The Cambodian Vintage Music Archive: Collecting and Preserving Cambodia’s Prewar Popular Media

Wednesday, May 8, 2019
3:30 PM – 5:00 PM


Free Event

Nate Hun (Cambodian music/film enthusiast) will present a talk titled “The Cambodian Vintage Music Archive: Collecting and Preserving Cambodia’s Prewar Popular Media” on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 from 3:30-5 pm in Music Library Seminar Room 2406. Cosponsored by the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music (CISM), East Asia Center, and UCSB Ethnomusicology Forum.


Between 1975 and 1979, a majority of Cambodian music and films were destroyed under the communist leadership of the Khmer Rouge. One of their main policies targeted those influenced by the west; foreign influences were set to be abolished and eliminated at any cost. Anyone in possession of this music would have been automatically deemed a traitor. Musicians, artists, singers and others were inevitably destined for death, whether a result of execution, starvation, disease, or malnutrition: a third of the population suffered the same consequences. No original studio recordings are thought to have survived, and only a mere 50 or so films out of 500+ titles were lucky enough to shine through the lens of a projector again. Despite the Khmer Rouge falling out of power in 1979, most collectors continued to hold their collections private. To find the music in its original quality was nearly impossible. Copies of the music that did survive did so in low fidelity, via cassette tapes copied over and over before reaching the market, and many CD productions added synthesized drum overdubs in the 90’s. The Cambodian Vintage Music Archive works to recover and digtially restore vinyl recordings of Cambodian popular music from the pre-Khmer Rouge “golden age” in the highest quality possible.

About the Speaker

Nate Hun is a Cambodian music/film enthusiast hoping to revive this lost culture. He worked with director John Pirozzi on the documentary film “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll” (2014) as an associate producer, and also co-founded the Cambodian Vintage Music Archive, which aims to locate collectors to preserve digital copies of Cambodian popular music recordings. Through increased awareness and global popularity, recovered materials have slowly resurfaced for the first time in over 40 years. Nate Hun is also featured in LinDa Saphan’s debut film, “Nate From Lowell, MA” (2016), which will be screened before the talk.