Studio Aims to Nurture Talent, Lure Global Artists

When Clive Butler and Ian Croft met in Siem Reap City in early 2013, it did not take long for them to begin to bond over a mutual love of music and a desire to nurture local talent.

“We had a big ambition to do something with music and that’s how we started talking about it, then we started to look more closely and we realized there was no high-quality, international recording studio in Cambodia,” Mr. Butler said.

Steve Bloxham, a sound engineer at Siem Reap’s 60 Road Studios, sits at the production desk during the studio’s opening on Thursday. (Lim Sokchanlina)
Steve Bloxham, a sound engineer at Siem Reap’s 60 Road Studios, sits at the production desk during the studio’s opening on Thursday. (Lim Sokchanlina)

About a year later, the two Brits set about converting a six-story house on the city’s Abbey Lane into the home of 60 Road Studios, a venue the pair hopes will attract international artists due to its state-of-the art equipment and proximity to the country’s famed Angkorian temples.

The studio officially opened its doors on Thursday evening.

Mr. Butler, 51, and Mr. Croft, 39, plan to use the profits that established foreign artists will pump into 60 Road Records to promote Cambodian musicians and give them free access to the studio.

“We had a strong desire not to do NGO work…. [W]e believe social enterprises should be successful businesses and it’s what you do with the profit,” Mr. Butler said.

He said one of the biggest obstacles for the studio would be convincing young musicians’ parents that a career in the industry was viable.

“We’re forming the first band [to be signed by the label] already, which is going a little slowly, as we’ve discovered that there is no real belief that music or the arts is a career,” he said. “A lot of the families put a block on it and think it’s not a job.”

An event to launch the studio on Thursday featured a performance by the Khmer Magic Music Bus, a group of traditional Cambodian musicians who mostly play for audiences in remote parts of the country.

The band is the brainchild of Arn Chorn Pond, a Cambodian-American multi-instrumentalist who moved back to Cambodia in the 1990s. He called 60 Road Studios the first of its kind in Cambodia and predicted it would be successful in promoting local musicians, both at home and abroad.

“I’ve never seen a studio of this quality,” he said. “I didn’t know how big it was until today—they have pulled this off.”

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