The Pchum Ben holiday invariably marks the beginning of the end of the rainy season in Cambodia and a chance for a bit of a ‘breather’ from all this heat and humidity. Ted, Timothy, Rybka and myself continue to toil away for the time being, here in the backstreets of Phnom Penh, to bring you the latest Leng Pleng gig guide and recommendations. This week and next week’s edition will see something of a depleted gig calendar on account of the holidays but, as you know, there is always something very cool happening on the Cambodian music scene.
Vartey Ganiva is one of a handful of young Cambodian performers carving herself a niche outside of the well-worn path of entertainment production house contracts (Town, Hang Meas), telecom sponsorship deals (Smart, Cellcard) and attendant appearances on live television and huge outdoor shows sponsored by beer companies. The outspoken Vartey does not fit into the usual archetype of shiny, polished Khmer pop singer. Although she also sings cover material ranging from tried-and-trusted ‘Golden Era’ classics all the way through to modern-day Western pop, Ganiva is slowly building a repertoire of original songs that deal with issues such as womanhood, domestic violence and social problems… and as you will see from the video below, she is not afraid to voice her opinion. This refreshing attitude runs contrary to the traditional ‘Chbab Srey’ code of conduct for women in Cambodian society.
Vartey and guitarist Sok Vichey will be appearing at Acoustic Fridays at Farm to Table this Friday night. If you have already seen Vartey Ganiva singing with her full-on punk band at this year’s Golden Street festival or, more recently, at Alchemy, Friday’s session will present a chance to see a different side of this emerging Cambodian star.
Phnom Penh expat living legend Scott Bywater has been busy putting the finishing touches to From Shore to Shore – a (very) long-awaited solo album comprising thirteen of his finest compositions of the past ten years. The innumerous threads of poetry and lyrics spun by Tasmanian wordsmith Bywater have been intertwined with the colourful personalities, imagery and locations of his adopted hometown of Phnom Penh since 2008. The results range from the humorous (Phnom Penh Driving School, The Long Division), to the heavily-rocking (The Love Bank, Toothpaste and Gin), to the heart-wrenching (Guernsey Girl, Lost Along The Way). At time of writing, various knob-twiddlers are mixing the album in preparation for an October release. Much more From Shore to Shore news to come. In the meantime, check out this short video interview posted on www.Scoddy.net and check out Bywater live and acoustic this Friday night at Tacos Kokopelli in Phnom Penh .
Tusk House will be continuing their re-opening celebrations with a three-day weekend of music – kicking off on Friday with Robin Narciso and Jamie Tan and ramping up for the return of Hypnotic Fist Technique on Saturday night. A Sunday reggae pool party with Kaztet D and friends should round things off nicely. Summertime personnel absences have necessitated a slightly more ‘compact’ line-up for HFT, with Initial G assuming all MC duties (Mike Dynamo is currently in the U.S.) and the returning Supreme Premium D stepping up to play not one, not two… but at least three instruments to ensure that the block-rocking ‘live hip-hop’ fusion sound of the band is fully present and correct at Tusk. Bandleader and MC Intital G told us how the band have been getting back into the swing of things following their recent break:
“Practices for the show have been drastically different from when we were starting out last year because after this year’s hiatus, all the returning members sank back into the musical magic seamlessly. Unfulfilled wish lists from last year’s set lists… are being revisited and reinvented, pure HFT style.
We plan on retiring most if not all of our originals from last year until we release the Volume 1 or Year 1 album and are constantly striving to produce more and more originals… We are currently signed on to the Diamond Moon Festival on the 25th of November at Diamond Island and we hope to have an even more impressive set list by then compared to our set list for Saturday night. The hiatus has made all the hearts of the members grow fonder and has made us return with renewed zeal and vigor that made HFT what it was in the first place. We miss our Phnom Penh Party Rocking crowds as well and hope to get reacquainted with some familiar as well as new faces.”
-GAURAV ‘INITIAL G’ – HYPNOTIC FIST TECHNIQUE
In a quick missive from the continuing adventures of The Cambodian Space Project, it appears that the team managed to travail the usual round of last-minute visa applications and flight scheduling to successfully complete their mission to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington D.C.! Check out their complete performance via the Kennedy Center Youtube channel :
Whatever you’re up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!