BYOB means ‘Bring Your Own Band’ at the Hard Rock Cafe as the ‘home of rock and roll’ is set to host a four-month Battle of the Bands tournament – pitting aspiring musicians against each other in an effort to find the Kingdom’s best amateur band.
“We are looking for bands to bring their own material with original songs or covers,” said Euan Gray, one of three judges for the event.
Gray, a musician himself, is beloved in the Cambodian music scene for his gentle interpretations of classic Khmer songs.
Other judges will include Kang Piseth of Coconut Band fame and Han Kavie, who will produce the winning band’s record (to be used as a ringtone by one of the sponsors of the event).
“We encourage young artists to create an original composition rather than just adding their own lyrics to existing music,” added Han.
The trio will select 16 finalists from auditions submitted by artists around the Kingdom beginning on February 1 until February 28.
“The focus of this competition is [not] just on celebrating the singers, but it also pulls focus on celebrating the band,” said Gray.
The contest will include four concerts – the first two taking place at Hard Rock Cafe on the weekend of March 23 and culminating with a grand finale on May 25 at Exchange Square’s Park just outside.
Khmer rock group Moustache Band will also join the festivities for the final show.
Contestants must be between 18-35 years of age and bands must consist of at least three members – with at least half of the group consisting of Cambodian nationals. Foreigners who wish to enter must have a valid work visa, according to the rules.
The winners will receive a $2,500 grand prize, a recording contract, an LD CURV sound system valued at $4,000 and a three-month performance contract at Hard Rock Cafe, which has taken it upon itself to host the concerts as a labour of love.
“Music [has been] the heart and soul of Hard Rock Cafe for more than 40 years,” said Richard Tan, country sales and marketing manager for the company.
“There’s a sort of misconception that Hard Rock Cafe is all about hard-rock songs . . . but we’re open to all genres of music, whether it’s pop, heavy metal, jazz or rap,” said Tan.
Gray, whose instrument of choice is a saxophone due to his love of jazz, encouraged artists from every spectrum of musical genres to enter the competition.
“One thing I’ve been witness to here is just an incredible amount of young people who are passionate about music and who want to write songs, to sing songs [and] to share songs,” said Gray.
“Live performance is where you can really show how your music can engage people . . . you’ll get a chance to get on a great stage and perform in front of a great audience,” he added.
Bands can submit their auditions online at: Facebook.com/BattleoftheBandsKH, [email protected] or by dropping by Killat Events’ office in Tonle Bassac commune.