“A great band, a great night and sang beautifully. The band was great, raw and the guitar solos leapt out!” Nick Cave
“A rousing, quirky reminder of the pre-Khmer Rouge golden era of Cambodian pop.” The Guardian
“An upbeat, unusual and accomplished, an Asian rock ‘n’ roll space odyssey indeed.” Clash
Khmer rock ‘n’ roll rock group The Cambodian Space Project (CSP) released their third album ‘Whisky Cambodia’ via Metal Postcard Records on 14th July.
Following on from ‘Not Easy Rock ‘n’ Roll’, CSP were soon heading into the recording studio with the backing of legendary Motown musician Dennis Coffey and CSP founder Julien Poulsen on production.
‘Whiskey Cambodia’ was recorded by Al Sutton (credits include Bob Seger, Hank Williams Jr, Uncle Kracker, Lynard Skynard and Loretta Lynn) and Steve Lehane at Rustbelt Studios in Michigan.
An explosion of cultures and 60s influences, the long-player is rooted in the musical history of Detroit and Cambodia; essentially a rock ‘n’ roll record with a Motown sheen where CSP’s Khmer rock and Cambodian-pop shines through.
Their all-star Motown cast includes Dennis Coffey on guitar, Phil Whitfield on keys (Dick Wagner, The Contours, Andrea Boccelli, Lauryn Hill and King Sundiata Keita), Chuck Bartels on bass (Bettye LaVette), Steve Adams on drums (Dennis Coffey Trio) and horn section Motor City Horns’ (Justin Timberlake, The Four Tops and The Temptations).
Dennis Coffey is a former member of The Funk Brothers studio band. He’s notably worked on The Temptations’ ‘Cloud Nine’, ‘Ball of Confusion’ and ‘Psychedelic Shack’. Other hit records include Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ and ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’ by Diana Ross & The Supremes.
CSP’s music is as exotic as their story. Back in 2009 Tasmanian musician Julien Poulson went into a karaoke bar in Phnom Penh having heard a lone female voice singing Peggy Lee's 'Johnny Guitar'. Impressed by the singer, Srey Thy, Poulson invited her to start a band and together they formed The Cambodian Space Project.
The group, although known for their own original material, also cover 'golden age' 60s Cambodian pop songs as a means of preserving them.
They have toured the world from Texas (including SXSW) to the UK’s End of the Road festival and have performed for the likes of Nick Cave and Hilary Clinton.
Born in the late 70s Cambodia following the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge, front woman Srey has lived in a tank and as a teenager was kidnapped where she nearly found herself in a sex trafficking ring. Since then she has become a women’s rights activist in Cambodia, speaking at events sponsored by SISHA (Anti-Human Trafficking and Exploitation Organisation). She has also helped women worldwide as a Good Will Ambassador for UN Women’s UNiTE - a campaign to stop violence against women worldwide.
CSP will feature on ‘The Rough Guide To Psychedelic Cambodia’ (World Music Network) compiled by Metal Postcard’s very own Sean Hocking which is due for release later this year. The record also includes tracks from Ros Sereysothea, Pan Ron, Yos Olarang and Dengue Fever.
They are also the subject of a commissioned documentary between the BBC and ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and will feature in John Pirozzi’s latest documentary film ‘Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten’ on the golden age of Cambodia’s lost rock ‘n’ roll.