Cambodia, History, Khmer Rouge, Phare

Three Khmer albums you MUST add to your Apple Music playlist

I have been missing Cambodia recently. After living there for over five years, that is no surprise. What is getting me through however, is the range of Khmer music that is being added to Apple Music. This is in no way an endorsement of Apple Music, however I am very happy that I am able to access Khmer music in a legal way!

You see, in Cambodia, there is a lack of understanding about taking music, films and karaoke clips without permission. Recently though, companies such as Smart Music and Phare, the Cambodian Circus, have been copyrighting music, and allowing artists to protect their hard work. So I am ecstatic that as a consumer, I can now listen to this wonderful music without a guilty conscious.

If you wanted to hear a unique range of music, here are three Khmer albums that you MUST add to your Apple Music playlist.

AWAKE | Laura Mam

Laura Mam is a Cambodian-American songwriter/singer/guitarist who was born and raised in the United States. Several years ago she made the move to Cambodia, and has gained a lot of respect for her music style, which is heavily influenced by acoustic sounds, indie rock, Cambodian 60s music, and funk. 

Her album, Awake, includes songs in both Khmer and English. They are very catchy, and will leave you wanting to check out her other albums!

KHMER METAL | Phare, the Cambodian Circus

Phare, the Cambodian Circus, performs live circus acts in Siem Reap accompanied by live music, dance and acting. This rock and roll album is my favourite out of their wide range of music. Even if you haven’t seen the Khmer Metal show (I haven’t), you will absolutely adore this album and are guaranteed to put it on repeat!

BEST OF SINN SISAMOUTH VOLUME I | Sinn Sisamouth

Sinn Sisamouth was a famous singer from the 1950’s to 1970’s. In the early 1950s he became a protégé of Queen Nearyrath and performed at royal receptions and state functions. He was known for using rock and roll band instrumentation with guitars and percussion, which was unusual at the time. When the Khmer Rouge took control of Cambodia in 1975, Sinn Sisamouth was presumably executed, given he was educated, an artist, and was connected with the former government.

Sinn Sisamouth’s master tapes of his studio recordings are thought to have been destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, however fortunately his tapes and LP’s have allowed his legacy to continue. Try closing your eyes when listening to this album, and imagine a time when Cambodia was thriving on the rock and roll culture, and not recovering from the trauma of war.