Zsa Zsa Exactly
Artist/Band: Rogier van den Brink
This album was recorded in Mongolia and features some of the finest local musicians: Bayartsetseg, Baidrag, Atka, Onon, Galbadrakh, Monhsahan, Shine-Od, Narantuya, Delgermaa, Sanjaadorj, Munkhorgil, Tserenbyamba, Buyantogtoh, and Sukhbataar. And I might have missed a few. Apologies.
Most songs were arranged and recorded by Baidrag. Reghu did the final mixing of all but one song. Onon arranged two songs, and Narka and Dashka recorded and mixed Eagle Dreams.
This adventure started when my friend, Bayartsogt, the then Minister of Finance of Mongolia, caught me with a guitar on my back at the airport. "Do you have a song to record?", he asked. "Sure", I joked. In a very "reach for the sky" Mongolian attitude, he then threw me in a studio with some of the best musicians around. And so I had to start composing.
Please enjoy the craftsmanship of the Mongolians. They are some of the most creative and expressive people I have ever met. I also hope you appreciate their mesmerizing traditional singing which I used on a number of songs.
I thank all of them. But there are three in particular. We spent fantastic times together creating music. Bayartsetseg, my muse; Baidrag, my musical soul mate; and Reghu, my friend and sound perfectionist. It has been an unbelievable privilege working with them.
The proceeds of the first song that we recorded, Eagle Dreams, went to an old man, a member of the reindeer people (Tsaatan). They live high up in the taiga of Mongolia. When I met him, his reindeer camp had just been completely destroyed by the "ninja" miners.
Which brings me to another good friend, Hamid Sardar, the "Indiana Jones" of East Asia. The eagle picture is his. He is an amazing photographer, cinematographer, anthropologist, Buddhist, explorer and bon vivant. My family went on two horseback expeditions with him. We will for always remember his stories: the intellectual, the magical and the funny ones.
Finally, what's with the title, Zsa Zsa Exactly? Baidrag and I would sit together to add tracks, arrange and listen to them. And because of the language barrier, we didn't say a lot. But when it sounded right, he would say "zsa zsa" and I would say "exactly". That's it!
Since I am living in the Philippines now, the proceeds of the album go to the relief and reconstruction efforts of the victims of super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The NGO I have selected (based on advice of my colleagues and counterparts in government) is Community and Family Services International. Check out their vision and programs here: