Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gimme danger, but a little stranger




Gimme danger, but a little stranger

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Metal band Doch Chkae record I Wanna be Your Dog at Oscar Bar. Eliah Lillis

Gimme danger, but a little stranger

Despite the late hour after a night out, before going to bed on April 7 Jason Shaw, a music producer and musician, popped on his headphones and gave the tracks he had recorded that week a listen. Every afternoon, Shaw had been going to Oscar Bar – the seedy but much loved rock venue near Wat Phnom – to record some of the country’s best-known rock, pop and hip-hop acts laying down covers of the now-70-year-old music icon Iggy Pop. He expected to do the final session, with metal band Nightmare A.D., the next day. Thrilled by the tracks he heard, Shaw finally went to bed around 2am. But in the early morning, he awoke with a start to the sound of the street.

From a balcony door into his hotel room, somebody had entered the room and stolen everything: the instruments, laptop and mixing equipment. Most importantly, the hard drive – on which every recording was backed up – was gone.

The Angkor Pop project – the brainchild of Julien Poulson from Cambodian Space Project – was unpredictable from the start. There is no obvious reason for a group of Cambodian bands to record a set of Iggy Pop covers for a compilation album. But Poulson noticed that Iggy Pop had been playing their music on his BBC radio program, so he got in touch with his management about potentially coming to Cambodia for a pop art festival later in the year. From there, the idea surfaced to get a bunch of bands together for a tribute album, and to have the Space Project work with Iggy Pop directly on an original song.

Before long, 12 acts had signed up for the project, including Phnom Skor, Kampot Playboys, Doch Chkae, Bokor Mountain Magic Band, Professor Kinski, MC Lisha and Miss Sarawan. Iggy Pop has little reach in the Kingdom, and the musicians had never heard of him.

“Most of them went off to listen to his whole back catalogue and they came back with the songs they wanted to do,” Shaw says. For some bands, the choice was easy – metal band Doch Chkae, whose name means “Like a dog”, chose I Wanna be Your Dog, sung all in Khmer.

But, with the recordings stolen, the project was in jeopardy. After getting the police involved, reviewing the camera footage and putting together a reward, Shaw and a friend did their own investigating.

“We went out and started to go through the clubs, all the [hostess] bars, [to] all the tuk-tuk drivers,” he says. “Deep into the underground to see if anybody had heard of this stuff.” Eventually, they got a call from one of the tuk-tuk drivers. The hard drive had been found and could be theirs for $350. “We went and met him, one of us went into the toilet and checked on the computer, saw that it had all the files and was the actual drive,” he says. “We lost everything else but we got the music.”

Despite the financial hit, there is a silver-lining to the experience: punk rock credibility.

“Not only will it be a good record, it’s going to have a bit of hardship in it,” he says.

The Angkor Pop compilation is being mixed, with a tentative fall release date. It will be released on the ABC Music label. For more details, visit Cambodianspaceproject.org.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Kingdom one of safest to visit in Covid-19 era’

    The Ministry of Tourism on January 12 proclaimed Cambodia as one of the safest countries to visit in light of the Kingdom having been ranked number one in the world by the Senegalese Economic Prospective Bureau for its success in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In rankings

  • Kingdom accepts Chinese vaccine, PM first to get jab

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said China would offer Cambodia an immediate donation of one million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by the Sinopharm company. In an audio message addressing the public on the night of January 15, he said Cambodia has accepted the offer and

  • Reeling in Cambodia’s real estate sector

    A new norm sets the scene but risks continue to play out in the background A cold wind sweeps through the streets of Boeung Trabek on an early January morning as buyers and traders engage in commerce under bright blue skies. From a distance, the

  • PM asks India for vaccine help

    Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking assistance from India for the provision of Covid-19 vaccines as the country has produced its own vaccine which is scheduled to be rolled out to more than 300 million Indians this year. The request was made during his meeting with

  • Cambodia, India agree to start direct flights, tourism exchanges

    Cambodia and India have agreed to start direct flight connections and promote closer tourism exchanges and cooperation in all areas after the Covid-19 saga comes to a close. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism Thong Khon and newly-minted Indian

  • Plastic-to-rice initiative transforms waste into bricks

    Volunteers in Kampong Khlaing commune of Siem Reap province’s Sotr Nikum district have been collecting plastic waste to use as a raw material for the production of bricks and clemence tiles. The volunteers are hoping that, in addition to helping clean up the environment,