Not many Phnom Penh bands can claim to have had their first gig in Hanoi. The Riel Capital formed through a response to the observation that Asia is full of Irish bars but there seem to be no Irish bands in Asia, and when members of the band went to Vietnam with Cambodian Gaelic football club Cairde Khmer to compete in the South Asian Gaelic Games earlier this year they took the opportunity to make their debut. Since then they’ve played a handful of gigs back in Phnom Penh while expanding their repertoire and developing their sound. Leng Pleng had the chance this week to have a conversation with singer Tina about the band.
The name, she explains, is a reference to her home city of Cork, which is referred to as the real capital of Ireland (on the basis that Dublin is no more Ireland than Paris is France or New York City is the USA – or, indeed, Phnom Penh is Cambodia), with the Cambodian pun added for local flavour.
The fundamental commitment is to Irish music – trying to balance a deep love of sad and traditional songs with more upbeat and recognisable material from contemporary Irish acts. With two members of Phnom Penh all-original indie band The Goldilocks Zone as singers, some of their songs are included, and Tina is also a songwriter. Plans are to build more of their own compositions into the mix, and to consolidate the new line up – as ever, the transitory nature of the expat population keeps the band changing.
If you’re in the mood to dance a jig or cry into your beer, The Riel Capital will play Farm to Table on Friday 23 from 6.30 pm.
Returning to Phnom Penh stages this weekend is Vibratone, the much loved all-original reggae band. Founder and bass player Julian talked excitedly to Leng Pleng about the latest formation. Fans of Vibratone will be delighted to know that the current band boasts not only the classic line up singer and songwriter Maia Doikno but also Christina Limmi from last year’s iteration, which means two voices and two contrasting songwriting styles.
Rounding out the combo are James Adams on drums, Mirab Babaian on keyboards, and multi-instrumentalist Jan Mueller on guitar. It’s still a little fresh – they’ve been rehearsing for a month and a half – but the urgency to play again has driven them on.
If Julian’s passionate declarations are anything to go by, their return on Saturday 24 at Alchemy will be well worth getting along to. You can also check out their album Phnom Penh Reggae, recorded in 2017 by the classic line up before their untimely hiatus.