In early February, 27-year-old Soria Oung released an original ballad on YouTube, lamenting his breakup with a girlfriend. Today, the pop song has 1.5 million views and his face is plastered on the side of a city bus.
A tunesmith at heart, his talent was pushed to a new level after joining Songkites, which works with the young artists to hone their musical and presentation skills, introduce them to the industry and give them a platform through the international release of an original album.
“It’s not about getting famous,” Mr. Oung said. “It’s because I love music and I want to see Cambodia have more music that belongs to our country, that belongs to our own people.”
At Songkites, the Phnom Penh native was among a dozen artists who developed their songwriting chops during a four-month workshop in 2013.
Part of The Ragamuffin Project, an international NGO that provides art therapy services in Cambodia, Songkites is in its second season of mentoring aspiring musicians.
Welsh art psychotherapist Carrie Herbert and Australian musician and producer Euan Gray chose the first 12 artists for Songkites’ “Season One” after the project was commissioned by BBC Media Action to create local, original music for the Cambodian feature film “Down This Road.”
The success of Season One led the organizers to green-light another Songkites installment.
About 40 aspiring musicians auditioned for a part in the new “Season of Love” and nine of them, all under 26, were selected to create and record songs about love in the Songkites Studio.
Another album was released on Wednesday that tells of the rollercoaster ride that is romance—from the excitement of first love to the challenges worth overcoming.
The album is currently available on the Smart Music KH App and will be more widely available in about two weeks.
On Saturday, the nine artists from Season Two will perform the album in its entirety at the International School of Phnom Penh’s Black Box Theater.
Season of Love was commissioned by Come Together, a local social enterprise. The songs will
be used in a movie and television series, “Love to the Power of Four,” written and produced by Sothea Ines and Deependra Gauchan. The movie is set to be released in January, and the TV series will be broadcast on CTN soon afterward.
The organizers want to do additional seasons, if they can find the funding.
“Our vision is one of community” Mr. Gray said. “Every new season we get a bigger and bigger community, and our vision is for them to do it themselves.”
Tickets for Saturday’s show cost $5 and are available only at KOI Cafe outlets in Phnom Penh.