Jan 20 2012
Proving that London’s got nothing on Phnom Penh, two expat Aussies have been making music and filming performers as they careen around the city in the back of a tuk tuk. Allan Soutaris and Rory Hunter originally got the idea while drunkenly singing the The Beatles Two of Us on the way home from Zeppelin Bar, and decided to record such musical performances a la the UK’s Black Cab Sessions.
The Cambodia incarnation, called the Tuk Tuk Sessions, feature expat and local performers with the motto “One song, one take, one tuk tuk.” They’ve recorded more than 30 sessions, including international bands such as Dengue Fever, local favourites Grass Snake Union and of course, themselves.
I caught up with Allan Soutaris and got to ask him a few questions about the Tuk Tuk Sessions.
Who have been some of your favourite sessions so far?
I really enjoyed one of the latest ones called Why I Write by Kosal Khiev, that one is really cool. He’s a Khmerican. He was imprisoned for attempted murder for 16 years, then when he was released he was sent back here. I just read an article about him today that said he was in solitary confinement for a year and that’s when he started doing his spoken word stuff.
His performance is a spoken word piece — really passionate and really cool. It was different to what we usually do but it sort of highlights another aspect of Phnom Penh that you wouldn’t normally see if you’re an expat jumping in the back of a tuk tuk playing guitar, so that was interesting.
What’s the Cambodian reaction to this project?
Everyone that I’ve spoken to or showed it to, they really love it. The biggest reaction is from people on the street who see us filming and the tuk tuk drivers who drive us around. When we drive through crowded areas people clap and wave and yell out. I was little bit worried about how it would be taken or that people would think we were taking the piss out of them or be offended, but they love it. One of the reasons we continue to do it is to show the street life in Phnom Penh so it’s really pleasing that they like it.
What’s the future of the Tuk Tuk Sessions? Anything interesting in the works?
We want to get a lot more Khmer artists. We’re meant to have a couple of guys from Tiny Toones on soon. We also want to get some sessions in the provinces so we can show rural life as well as Phnom Penh. We have a few upcoming from Laos, in Vientiane, from friends of Rory’s who recorded a few sessions there. In the future, it would be pretty cool to get videos from neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam.
Watch all of the Tuk Tuk Sessions here.
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