Category: Uncathegorised

With a world in chaos, we feel that it’s time now, more than ever, to bring people together, and to celebrate our diversity and our humanity. Let’s make a better world by focusing on love and respect through sharing our music, our art, our food and our many cultures.

Here at Fish Island Community Arts Centre we’re working hard to build better futures for our local youths through actively creating great events, skills share opportunities and building better communities through community arts programs. At FICAC, we think it’s night time to show off the wonderful talent and people we’ve met since first building upon a swampy rice paddy and launching in November 2019. So, we’re inviting you all to get behind our most exciting initiative yet – FISH ISLAND WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL coming up over the Christmas and New Year period on Treauy Kaoh (Fish Island).

Let’s Do This Thing!

Now, almost 4 years in FICAC’s hard work is bearing fruit! wonderful, exotic, funky fruit at that. And, we ready to plant the seeds of a festival that will be an annual gathering of kindred spirits, new talents, legacy artists and diverse international artists. Kicking off in less than 2 months time, this will be a little beginning of bigger things to come. Humble beginnings for sure but that’s exactly the kind of creative nourishment we need at this time when the world around us is deeper and deeper immeshed in the tragedy of war and chaos. Here in provincial Cambodia our hearts go out to one and all, not least those affected by conflict and war.

We’ve got form!

Yes, I reckon we’ve got form on this and over many years now, have worked hard to create all sorts of arts and music events. Of course, the story began with The Cambodian Space Project and early gatherings such as Bong’s Sak’s Cosmic Cambodian Village Party right through to Cambodia’s first international Readers & Writers Festival – the largest celebration of words, art, and song on the Lower Mekong.

More so, we’re inspired by the experience of traveling to and working on many amazing international festivals, some Cambodian Space Project faves include WOMAD, Byron Bay Blues Fest, BT River of Music, Maailma kylässä -festivaali WORLD VILLAGE FESTIVAL in Helsinki, just to name a few.

World Music Festivals rock! The Cambodian Space Project’s most northern gig live in Helsinki

It’s also true that the excellent Ubud Writers & Readers Festival in Bali has been a big inspiration and was an early supporter of our Kampot Readers & Writers Festival. The UWRF’s mix of forums, food, literature, books, arts and music and a program of local and international artists is a great model for what we’d like to see in Cambodia. But with various changes over the recent years, not least in the demographics, and the closure or exodus of many international media outlets and NGO’s, the landscape for an international Writer’s Festival has shifted – our focus is now firmly on grassroots and the plan is to stay local and show off all the good stuff happening right here at grassroots level – right here is of course, the fishing and farming communities that surround Fish Island Community Arts Centre, and all the potential to create a celebration of wonderful music, arts, cuisine and culture that is indigenous to the region but also to bring in exciting new ideas through international artists and engagement.

Local fishing village work Madam Sarun recording live at Fish Island Records “Yellow Sub Studios”.

Cambodian Women of Song

When we launched the site at FICAC in 2029, we raced just to put down some flat ground and wire up a sound system – the company we hired even turned up late and while their speakers were massive, they’d forgotten to bring microphones! thankfully we had a handful of old mics from KAMA and previous festivals and boxes of wires and cable – our good friend and great soundman Alex McGowan (Future Shape of Sound) who was visiting to perform as Captain Future was suddenly called up to do a very unexpected gig and to wire the whole thing up… so yeah, a very humble beginning, but an important one. You see, we had a brilliant cast of young and old Cambodian women at hand, all who had traveled some distance across the country, to perform our opening concert and to celebrate a show Sam Dara had worked hard to bring together Cambodian Women of Song – check out this short doco.

Behind the scenes, Sam Dara and the making of Cambodian Women of Song.

Fish Island Cuisine & Culture

Before we filled in the land – employing more than 300 trucks filled with rock and sand – and opened Fish Island Community Arts Centre – we were already on a great adventure with food, fusion local ingredients sourced from organic farms and fresh produce from the markets near by, FICAC’s co-founder Kek Soon was cooking at our downtown cafe KAMA, taking gourmet travelers on special foodie tours, and also traveling the world, working in restaurants from Hong Kong to Switzerland. Kek Soon even won a World Tourism Star Award and is renown for her delicious Sino-Khmer cuisine. Since founded FICAC, she’s opened a kitchen to train local people in the art of cuisine and hospitality and already brought much positive attention to Fish Island through her tireless work in training locals. During COVID Kek Soon cooked and distributed hundreds of meals and food relief packs to the poor and disadvantaged.

Needless to say, by creating Fish Island World Music Festival we’ll be showcasing some of these great stories and cuisine highlights – we need a great little festival to make this possible and if you’re lucky enough to be in Cambodia and can join us FIWMF then you’re in for a delicious experience! Check out our local version of the now international dish Curry Laksa and Soon cooking for our local fishing families.

Kek Soon’s Cambodian Kitchen at Fish Island Community Arts Centre

Let’s get psychedelic – take a trip with Space Project Mothership

Being in our part of the world, this little festival concept means the idea that “world music” is mostly people from minority cultures pluckin on weird looking wooden instruments… is totally out the window…this is Cambodia and while there’s a lot of genuinely wondrous and ancient music and arts to be found there’s also a fast moving contemporary culture and music and art rising up from everywhere… from local hip-hop to baek sloy – Cambodia’s own weird and wonderful lo-fi soundsystem culture – whatever it is, you can be guaranteed surprises – expect the very unexpected at Fish Island World Music Festival but also get set to experience the real and the ancient arts such as Chapei Dong Veng – the instrument and music that predates the Buddha’s enlightenment. We’re also working hard to bring back our favourite indigenous hill tribe group lead by Bunong elder Sorng Brou and her music and culture troupe from Bou’Sra, Mondulkiri.

From the studio to the stage – great music cooked fresh!

Show some love! Buy Your Fish Island Records T-shirt right here

Volunteer with us and help support FICAC and our first World Music Festival

We’d love to hear from you if you have time and skills to share! Volunteering is still the best way to really experience the wonderful people and local culture here in Cambodia. Volunteering on a brilliant new music and arts festival – right at grassroots level – is a great way to be part of something that brings real opportunities to artists and employment to the community. The festival will directly support the ongoing development on Fish Island Community Arts Centre and the many projects, and initiatives at FICAC including training in cuisine, art, culture, tourism, language classes, exhibitions, hosting local artists, and international residencies, as well as general maintenance and ongoing building and development of facilities and resources. And don’t forget, we’ve got one of the best restaurants in Cambodia and we love sharing our food with our brilliant volunteers!! you could say a delicious opportunity awaits!

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