Friday, June 4, 2010

"Fashion For Freedom" presents Guest Performer Cambodian American Singer BoChan

Bochan is quietly sowing the seeds of a Neo-Cambodian musical breakout movement. For years, most Cambodian music hasn't moved on from the style of the early 70s. There have been very few, if any, artists that have ventured outside of the traditional style and sound. The Cambodian Genocide during the “Killing Fields” lead to the murder of almost all of the progressive Cambodian musicians, as well as most of the poets, artists, and intellectuals. Four decades later, even in the US, Cambodians still tread lightly around the prospect of straying too far outside of the comfortable "norms" of musical expression.

In collaboration with Arlen Hart, Bochan has created a song “16” (Chnam Oun 16) that breaks out of it's traditional surf-rock timing and tempo, and is set to an uptempo dub reggae beat. The new arrangement of the song retains some of the textures and tones of the original Farfisa organ sounds. The lyrics are alternately sung in the original Khmer (Cambodian), and in English; augmented with the addition of her own verse that echoes the main theme of the song, which describes a Khmer woman coming of age. A verse by Oakland based Emcee, Raashan Ahmad of the Crown City Rockers, is interwoven into the song's structure, and brings home the final "we're not in Khmer-Kansas anymore" message to anyone who is comparing the song to the original.

Exactly how far has this song “16” strayed from the original? The story begins in the 1980s with Bochan and her family escaping Cambodia through the jungle at night, chased from the country by Khmer Rouge bullets. They immigrated to the United States in 1981 after seeking refuge in Thailand and the Philippines. Landing in NYC, they made their way to Ohio, Colorado, and finally San Francisco and Oakland. Bochan grew up singing in her father's numerous Cambodian rock bands during her family's travels around the US. That journey is alive today in the music, which has moved from rock roots to its current inception. Stepping out from the traditional style Bochan looks to enter a new musical age. Much like the girl in "16" she is coming into her own, both Khmer and American blending the best of both worlds.

Hear her single!

No comments:

Post a Comment