“The music created in Cambodia in the 1960s-1975 stands alone. Working in record shops people would say, "you should check out Cambodian music from the 1960s" but I didn't take the plunge until I came to Cambodia for the first time at the end of 2012. I had a friend living in Phnom Penh who told me where I could get a download, so off we trotted to boom boom records to get that first taste. My husband and I played the music constantly, repeatedly, for months. We were hooked, and the more I listened to this music the more I wanted to know about it. Who were these singers, these musicians? Where did these musical influences come from? What instruments were they playing? What were their stories? I wish that a Cambodian had written this book (with an English translation also available to answer my burning questions) rather than someone like me who has not grown up around this music, who does not have it inherently in their blood, who does not speak the language, and however loves it all the same. I have been fortunate that my passion has been received well by the people I have interviewed. As to whether they think I'm crazy, that is for them to say!” READ MORE
- Dee Peyok, Author.
Dee Peyok has spent the last six months travelling around the kingdom researching a new book about the 'Golden Age' of Cambodian rock'n'roll music. Read the full Leng Pleng Q&A with Dee Peyok here. Also check out Dee's travel blog, 6 Months in Phnom Penh, which relates some of her experiences in Cambodia.
Experience Cambodia's foremost modern proponents of the sounds of the 'Golden Age' at Latin Quarter in Phnom Penh this Saturday. The Cambodian Space Project seems to be gathering an unstoppable momentum right now with several exciting projects all bubbling up. The band's international status was cemented this year by the success of lead singer Srey Channty's stunning collaboration with Australian hip-hop group Astronomy Class. Cambodian Space Project themselves travelled to Detroit to record their fourth studio album with legendary U.S. producer Jim Diamond. The eagerly-anticipated result, entitled 'Electric Blue Boogaloo', will soon be released. German documentary film-maker Marc Eberle is also preparing his full-length feature about the band, 'Not Easy Rock'n'Roll', for screening on Australian television.
|The Cambodian Space Project - pic: Jeremie Montessuis|
More exciting happenings are taking place in leafy Kampot at time of writing, as the Space Project continue to work on Hanuman Spaceman - 'a psychedelic rock opera conceived by The Cambodian Space Project in partnership with Sydney based producer and director team Harley Stumm (Intimate Spectacle) and Carlos Gomes (Theatre Kantanka) [CSP Facebook]. The production is set to travel internationally in 2015 and will be receiving it's world première performance at Kampot Traditional Music School on October 31st and November 1st . As if that were not enough to look forward to, Space-Commander Julien Poulson also let Leng Pleng know that the band are confirmed for some high-profile European festival dates next year. In the meantime, you can catch some signature psychedelic space-rock sounds right here in Phnom Penh this Saturday. Read more about the Cambodian Space Project in this great article written by Julien for Leng Pleng.
Several local Phnom Penh musicians will gather together for a good cause at Aquarium Bar this Sunday evening. Nas Bossalover, Unity, Lisa Concepion, Unity, and Bacano are performing to raise money for a small village in Phnom Kulen, near Siem Reap. Organiser Nas Bossalover told Leng Pleng that proceeds from ticket sales ($3) and donations will go directly towards building a statue in the village temple ('Wat Allong Thom') and purchasing foods and fabrics for the villagers. Aquarium Bar is a small and intimate venue and the performers are bound to create a fun and convivial atmosphere. Nas Bossalover himself is an especially interesting performer with a very sweet voice and groovy bossa-nova guitar style. He also accompanies himself with an uncanny 'mouth trumpet'.
If I were an optimist then I would point to the huge number of gigs taking place across Phnom Penh this weekend and assert that we are nearing the end of 'low season'. I would further assert that we can look forward to several months of great happenings and events. Such upbeat assertions would be quite premature were it not for the fact that I am aware of a number of really special music gigs and festivals scheduled to take place in Cambodia in the coming months. As always – watch this space for more details. In the meantime, I will refrain from getting too excited until we have got past the annual 'let's all put a gig on the same night for no good reason' festival known as Halloween. I will also wait until after the first annual Water Festival celebrations in Phnom Penh since 2010.
As for this weekend, it would be chaste of me not to mention a few more notable gigs taking place in the capital city of Cambodia. Nola Blues Band is a Saigon-based outfit that is well-renowned in Vietnam for their lively blues jams. Claude Spiese (vocals, harmonica), Gary Giss (drums) and Alex Thien (bass) visit Sharky Bar this Friday and are enlisting local Phnom Penh musician Pavel 'zargz' Ramirez for lead guitar duties.
The party starts early at Champa Lodge in Kampot on Saturday with The Kampot Playboys rocking their Khmer-rock fusion and Kumar Dey Et providing traditional Khmer music. The event is a birthday party for local expat 'Donkey Dave' and should be a busy one. In Phnom Penh on Saturday a busy gig schedule sees Sangvar Day making a comeback gig at Equinox while Bacano get ready to rock the riverside at the FCC. The heavy-rock quartet Sangvar Day have been busy recording six tracks for their very first studio EP (keep an eye on Leng Pleng for the low-down), while upbeat Latin-rock lovers Bacano welcome their new star bass player Ten.
Over at Code Red on Saturday, the Kimchi Collective of DJs celebrate their 3rd birthday with a special event featuring a performance from Singaporean star Vandetta. This talented singer recorded her debut EP in Los Angeles in 2011, since performing alongside dance music acts of the calibre of Four Tet and Afrika Hitech. Check out the video below.
Whichever gigs you choose to enjoy this weekend, stay safe out there and... see you around the traps!
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