Cambodia's Sibling Band achieves unexpected fame

Cambodia's Sibling Band achieves unexpected fame


When Heng Srey Sambath bought his son a guitar, he never imagined that music would become his family's fascination and even make them famous

Photo by: Mom Kunthear

The Sibling Band in action.

Formed at the end of 2007 as a family pastime, Dantrey Bang Phoun, or the Sibling Band, is slowly starting to make waves around Cambodia.

Heng Srey Sambath smiles as he talks about how he initially hesitated when his eldest son, 16-year-old Pis, asked him whether he could learn how to play the guitar.

"I hesitated because I had never seen my son play music before. We don't come from an artistic family, and I have never thought any of my children would become musicians," Heng Srey Sambath said.

Concerned that his son would go out on the street out of boredom, Heng Srey Sambath eventually conceded and bought his son a guitar to provide him with a worthwhile hobby.

"I bought a guitar for him to learn, and two weeks later I saw that my son was already playing the instrument very well. I also saw that my two daughters and nieces were interested and always listened when he played," he said.

Seeing his family's fascination with music, Heng Srey Sambath decided to get them all involved in the pursuit and vowed to save money in order to buy instruments for all his children.

"Initially I didn't have money for instruments, so I collected objects that they could play music on, such as cans and trays to make rhythm," he said. "My wife was against me buying any more instruments because she thought that the children would not be successful and she didn't want to waste money, but I comforted her and used my power as the head of the family to buy them," he said, adding that now his wife is happy with the family's musical progress.

I didn't have money for instruments, so i collected objects that they could play on.

Turning point

The family fortune took a turn for the better when one day Heng Srey Sambath asked a local restaurant owner whether his family could entertain customers at the restaurant by playing music and singing songs.
"On one occasion after the band finished playing, there was a musician there who was interested in them, and he said that the children could be famous if we tried to teach them more."

Heng Srey Sambath said that while he initially worried about the negative impact of fame and money on his children, he now thinks that his children will not be spoiled by success.

"I think my children will have no problems if they become famous because I have taught them that when they do something wrong they will be punished, and when they get money they have to share it," he said.

The Sibling Band has recently performed for a show on Bayon TV, and they received US$500 from Prime Minister Hun Sen after they performed twice on CTN.

They also have plans to perform in Australia in March next year, but  Heng Srey Sambath says that this still depends on their sponsors.

"Before, I would have never thought that the Sibling Band would be famous, but after the children got a good music teacher who also writes songs for them to sing, I have changed my mind," he said.

While Heng Srey Sambath hopes that one day the Sibling Band will be able to support the family, he says that he will never force the children to keep performing.

"If they want to play, I will allow them to continue, but if they don't want to play any more, I will let them give it up," he said.

"I would be very disappointed if this band did not work out. I consider this band as a diamond, and it would be a shame to lose it," Heng Srey Sambath said. "But as I am a Buddhist, I usually tell myself that nothing can last forever, so I don't think too much about losing, and while I think that this band will finish one day, I want everybody in Cambodia to remember them."

Pis, the Sibling Band leader, says he just wanted to learn how to play guitar because he wanted to be like his classmates who played the instrument.

"I never wished to be a music player or a singer. I just wanted to know how to play guitar for pleasure, but when I found a good teacher and built a band, I wanted to continue to do it," he said. "I am very happy with my band, and I never thought that it would be possible for me to perform on TV in front of an audience." 


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