Interview with Ethan Holzman of Dengue Fever

Great
to see the band is coming back to Cambodia again. Can you give us a
rundown of the tour this year. Where will you play? Will you be joined
by local performers like last time? What’s the plan? 
We fly out of Los Angeles on May 29th.  Once
we land in Phnom Penh we have the afternoon off to acclimate to the
time change, warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels.  The
following day we will be performing at the FCC in Phnom Penh (May
31).  Then we have an early morning drive up to Siem Reap.  We will
perform at the FCC in Siem Reap (June 1st). I’m not sure who
we are playing with.  We always like to collaborate with local Khmer
artists.  Last year we played with Nimol’s brothers band Animation.  We
also had a loose jam with Master Kong Nai before our set in Phnom Penh. Also on June 5th we will play on Diamond Island at the MEMORY! International Film Heritage Festival, and on June 7th in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam at Cargo Bar@ Q4. 
  
The
band recently played in New York at the ‘Season of Cambodia Festival
2013’. Did the band enjoy the festival? Did you get a chance to see,
meet and play with some of the other performers? If so – what was your
impression?
Yes,
New York was a blast.  The club was packed with lots of our friends
from Cambodia, the US, and even the UK.  It was great to catch up with
everybody.  So many creative folks like filmmaker Davy Chou, artists
Kanitha Tith and Linda Saphan. Bochan performed before us and sounded great!  I liked her version of ‘Chnam Oun Dop Pram Muy’.
You
have collaborated with Peter Gabriel, Arn Chhorn Pond and the Cambodian
Living Arts before. Can you tell us more about the relationship – how
it got started and do you have any more projects on the drawing board?
When
Dengue Fever first toured in Cambodia, back in 2005, we met up with
Dickon Verey, who is now SEA Producer.  He introduced us to Cambodian
Living Arts by having us meet a group of kids in the former Bassac
Apartments.  Since then we have had many great work shops, fund raisers,
and concerts to help the organization. 
Peter
Gabriel was kind enough to invite us to stay at his recording studios
in Bath, England.  He also gave us the freedom to use any of his
keyboards and synths from his personal recording studio.  That was when
we recorded ‘In the Ley Lines’ which we just re-released a few months
back.  We spent about two weeks making music and recording whatever we
felt like.  It was pretty incredible.  Then he asked us to play his
private party held in the Big Room (Real World recording studios), which
is like being aboard the Starship Enterprise.
Future plans are to keep recording and tour Europe when we retrun from South East Asia.  Also a show in Siberia late August.
Recording with Peter Gabrielle (Photo Credit: York Tillyer)
I
hear the band will be working on a new album later this year. There
have been a number of local / international performers from Cambodia
that have recorded in Cambodia and then having the mixing and production
completed in a more renowned studio. Has Dengue Fever given any
consideration to doing something similar and then also collaborating
with some of the local performers?
For
sure.  We met some of the best musicians on our last trip to
Battambang.  They are part of the Phare Ponleu Selpak- Battambang
Circus.  We hope to record and play more music with them in the future. 
Initially
the band caught the ear of a wide audience by playing music from the
Golden Era of Cambodian music. Now the band has it’s own unique sound
and flavour. The band is managing the capture the imagination of an
expanding audience with their totally cool sound that continues to
develop and by playing host to a series of soundtracks – such as in City of Ghosts, The Hangover 2, Sanchez Gets High and True Blood.  Can you give us any new insight in to what might be expected on the new album? Which direction is the band taking?
We
really enjoy scoring music for films/TV/commercials.  We are writing
and recording new songs and will release them on our new label Tuk Tuk
Records soon.  I’d say our direction is finding our natural strengths
and not forcing anything to happen.
After
you leave Cambodia you will be playing in Ho Chi Minh city with Little
Barrie at the Q4 Event Space. Have you played there before? Have you
teamed up with Little Barrie previously? Are you looking forward to it?
We love playing in Vietnam.  We’ve played in Ho Chi Minh city before but I’m not sure of the club or bands we played with. 
Finally,
when do expect to return to the Cambodia? Leng Pleng is looking at
organizing another music festival in Battambang, Mondolkirri or again in
Kampot after their very successful Kampot River Music Festival of 2011. Are you guys interested in being part of that?
We
are looking forward to this trip.  Yes we are always interested in
coming back and playing music in Cambodia.  It was the country that
inspired the band to form and bringing our music back to the motherland
always feels like the right thing to do.