9.21.2012

angry reader of the week: laura tevary mam



Okay, everyone. Gather' round. I would like you to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Laura Tevary Mam.

Who are you?
Laura Tevary Mam

What are you?
I am a Cambodian-American Singer/Songwriter/Lead Guitarist hoping to take Cambodian American music back home to Cambodia and help rebuild a once-glorious original music scene.

Where are you?
Right now watching monsoon rains drench the streets of Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Where are you from?
I was born and raised in San Jose, California to two sweet Cambodian parents who barely made it here alive when they were sponsored out of Cambodia from a refugee camp in Thailand. Thanks to my parents and their unusual desire to have family dance parties in the kitchen, I spent my life falling in love with all Cambodian music, from 60s Golden Era Hits to Classical Royal Court music while simultaneously being influenced by American music including 90s hip hop, alternative, indie, rock, funk, soul, reggae, RnB, jazz and definitely the blues.

What do you do?
I am in a band called The Like Me's and we have spent the last three years re-inventing covers of older Cambodian songs to give them a modern twist in addition to writing our own Cambodian music with a bit of a modern touch. Thanks to the amazing phenomenon of youtube, our band has been able to reach fans from the US to Canada to France to Australia and especially to Cambodia. And thanks to these amazing fans, we were able to do some touring in the US, Canada, and Cambodia. And thanks to those incredible tours creating opportunities for us in Cambodia, we have been sponsored by Cambodian mobile phone giant, Cellcard, and the Cambodian Television Network and spent 2012 formally introducing ourselves, our music and our cause to the Cambodian general public with a full Cambodian written album. And so far, the large positive response has proven to me that the Cambodian people are not only ready for original music, but hungry for it.

What are you all about?
Showing Cambodians in Cambodia that we can finally chuck this attitude of us needing to catch up to the Koreans, the Americans, or whoever is making internationally powerful music. Music is the secret of the heart and it can be found when one has decided to find it. Simultaneously, I hope to show the Cambodian diasporas all over the world that despite the misfortune of being self-exiled refugees from a genocide that haunts us all, our access to the education and resources that are unavailable in Cambodia is quite possibly the blessing in disguise that will give us a chance to return home and contribute our skills, ideas and dreams to Cambodian society. President John F. Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." If this great wisdom can be applied to Cambodia by all of its children whether at home or abroad, then we truly have a chance to reframe a narrative of genocidal history into the most powerful comeback you have ever seen by a nation.

What makes you angry?
When people ask me what ethnicity I am and when I respond that I am Cambodian, they return with 1 of 2 responses. 1) "Them: What is Cambodian? Me: It's a country in Asia in between Thailand and Vietnam. Them: Oh you mean you're a type of Chinese. Me: No." 2) "But you have light skin...you can't be Cambodian. Me: No there are some light skinned Cambodians and dark skinned Cambodians. We are all Cambodians alike. Them: Well either way you are too pretty to be Cambodian, I don't believe you. Me: (Angry sigh). " All this says to me is that Cambodians need more positive exposure in general. Hopefully, I can help my people achieve that.

Another thing that makes me angry are dangerous skin bleaching products in Asia that actually kill people. When people tell me after I have purposely tanned myself at the beach because I love olive brown skin that they are scared for me looking too dark and Cambodian and that they know of a skin whitening solution, I always calm my nerves by referring back my secret wish that Dove's Real Beauty Campaign will team up with me one day in creating a Brown is Crown Campaign. Because seriously, brown is beautiful and we all know it.