Cambodia’s second annual Folk Art & Blues Fest rolls into Phnom Penh on a double-decker London bus in late January for the start of a 16-day tour that will take it all over the Kingdom. Julien Poulson, the guitarist/producer behind the famed Khmer rock revival band Cambodian Space Project, talks with Southeast Asia Globe about the country’s pre-Khmer Rouge rocknroll scene of the 1960s and 1970s that inspired him to launch both his band and Asia’s only rolling psychedelic rock festival.
Go into any restaurant, bar or other business in Phnom Penh, and you will hear one of around a dozen songs from the likes of Ed Sheeran, Gnash, Maroon 5, Charlie Puth, Sam Smith and Camila Cabello. Thankfully, Cambodia has something of an underground music scene, though you have to look for it. Long-time Aussie expat Julien Poulson helped revive Khmer rocknroll by collaborating with Cambodian players in his great band the Cambodian Space Project, which headlines his second annual psychedelic music festival in the group’s latest incarnation. It’s now known as the CSP Mothership, renamed and reformed after the passing of its former singer and Poulson’s one-time wife, Kak Channthy, whose life was cut short last year in a tuk tuk accident.