After a heady high season of bands returning to Phnom Penh for shorter or longer periods, prepare for a quick bunch of shows by the Darwin based Jigsaw Collective. This multi-modal jazzy-soul-funk party-igniting outfit is back after nearly a year to cement its following and attract the curious.
This time it’s a seven piece, with Jack Tinapple out the front on vocals, flute, saxophone and harmonica, with Merran Neilsen on violin, Dan Davies and Perter Bendel on guitars, Tommy Anderson on bass, Lukas Bendel on drums, and with guest artist Bridey Rose on vocals and acoustic guitar.
Jack and Dan were kind enough to answer some questions about the pending tour.
I first met you as a bunch very keen to play, setting up with an efficiency of purpose in smallish corners that somehow managed to fit you all in, gradually playing larger and larger stages. What are the origins of the band? Was it songs looking for a vehicle or a jam that got out of hand?
Jack: The collective began as a student band. Charles Darwin University hosts a diverse music programme in which a group of fellows started by performing in and around campus. The band was quickly requested to deliver further afield after winning the Northern Territory battle of the bands and travelling to compete in the national finals in South Australia. The journey featured numerous concerts on the famous Australian Ghan Railway that spans the island continent and was capped by well received concerts in the Adelaide Fringe Festival, the second biggest fringe festival in the world.
Dan: Due to the transient nature of Darwin, members left to move interstate and other members joined. We became a ‘collective’ because we still play with old members when they’re in Darwin or when we’re touring to places they may be based.
This is your third visit as a band – what is it that draws you to Cambodia?
Jack: Our first Khmer tour was in support of Dan Davies’ Asialink artist residency in Kampot. The band studied the language in preparation, researched the food and geography, but nothing could prepare the players for the tidal wave of food, dance, art, language and colour experience. Now the force of magnetism draws from both sides – the band seeking to re-instate that first culture shock sensation and new fans continually and insistently requesting our return.
Dan: I’ve been fortunate to come to Cambodia as a musician from my first visit here in 2015 playing with Leelo Murumagi from Estonia at the inaugural Kampot Readers and Writers Festival. On subsequent trips I’ve performed and toured with a heap of acts including Rich Webb, Bokor Magic Mountain Band, Messenger Band, Grass Snake Trio/Revival, Scoddy Bywater and more recently Frankie Teardrop Dead and the Cambodian Space Project Mothership. To me it feels like the music scene in Phnom Penh especially is really cooking, you can see a good band every night of the week and probably play a gig every night of the week if you put your hand up to. It seems like a supportive scene and has an anything-can-happen vibe about it, as well as the country itself. It’s also edgy and in many ways dangerous, and with the pace of change it feels like everything could be over tomorrow. But it’s cooking right in the slot right now in the moment.
What should we be expecting from a Jigsaw Collective show in 2019?
Jack: Always expect the unexpected. The Jigsaw Collective lives for the rush of improvisation, where the key is watching the audience interaction and listening to each others’ harmony and rhythm. Solos are heavily backed by countermelody, syncopation reigns and guest artists flourish. On this tour we take our music further than ever before, beyond Phnom Penh and Kampot to Battambang and Siem Reap. No note is safe, but each one is held high in adulation ready for the bass to drop.
Dan: It will be a fun time. Touring tightens your chops and it will be fun bouncing off each other while maintaining the energy and chaos, especially at the more punked up gigs.
Jigsaw Collective will play Bassac Lane on Friday night, Tacos Kokopelli (early, 7 pm) and Oscar’s on the Corner (late, from 10 pm) on Saturday, leaving for Kampot for dates at Plantation and Karma Traders, then return to Phnom Penh for a show at LF Social Club on Thursday March 21 before heading to Battambang and finally Siem Reap.