Inspired by Blondie, Cambodia’s punk rock queen uses music to empower women and challenge old-fashioned views

Rather than sing love ballads as others in her country do, Sochetra Vartey writes lyrics about issues such as domestic violence and poverty.

Dressed in an elegant wide-legged jumpsuit, Sochetra Vartey takes off her oversized sunglasses and flashes a broad smile. “I’ve changed my style slightly,” Cambodia’s leading lady of punk rock confesses, as she runs her perfectly manicured fingers through her glossy hair, revealing a set of gold hooped earrings.

She looks a picture of glamour, a far cry from the stereotypical image conjured of a female punk. Her gentle nature and soft tone also sit in contrast to the feisty female portrayed in the video for Pdey Chongrai (“Evil Husband”), the hit that catapulted her to fame in 2017.

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