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Cambodia's Golden Era of Rock n Roll

Cambodia's 'golden era' of rock n roll lasted for little more than a decade before it was tragically snuffed out by war and the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, but its legacy is enduring.

Influenced by 60s surfer rock, psychedellica, girl groups and traditional folk songs, the enormous output of music during the 1960s has never faded in popularity among Cambodians.  

Bands like the Cambodian Space Project (CSP) and Dengue Fever have helped make the music known beyond Southeast Asia, and now the feature documentary Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, unveils the fascinating story behind the golden era of rock n roll.

Directed by American John Pirozzi, the film features the singers and musicians who survived the Khmer Rouge’s brutal murder of artists – and includes some terrific archival footage of popular films and concerts.

In a separate Railway Club show for Darwin Festival, CSP front woman Srey Channthy will be singing her favourite Golden Era songs, plus originals, with band member Julien Poulson, in an acoustic set.

“Channthy is the phoenix that has literally risen out of the ashes,” says Poulson. 

“The daughter of an army tank driver who has survived the war and abject poverty, to sing her way to the world's stage with one of the most unique repertoires of folk, rock and cosmic pop.”

Based in Phnom Penh, Poulson and the band were party to much of the material and archival films used in Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten and love the film.

The most famous of the golden era singers is Sinn Sisamouth, whose smooth vocals often paired with the beautiful Ros Sereysothea for duets and “whom Prince Norodom Sihanouk named the ‘Golden Voice of Phnom Penh’," says Poulson.

“Channthy's personal favourite is (songstress) Pan Ron as her style was much more playful and risque than the others and is something that is distinctly Khmer, but clearly influenced by sixties soul and French Ye Ye Pop.”

Don't Think I've Forgotten | Mon 21 Aug | 7.30pm | Deckchair Cinema

Cambodian Space Project | Sat 12 Aug | 8pm | Railway Club 


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