A number of music events this week show that while the Cambodian alternative music scene may ever be small, it is always interesting. While an intriguing musical visitor marks his first visit to The Kingdom, our more permanent musical residents continue to come up with extremely cool gigs. Enjoy!
“My story is of an indie musician travelling, trying to make things work. Hustling every day and night, trying to play original songs in places I have never been to. Not a story of a signed musician. Serendipity plays a big part in it.
I’ve been performing as a singer-songwriter, playing original music, for six years. In Malaysia, venues have cropped up for artists to play original, English-language songs. Merdekarya in Petaling Jaya [in Kuala Lumpur] was the first. It’s about breaking the cycle… stop playing covers, start playing originals. I believe everyone can be original it’s just a matter of harnessing it. Now in Malaysia, all the smaller cities are starting to pick this up… venues have opened up in Penang, Kuching… indie festivals. We didn’t get to this point overnight, it took many many years. In Kuala Lumpur [now] there are venues like Gaslight, W_are_house, BoBo KL. It’s a totally different scene.
…Promoting the EP in Cambodia, that is the plan for this tour. Most recently the music video for a song called ‘Deaf Ears’ was launched. In Malaysian Culture, Wayang Kulit, translated as ‘skin cinema’, uses traditional puppets made of cowhide. I had an idea : why don’t we do shadow puppetry for this video? …without realising it’s a South-East Asian thing. Now I’m coming to Cambodia. Serendipity… gluing things together without me planning it.”
CLICK HERE to read the full interview with Hameer Zawawi. The singer-songwriter from Malaysia will be appearing tonight (Thursday) and on Friday at The Harbour in Siem Reap before travelling to Phnom Penh for gigs at Counterspace (Java Creative) Theater and Top Banana. Zawawi will also perform in Kampot at Karma Traders this coming Tuesday.
Phka Kabass Band might be described as a miniature version of Kok Thlok – the long-running French-Cambodian collective of musicians merging traditional tro and roneat with rock’n’roll instrumentation. On Friday a stripped-down trio (guitar/drums/vocals) will visit Tacos Kokopelli for a lively session of ‘Golden Era’ Cambodian sounds. Tacos is thriving as one of the most bijou of city music venues, with a popular acoustic open mic hosted each Sunday by Scott Bywater.
DJ Mute Speaker occupies a unique place in the Cambodian alternative music landscape, as both a room-rocking DJ and a producer of intriguing original music that samples traditional Cambodian instruments. In an intriguing matchup, Mute Speaker will join with Latin percussion expert Gunther Hofmans for a decks-and-djembe session at Bouchon in Phnom Penh this Saturday night. Check out the sounds of DJ Mute Speaker via bandcamp.
Cambodian pop star and ambassador for new music talent program The Sound Initiative Laura Mam recently gave a talk for a TedX event held in Phnom Penh. Check out the video link below to find out what Laura had to say about original music in Cambodia and how the familiar narrative might be about to change:
Whatever you’re up to over the next few days, stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!