arrived in Phnom Penh in 2008 to work for the United Nations. He was looking for a change of scene after growing tired of working around the clock running a live music bar in his hometown of Hobart, Tasmania. Scott found a fledgling expat music community that would eventually become the busy Phnom Penh scene of today. Along the way he became an integral part of several fantastic bands, including the Lazy Jazz Drunks and the Cambodian Space Project, before spreading his wings as a solo artist and poet. ‘Scoddy’ found time to sit down with Jack Diamond (over a few beers) and tell him how it happened.
MUSIC SCENE? WHAT MUSIC
multi-instrumentalist Dan was called, and we formed a duo, D’Sco: The Geckos of Love, and we played at Revolution, Touk Bar, the Chinese House, Zen Bar. Eventually we started dabbling with some other folks as well, such as Melanie [Brew] and Jet [Odrerir], the Hellhounds, and strangers passing through. Around this time I discovered to my surprise that I could play the drums, having the epiphany that I was left-handed… so Dan and I turned into a kind of rhythm section for hire.
|Photo: Steve Goodman|
drew together a raggle-taggle crew, practiced through Pchum Ben, and as the ‘Magical Mystery Tourists’ performed at The Cavern on 104 Street, so full that the audience were buying beer next door and across the street and coming back. All pretty rough, but we got through somehow.
first time in a band as a drummer, and I learned a lot about the importance of just keeping time and occasionally directing traffic. Also I knew almost all the words, and could follow where we were in the songs. My clearest memory of Ian in those days was when someone stole his lyrics folder off the stage during a song, and he was forced to improvise – brilliantly. It wasn’t enough to change his habits though.
|Photo: Steve Goodman|
Then a trip to Kampot for recording at Bodhi Villa. I remember already being interviewed by somebody on the phone as we were going to Kampot, because it was creating some sort of a buzz that we were doing this
golden era stuff, this was at a time when you didn’t hear it at all. You would hear it in cafes and bars and so on but no-one was actually out playing it.
on sax (now plays slide guitar with Krom). Ratha playing congas, I was playing bass, Davis was playing drums, Ken was on harmonica, a fairly motley crew. On Boxing Day the cruise on the river, hosted by The Alley Cat. I don’t think we even had a bass player that day. If you google Cambodian Space Project, that’s the thing that comes up first: a video Julien cut from some footage a friend took. I think we still only had half a dozen songs.
SPACE SHUTTLE LAUNCHThen Gildas (Mekong Pirates) appeared, and then Irene, both on guitar. There was a gig at Meta House when Bong Sak shows up at Chantthy’s invitation, and was immediately dubbed Charlie Wat Phnom; he got on and played a few and suddenly became the drummer. Dan came back from a holiday in Sweden and took the bass. Bunhong Cheak [Phnom Penh Hippie Orchestra, Klezbodians] playing clarinet. Gaeten Crepsel playing accordion.There were a few gigs where it started to really rise up. It’s January  now. The third anniversary party for Meta House saw the debut of the later famous pink jacket. The trip to Chantthy’s village in Prey Veng. The Equinox third birthday party, downstairs and spilling onto the street next to where the ATM is today, an amazing gig out at Maxine’s (Snow’s Bar) for Australia Day. We went and played in Otres Beach, Siem Reap, Kep.
It got to a point where there was nothing for me to play, so I just carried equipment. There was quite a different feel to it in those days, it was band of 10 or 11 people. There was excitement, but always a little trouble around the edges: guitar is too loud, can’t hear the voice. Partly because there were too many people, partly because there were two guitars and then Julien, partly because Channthy was used to singing into Karaoke-type microphones and had no experience in projecting over a whole band. She was very shy and timid in the early days, we had to encourage her to dance, we had to encourage her to talk to the
audience. She was bit ‘what the hell is going on?’. When she was singing it was okay.
application attempts. France ensued. By the end of 2010 I was very, very tempted to run away and join the circus, throw in my job at the court and run around the world to Texas and China and who knows where… but in the end I did the Australian tour and let the party go on without me. I loved to tour, I could play every part and teach all the pick-up musicians along the way, and I had a credit card. My line was: The best thing the United Nations ever did for Cambodia was to employ me, and thereby indirectly fund the Cambodian Space Project.There’s no shortage of well-produced, interesting, well-crafted music out there, but something that has such a different immediate hook – it’s exotic, it’s exciting, it’s Cambodian, it’s pretty basic rock’n‘roll, and it stands out in some kind of way. There are people always looking for something interesting to book, and lots of people who have been won over by just hearing the band. It also had a really strong visual presence due to Julien’s graphic design skills, it does catch the eye, catch the ear. The
secret weapon on one side is Julien’s graphics and Channthy’s boundless charm and ability to win over audiences, just because she’s so fresh and friendly and has this ‘I can’t believe this is happening’ look on her face.