Kyle James

journalist/writer/media development consultant

Punk and Hardcore in Cambodia

Pic No Forever

Photo: Yab Moung Records

(Aired on Monocle 24 on 24 Feb. 2014)

In the 1960s, popular music in Cambodia was coming into its own. Cambodian artists took western pop, surf rock and even psychedelia and blended them with homegrown Khmer influences. But that experiment came to a crashing halt in 1975 when the Khmer Rouge came to power. Artists and musicians were especially targeted by the genocidal communist regime—most died or fled the country. When the Khmer Rouge was overthrown in 1979, music and the arts in Cambodia had been all but destroyed. Now a small group of young Cambodians are rediscovering their voices and forging something new. It’s in the form of punk, metal and hardcore music, genres completely unknown by most people in this traditional society. From the capital Phnom Penh, Kyle James takes a closer look at the country’s small but growing headbanger scene.

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