The Cambodian Space Project

The Cambodian Space Project (CSP) is recognized as one of the few truly Aussie Asian hybrids in contemporary music. Since 2009, it has been at the forefront of an astonishing cultural revival in Cambodia, since singer Channthy Kak & musician Julien Poulson teamed up in Phnom Penh, to sing back to life the lost divas & rock legends of Cambodia’s golden age of music, all but wiped out by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. The Cambodian Space Project sound is definitely for the 21st century, mashing tradition with rock’n’roll, rare groove, soul, & trippy visual spectacle. They perform re-imagined Khmer classics, alongside originals speaking of Cambodia today like Not Easy Rock’n’roll, Have Visa No Have Rice, and Whisky Cambodia.

The band has released 5 albums & 4 singles, most recently Electric Blue Boogaloo. Its third album Whisky Cambodia, was recorded in Detroit with legendary producer Dennis Coffey, famed as the guitarist in Motown’s Funk Brothers. Other collaborations include with Paul Kelly on The Boat, and Channthy’s collaboration with The Herd MC Ozi Battla in Astronomy Class.

For six years CSP has toured bars, rock festivals and theatres across Asia, Europe and Australia, including, in Australia: Bluesfest, MONA FOMA, Womadelaide, Castlemaine State Festival, & Robyn Archer’s The Light in Winter. In 2014 CSP partnered with Belgian theatre director Michael Laub & Cambodian arts NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak to present Galaxy Khmer at the prestigious Hebbel Am Ufer Theatre (HAU) in Berlin. This year CSP toured the UK including Jazz Café & headlining the Charlie Gillet Stage at WOMAD London, broadcast live on BBC3. That live recording was described by BBC Music as the “Top unmissable moment on BBC radio right now”.

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For more information please visit www.cambodianspaceproject.org

Srey Channthy Kak was born in Prey Veng province and spent the first ten years of her life moving around war zones with her father, an army tank driver. She recalls falling in love with 60’s Cambodian music as a child, when she could listen to songs on a little transistor radio or hear the songs her mother would sing to her. She worked from a young age to support her family and in her teens she joined a Cambodian wedding band travelling much of her country while building a large repertoire of songs. Channthy eventually moved to Phnom Penh and met Australian music producer Julien Poulson with whom she founded The Cambodian Space Project. Channthy’s unique voice as well as her ability to pen very original songs, titles such as Have Visa No Have Rice, quickly earned her a strong reputation amongst an international audience. In 2010, Channthy was invited to sing and speak at the Ubud Readers & Writer’s Festival where her performance attracted the attention of Paul Kelly with whom she collaborated to record The Boat a song about asylum seekers for the Key of Sea project. She has also collaborated with leading Australian hip-hop group The Herd, recording an album and touring as ‘Astronomy Class’.

Julien Poulson is an Australian musician, producer, writer and visual artist based between Phnom Penh and Tasmania with a focus and track record in working with South East Asian music. As a guitarist and songwriter, he is best known for his work in founding and producing The Cambodian Space Project – a Phnom Penh based psychedelic rock’n’roll band at the forefront of an astonishing cultural revival. Over the past decade, Poulson has received support from Arts Tasmania, The Australia Council and Asialink and has worked to create highly original arts projects delivered across a diverse range of forms and styles. Poulson’s creation of limited edition poster designs for the CSP led him to establish Sticky Fingers Art Prints Cambodia to train and teach local designers and crafts persons print making techniques with a focus on pop culture iconography. In 2010, Poulson was awarded the Alcorso Foundation Italian Artist Residency and travelled to live and work in Venice, Italy where he wrote the libretto Muskito – a psychotropic Western based on Italian films and operas and influenced by the spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone.

Carlos Gomes is a director, designer and dramaturg and the Artistic Director of Theatre Kantanka. Known for creating diverse cross-cultural performance works, he has collaborated in Australia with Legs on the Wall, Salamanca Theatre, Urban Theatre Projects, Sidetrack, Ensemble Offspring and others. His work has been presented by: Performance Space, Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney Opera House, Blacktown Arts Centre, Museum of Art of Sao Paulo (Brazil), and the Institute of Contemporary Art, London. Recently, Carlos has collaborated with the contemporary music group Ensemble Offspring bringing a strong sense of theatricality to their work. Carlos worked with the Ensemble on the opera Rinse Cycle (composed by Moya Henderson) and on the program of music, Sounds Absurd. Carlos (and Theatre Kantanka) collaborated with Ensemble Offspring on the remarkable performance Bargain Garden. Most recently he directed the performance elements of Ensemble’s critically acclaimed Secret Noise (composed by Damien Ricketson), engaging dancers and performers.

Kong Nay is a master of chapei dong veng (long-neck 2 stringed guitar). With his distinctive witty, raspy voice, he co-writes and sings a series of satirical songs with Channthy. He is one of relatively few great masters to have survived the Khmer Rouge era, and is known as the “Ray Charles of Cambodia”, and his music as “Mekong Delta Blues”, the title of an album he recorded with Ouch Savy in 2007. He was forced to perform songs praising the Khmer Rouge, and only managed to survive being executed when the Vietnamese overthrew the regime. Blind and in his 60s, he is one of the last chapei masters and one of 17 artists designated as Intangible treasures by the Government of Cambodia.

Khen Vannthy & Khen Vanton have worked as dancers in Cambodia and internationally for the past 5 years. In Cambodia, Vannthy also manages and teaches in her own dance company. Vanton is an exceptional Apsara dancer and is a protégé and student of Bopha Devi – Cambodia’s most revered ballet dancer. Both Vannthy & Vanton are graduates of the Royal University of Fine Arts. They have been collaborating with The Cambodian Space Project for two years, as “The Spacettes”, including to devise, rehearse, perform and tour Galaxy Khmer, to Siem Reap, the Hebbel Theater in Berlin, and to Bergen.

Samuel James is a filmmaker and projection designer for performance. Since 1995, he has been a collaborator on over 200 performance projects developing integrated, paradoxical languages with video projection.  His approach to the moving image is to be equivalent to the live body, encompassing space, rhythm and time with the use of video. He has a background in Architecture and worked as a stage designer from 1995-2003.  In 2012 he completed an MFA Research at COFA, UNSW on Digital Animism.  He has collaborated regularly with companies and artists including: My Darling Patricia, eRTH Physical and Visual Theatre, de Quincey Co., Hans Van den Broeck and Julie-Anne Long. He has been commissioned to make video works for Campbelltown Arts Centre, Performance Space, Artspace and Reeldance Festival of Dance on Screen.

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