Five years ago, there wasn’t much to say about the music scene in Siem Reap except that it was extremely quiet. Things have improved a little: now there are gigs each week and a locally based DJ collective.
And next week the popular Sky River is hosting its first reggae and dub festival. The stars of the admittedly short line-up are Ti Rat and Rouge Reggae – the most famous reggae band on the Indian Ocean’s Reunion Island, according to the festival’s MC, Kaztet Dee.
It’s a family affair at Rouge Reggae, with Ti Rat’s wife on piano and sons on drums and trombone.
They’re here thanks to a meeting with Cambodia band Dub Addiction at a festival in Reunion Island last year. Dub Addiction will also be playing the festival, with their own blend of reggae, ragga and ambient dub, with plenty of Khmer influences.
Both nights will kick off with rock performances by the Phnom Penh-based band Milo, while Kaztet Dee will be on the decks.
“I’ll be playing roots reggae in the beginning, with some digital and old school ragamuffin in between the bands,” he said. “I might make it a little heavier at the end with some jungle drum n bass.”
This is the first festival launched by Sky River, which opened its doors just two months ago. Their aim is that the event should become an annual feature on Siem Reap’s musical calendar.
“We have bigger ambitions for next year,” said Jean-Loïc Tixier-Vignancour, manager of Sky River. “We would definitely like to bring in more bands that people have never seen in Siem Reap before.”
The festival runs over two nights, on January 12 and 13. Tickets for both nights are $3. Shows start at 9pm.