Well here we are! 2021 and let’s hope it’s a great year ahead.
These last few months have been a hugely productive time for my own work towards building a recording studio in Cambodia and getting set to launch a dedication record label to compliment the studio and allow me to get back to focusing on some of the things I love the best – making records! and across the coming months, I’ll be looking forward to launching both the Yellow Sub Studios at Fish Island Community Arts Centre in Kampot, Cambodia while, over here in Sydney, Australia, launching our label Fish Island Records. The FIR label sets sail with a live launch coming up at Good Space in Sydney this March and this means we’ll have a whole bunch of goodies to get down to business with – not least, new pressings of The Cambodian Space Project, some super cool mech including the very popular Fish Island Records debut T-Shirt (pictured), lots of exciting remixes and especially the new album Tim Hagan aka DJ Jonah is assembling with our Yellow Sub team.
First vinyl record pressed since Pol Pot
It’s now 10 years since the Cambodian Space Project first got down to the idea of recording music for release and actually going ahead with a pressing. I’m Unsatisfied was the opening salvo from the CSP – a 3-track EP pressed and released on vinyl. The record turned out to be historic in the sense that it was the first pressing since the Khmer Rouge took control in 1975 and not only dismantled and destroyed culture but put a brutal end to Cambodia’s flourishing recording industry by targeting and murdering most of the artists. In many ways, it was important to launch the CSP with a little vinyl record – a tribute to the artists who’d perished under the Khmer Rouge years and to also accent the vibrant future and the astonishing cultural revival already beginning to take hold.
10 years on, we pick up from where we began and the next step is to form both a record label and a production house. Fish Island Records and the Yellow Sub Studios are purpose-built and will both operate from home base at the Fish Island Community Arts Centre. This is an important new direction and again, allows us to not only pay tribute to the artists who have left behind such and incredible recording legacy but to move into the future by creating the facilities and means for upcoming artists to work with us and realise their own vision and ideas. Fish Island Records will focus on a heritage catalogue as well as the new sounds of Cambodia and South East Asia and to inspire international collaborations with our artists working at grass roots level.
The Yellow Sub Studios is very much a nod to the amazing story of legendary Jamaican studio The Black Ark – the recording studio of reggae and dub producer Lee “Scratch” Perry, built in 1973 and located behind his family’s home in the Washington Gardens neighborhood of Kingston, Jamaica. While I’ve never been to Jamaica, I can certainly sense an affinity between our location on Trey Koh (Fish Island) and the Jamaica of the 70’s, there’s a striking similarity in the architecture of local homes and of course, on Fish Island, we’ve got the island vibe and are not short of sound system parties! in fact it’s a great place for a studio if you wanna cook your songs fresh! and try them right out on a massive sound system right next door.
THE CAMBODIAN SPACE PROJECT ON VINYL
It’s always a hugely satisfying thrill to get one’s hands on a brand new pressing and not least if it’s something you’ve made yourself. Over the past decade, CSP has recorded 5 studio lp’s and several singles, collaborations, and live albums. We’ve released more than a few pressings and each time a record has come back from the pressing plant it’s felt like a big achievement and it is! The downside has been keeping track on selling and recouping as many of these pressings are out of our hands but the records we’ve produced and manufactured directly are excellent pieces of work from all involved and continue to help support our work in Cambodia. All the pressings are collector’s items and the best place to get yourself a copy is by shopping at Channthy’s cousin Chan Rean’s “Retro Shop” in the Russian Marking next time you’re in Phnom Penh.
The best part of making our own vinyl – a labour of love! – is learning and gaining the much-needed experience to keep on making more and arriving at 2021 where we’re ready to launch our own recording studio and record label – woo hoo! that’s progress! We’ve got an incredible back catalogue of rare and unreleased material, special heritage projects and some awesome new things in the pipeline – cooked fresh! out on Fish Island.
