Another day, another interview...this one at Blurt and dealing with the Cambodian surf/funk/psych outfit Dengue Fever.
CATCHING THE MULTICULTURAL WAVE: Dengue Fever
May 03, 2011
Haunting Cambodian fever dreams, the funky strut and shuffle of James Brown and the psychedelic garage rock of 1960s bands.
BY JENNIFER KELLY
Zac Holtzman used to play guitar in Dengue Fever but now he plays the Mastodon.
No, not the Ice Age hairy elephant; don't be silly. Holtzman's mastodon is a double-necked guitar, the top half a Fender JazzMaster, the bottom a traditional Khmer lute known as a chapei dong veng. The instrument, which can be seen on the front of Dengue Fever's fourth and latest album Cannibal Courtship, is a metaphor for Dengue Fever's globe-trotting syncretism. The band is anchored by Holtzman and his Farfisa-toting brother Ethan, both of LA, but fronted by singer Chhom Nimol, a striking and graceful woman born in Cambodia and schooled in a native Khmer music and dance tradition. Supported by bassist Senon Williams (also of Radar Brothers), horn player and multi-instrumentalist David Ralicke and drummer Paul Smith, Dengue Fever brings on the haunting fever dreams of Cambodia's octave leaping ghost singing, the funky strut and shuffle of James Brown and the psychedelic garage rock of 1960s bands like Love and 13th Floor Elevators.
"The songs on Cannibal Courtship are about struggling in relationships, about people in relationships that are feeding off one another," says Zac Holtzman, who uses the double-neck for songs like "Uku," off the new album, where he has to switch quickly between Western and Cambodian axes. "But that's a theme that also seemed to make a lot of sense with what we do. We are inspired by and feed off each other's cultures. As a band, we are inspired by Cambodian culture and by Cambodians being inspired by garage and psychedelic music. So it all seemed to make perfect sense."
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