… more like a working holiday at best…
A little while back, an email arrived in my intray address-lined ‘spacemonkey’ and subject-lined ‘”Motown to the Mekong” Invitation to Cambodia’. It was from Julien Poulson, who I’d met a year or so previously at a Melbourne gig by his band fronted by the bewitching Srey Channthy, the fabulous Cambodian Space Project, and he was wondering if I’d like to come over to Khmer at his behest, to go on the road with the band, play a role akin to writer-in-residence on a tour-cum-general journey of discovery going under the working banner of ‘Motown to the Mekong’ and designed to result in – what? certainly a new album by the CSP, to be produced by Jim Diamond, from Detroit, who like me would also be on board the ‘boogaloo bus’, and maybe also a film, or a book, stageplay, or artworks, since the Sticky Fingers screenprinting studio is part of the burgeoning SpaceFourZero gallery/shop-cum-agency/empire that the expat Tasmanian Poulson oversees out of Phnom Penh with his American partner Tony Lefferts – to all of which I said, “Wow!”
And then said again “wow-wow-wow!” Which meant, Yes, I’d love to come....
And so on Friday April 29, I fly out of Sydney destined for Phnom Penh, thanks greatly to the generosity of the US Embassy there. I’m still not exactly quite sure what’s going to unfold. Everyone over there keeps telling me, Anything could happen – it’s Cambodia! Either way, it will explore the cross-cultural links and contribute to the on-going rebirth of Cambodian go-go rock'n'roll that's been growing in the wake of Western fusion bands like not only the CSP but also LA's Dengue Fever, and the 2014 documentary film Don't Think I've Forgotten.
So, starting on Saturday afternoon, there will be the opening of a joint exhibition of artworks from Sticky Fingers and a studio from Shanghai called Idle Beats. As much as the Cambodian Space Project’s music it was their look and the design of their packaging and posters, and the prints of the affiliated Sticky Fingers studio, that drew me in – the three artifacts repreoduced here are a small indication of their embarrassment of riches – and then when I looked at some of the output of Idle Beats I was just as impressed, so this show is an exciting prospect indeed. Then on the Saturday night, the CSP launch their May tour of Cambodia with their first local gig of the year, at the Exchange in Phnom Penh.
What follows will be 10 days full of gigs, workshops, receptions, forums, research and, hopefully, just a bit of relaxation... Read a preview article in the Cambodia Daily here...