He’s Mongolia’s Ice-Man, so cold, so perfect! Other influences on my music: -Niccolo Paganini- His long sexy fingers. -Albert King- His pipes. -Elmore James- His suits -Bill Drummond- The fact that he burnt £1,000,000 and is Scottish. -Howlin’ Wolf- His simplicity, and the fact that he’s a demigod. -Charley Patton- His tenacious ability to survive a slit throat. -Lee Hazlewood- The Nights, Summer Wine The Soviet Union (to be honest I hate the USSR most of the time, unless I’m pissed at some one. But the USSR did make Mongolia and consequently the morin huur what it is today; corrupt but beautiful.) Really though my late father is my greatest influence.

S.S.
Have you had any challenges? How did you over come them?

Milo:
Plenty of them. Namely the fact that I live on fucking Martha’s fucking Vineyard and I want to go back to Mongolia. We’ll see.

S.S.
Have you made any previous recordings? (What type of recording process did you use/prefer? Who produced your recording?)

Milo:
I prefer when Matthew Cullen does the recording because he know his shit. I’ve messed around with four track too.

S.S.
Where are some of your favorite places to play, why?

Milo:
My room is nice when I’m alone because I’m less likely to make a mistake when I’m playing just for myself. The National State Opera House in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia because I could literally fuck up left and right and the audience would clap and cheer regardless. And because the building is pink, it takes a lot of pride to paint your National Opera House pink.

S.S.
Where can we find you on the internet?

Milo:
Facebook, under Milo Silva. That’s all. Photographs by Angel Russell

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