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Tuk-tuk DJs tour Phnom Penh to boost tourism in style

Natalie Mullen and Scarlett Green / Khmer Times Share:
DJ Nemo and DJ S.J.M mixing live in a tuk-tuk. Supplied

Four expats stuck in Cambodia have collaborated to produce a new, innovative way to promote the Kingdom – using their creative minds to make a unique video clip mixing music live in a tuk-tuk while travelling around Phnom Penh.

We’re used to seeing DJs playing music in clubs, festivals, bars and restaurants, where their ability to blend music attracts a wide array of people, to enjoy the music and let loose on the dance floor.

However, DJ Nemo and DJ S.J.M have created a whole new way of sharing their music, on the move.

The “Tuk Tuk Mix | Live Cambodia – DJ Nemo (Like The Fish) x DJ S.J.M” video posted on YouTube was filmed and edited by WHY NOT Creation with help from cameraman Andres Godoy and music mastering by Sergio Vilas.

The video shows the two DJs driving around various locations by night in Phnom Penh and has attracted views from people all over the world.

French DJ Nemo (Like The Fish) played back-to-back with UK DJ S.J.M (Intense Records) to create the one-hour mix, covering various sub-genres of underground minimal dance music. The mix was recorded live in September in Phnom Penh.

DJ S.J.M said: “I was watching a video by ‘Fat Boy Slim’ where he was doing a mix inside a car. They were talking and mixing at the same time and this inspired us, so we thought to ourselves, what if we do something like this but in an open tuk-tuk, and the idea was born.”

“Asia is a beautiful country, there is so much to explore that people don’t often get to see it all. Driving around the streets of Phnom-Penh and playing our music with the backdrop of the beautiful city seemed like a fantastic, creative way to show people Cambodia from another perspective,” he added.

WHY NOT Creation producer Amé in Phnom Penh’s Prohm Bayon Cir fairground, one of the locations the tuk-tuk drove through. Supplied

“People were so welcoming. There are so many beautiful locations; we were spoilt for choice. I also wanted people to know more about our music so they can listen and enjoy it. It tells a story in a new light. It’s a new concept” DJ S.J.M added.

WHY NOT Creation was founded by French video producer, known as Amé, whose first project was a mix at seven steps waterfall in Ratanakiri. Although it’s a similar concept, you could say this was another inspiration for the tuk-tuk mix.

Amé said: “Nemo is a well-known DJ, and we have known him for over 6 months now. When we told him we wanted to do this, he thought it was a fantastic idea and was very excited.”

DJ Nemo said: “When I heard about it, I immediately jumped at the chance to do such a creative project. It’s an amazing idea, so I said let’s do it.”

They hired a local tuk-tuk driver, who they have got to know over the last year, who was thrilled to be featured and for the extra work it brought him. He knows the city very well and was glad to help them with planning routes and helping fix the camera onto the tuk-tuk for the recording.

“The tuk-tuk driver was very nice. We spoke with him, told him what we all needed to make this happen and he did exactly that, he couldn’t have been more helpful and was a vital part of the crew. We told him we want to go to the roundabout into the heart of the city, see the temples and the riverside,” said Amé.

“I was on a bike with another person helping me, recording the whole event on video. We nearly crashed almost 20 times, but it was an amazing experience filled with fun. It was a little dangerous, but I was focussing on the footage and it was well worth the risks in the end,” she added.

Their main motive for this project was to showcase Cambodia in a new light on social media, hoping to gain traction with views and to intrigue viewers to come to Cambodia in the future. They want to attract new tourists here when the borders open, for people who have been stuck in lockdown in other parts of the world, who are starting to plan trips away for 2021.

With the combination of creative music and colourful video, WHY NOT Creation hopes this will inspire new travellers to come here and breathe new life into tourism when the pandemic is over.

“The concept of DJing in a tuk-tuk has never been done before so it’s completely new to people here,” Amé said.

“We would particularly like to help the amazing people of Cambodia too, we have been stuck here for a long time now and its such a beautiful place to be. People here have so much respect. If our video helps tourism in any way we will be very happy, even just a little bit. Our video gives everyone the chance to see the city in a new way. After this, we plan to do more in other provinces,” said DJ S.J.M.

Because of the pandemic, people all over the world have been sat at home for a long time. As things start to open up, everyone wants to start working again to bring financial stability back into their lives. With this concept, they tried to bring smiles to the faces of people walking around the streets, to forget their worries and enjoy good music so they can dance along and forget their stress.

DJ S.J.M said: “We would love to work with Khmer DJs in the future too for new projects and combine Khmer music with European and western music, to try and bridge the gap in the diversity of what we all play and listen too.”

The tuk-tuk drove for an hour and a half around Phnom Penh to showcase the beauty of the city and play music to people in the street. Supplied

They already have thought of their next project, which they plan to do in a helicopter. However, for this, they need a bigger production budget and they hope to find sponsors within the Kingdom who want to help promote Cambodia.

“It took us one hour and 30 minutes to travel around and record the video. There is also a lot of work needed after the initial video recording. Editing is where the most time is spent, the need to mix and match the music correctly, to synchronise the music with the imagery. That took a long time, over 120 hours,” said Amé.

DJ Nemo said: “DJing in the tuk-tuk was fun, but there was such little space for both of us and our kit. One of us was playing a track while the other was holding equipment, and vice versa.”

“We got different kinds of reactions too. Like what is going on here? Mostly amazing reactions, especially when we were driving around the theme park, the kids were dancing to the beats, smiling and loving it,” he added.

“Some people were very surprised, while others were amazed that only five people were involved in the production, including the tuk-tuk driver, to create such a unique video of the city,” said Nemo.

Additional reporting by Emily Allman


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