Hennessy Artistry kicked off Cambodia's second annual club series earlier this month, flying in DJs from all over Asia for gigs at some of the capital's hottest nightclubs
The Phnom Penh club scene is receiving several shots of international talent, care of Hennessy Artistry, which launched the Kingdom’s second annual “Global Art of Mixing” series earlier this month. From October 6 to November 26, renowned female DJs from across Asia are spinning tracks at Elements Club and Lounge, Star Club, Sky Club, Emerald, and Spark Entertainment Center. And on December 2, Hennessy Artistry will be bringing in six performers to play with two local singers and dancers for a grand finale at Spark, which the company promises will be “a stunning showcase of collaborative performances, visual stimulations and new digital interactions.”
The DJs are flying in from China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, and gigs take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.
Hennessy Artistry was launched in 2006, but this is only the second time the program has run in Cambodia – and it's the first time the DJs have been exclusively female.
A Hennessy Artistry spokesperson said that the series is designed to broaden the taste of local clubbers, and also to remind people that Hennessy shouldn't just be associated with old, white industry barons swilling high class cognac in their penthouse swivel chairs.
"The global art of mixing is about blending in music, performance, art, and talents with Hennessy drinks," said the spokesperson. "In Cambodia there's an emerging market for music; it's not a mature market.
Sometimes what we give them might be too beyond the times for Cambodia. So we have to find people who can truly bring the music to send a message to the Cambodian scene. Trance music is not moving here! You can't give trance music to Cambodians, they don't know what it is.
"We have an event management company we closely work with to select talent in the Asian region which we feel can bring music that the audiences can relate to. Jacqueline is an impressive one, because she went to DJ school, she won an Indonesian DJ competition, and I saw clips of the music she played: house music, techno, which Cambodians can enjoy and relate to."
DJ Jacqueline from Indonesia took to the tables last weekend. The young DJ has won awards for her spinning and is also famous for her habit of donning fancy fedoras during her performances.
DJ Jacqueline told 7Days that she was impressed with the Cambodian club scene, though she did add that there is room for improvement.
"With the club scene here, the sound systems are good, and while the clubs are small I'm surprised at the size of the crowds. In Indonesia, the clubs are larger and people party till 4am. Here, it's not really like that yet.
"House and R&B are what the crowds like here. I did try trance-progressive music last year, but I realised the crowd was not moving and I stressed out and thought 'What's happening?' So I played R&B and House again and people started moving again. My biggest fear is that no one will dance."
It's not the first time that the dance floor has turned hostile on her. When asked about the strangest performance she's played, DJ Jacqueline said, "I was playing at an Indonesian city once and spinning progressive trance, but the DJ before me was playing rap. So when I took over, the crowd started screaming and throwing bottles. I had to duck behind the DJ booth and find a rap CD to appease the crowd."
This weekend, DJ Eva T from Malaysia, proclaimed by the press as the “R&B Queen” and the “Diva of the South”, will be hitting the clubs to spin her signature mix of R&B mixed with electro house. The diva was voted the best new DJ by Juice Malaysia last year, and has played in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia.
The following weekend, Japanese artists DJ Izumi and DJ Junko will hit town. DJ Izumi has been featured on MTV Japan and proudly announces that she has an “enormous influence on girls club freaks”, while DJ Junko incorporates a “masculine edge” to her performance, and cites Tupac as a formative influence.
From November 17 to 19, DJ Nicole Chen takes the limelight. The model and 2007 Miss Earth Singapore learned the art of the turntable in Melbourne, and is famous for her “energetic and electrifying up-tempo electro-house/dirty-dutch sets.”
And the final act before the grand December 2 party is DJ Kim Anh, a Vietnamese performer based in LA. In the states, DJ Kim Anh is best known as the mastermind behind “Booby Trap”, a weekly girls-only party she described to Go Magazine as “a rebel response to mainstream nightlife for women.”