Shining a light on the Cambodian music scene
Angkor Pop! is a great example of an album we have put together for the purpose of highlighting many more new live bands who are busy on the Cambodian music scene today. The common factor here is that each of the artists lives and works in Cambodia and, like the CSP, is a fusion of local and international musicians and styles. I invited each of the acts on Angkor Pop! to cover an Iggy Pop song – many had never heard any Iggy Pop but are now dedicated fans and came up with great covers. Jason Shaw set up the little collection of recording equipment including a Alessis 24 channel ADAT brought over to Cambodia by Jim Diamond (Ghetto Recorders, Detroit) especially for the idea of live recordings in ‘rugged’ settings. It’s come up a treat this project and is also a big part of the road that has led us to The Yellow Sub! Expect and Angkor Pop! new edition coming up in 2021.
Here’s what Light in The Attic Records have to say about Angkor Pop!
Angkor Pop! is an exotic and ambitious compilation project showcasing the very best of Cambodia’s new wave of East/West fusion groups—an homage that marks several astonishing milestones in rock’n’roll history: the 50th anniversary of The Stooges, the 40th anniversary of the seminal Iggy Pop/David Bowie albums “The Idiot” and “Lust for Life,” and, not least, the occasion of Iggy Pop’s 70th Birthday!! The best of Cambodia’s music scene—acts like The Cambodian Space Project, Doch Chkae, Kampot Playboys, Professor Kinski with Miss Sarawan and Jessica Lisha Srin, Bokor Mountain Magic Band, Phnom Skor just to name a few—each covering selections from Iggy Pop’s astonishing back catalogue—with the full blessing of the man himself, who seemed (and seems) rather chuffed with this tribute coming from far flung Cambodia.
Read the full story inside the LP, penned by one of the masterminds behind the project, Julien Poulson of Cambodian Space Project, and starring the other mastermind behind the project, CSP guitarist Jason Shaw. Storms of Biblical proportions! Theft by cat burglars of the hard drive which contained all the recordings! Sleuthing and shady back-alley deals on the mean streets of Phnom Penh! Soaring fever and emergency surgery! High drama, frame-ups, tension, crimes and misdemeanors, intervention and ultimately redemption: it all conjures up a single revered name, that of one lone lupine man at the pinnacle of the rock mountain—Iggy Pop!
Fish Island Records Launch Party – Coming up at Good Space in Sydney, March
Delicious Food and Great Music at Fish Island Community Arts Centre
Not long after we purchased a suitable site, we opened FICAC by building a stage and launching with a special concert Cambodian Women of Song. This was a great way to get things rolling but more so, to invite in all the local community and share the good things, music, food and celebrate the collaboration. Almost immediately we set about building the FICAC restaurant and this is now a fantastic facility offering skills and training to our local community and it’s really made a big contribution to our survival during the COVID crisis, allowing us to feed our community and focus on a positive future. Of course, we all know great food and great music goes perfectly together. Having a wonderful restaurant right next to the newly built Yellow Sub means great things will happen and plenty of delicious meals can be shared. We’re always open to visitors and will be working on ideas to marry the recording studio and the kitchen together – music and cooking shows? yep! that’s where we’re heading.
The Fish Island Records Funk For Cambodia Launch Party – Saturday, 27 March (Passover Holiday)
This is super exciting – I personally never thought I’d be based back in Australia and planning to launch a Cambodian record label in Sydney! but that’s how the cooky’s crumbled and in many ways it’s been great to have the perspective of working from Sydney. Fish Island Records will launch at a top secret location (it’s secret for the moment but from the pics we’ve seen, an absolutely iconic central Sydney landmark) with a very special live event by Julien Poulson’s Space Funk! The Aeons, DJ Jonah, Donne Restom and many more tba in partnership with the fabulous events team at Good Space. Watch this space!
Meanwhile, help us launch a legend and get the T-Shirt first!
These babies won’t last long so if you’re keen on any of the items above or want to get in early and help us launch a legend then please get in touch to order either the Fish Island Records and/or Yellow Sub Studios or Pan Ron T-Shirts <firstname.lastname@example.org>