Arts, Culture & Media

Global hit: Dengue Fever

The band Dengue Fever formed eight years ago. Back then, their focus was reviving Cambodian pop music from the 1960's.

Here's a song from their self-titled debut CD. Dengue Fever is not based in Cambodia. They're in Los Angeles. Their lead singer is Cambodian.

But the other band members are not -- they simply share a love of Cambodian music. The band began by doing covers of old Cambodian songs.

Now, Dengue Fever wants to give back to the Cambodian musicians who wrote those songs. But that's not so simple -- according to Paul Smith, the band's drummer.

�When we were first trying to locate the performers and writers of the music we were covering, we quickly found out, I think it's in 1975 a year called year zero. The Khmer Rouge erased all records, so literally it's like going to Washington and erasing everything and everything is starting from year zero after that point. So, we're trying to do what's right and trying to locate these artists, but because it's been so difficult, we know there's a few remaining relatives of these singers, but it's just kind of the Wild West and it's a tricky thing to navigate, but we're trying to do our best.�

For now, the best Dengue Fever can do is set up a fund with their publishing company. So, when or IF any of these artists are found, the band would at least be able to financially compensate them. Things are different for Dengue Fever today. The band has a new CD out -- and THIS time, they're playing their OWN songs.

Paul Smith says its part of the band's evolution.

�The royalty situation has been resolved. It's a lot easier to license original music than covers. But those covers that we recorded and did license we can't take that for granted because we wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for those covers.�

Dengue Fever's new CD is called Venus on Earth.

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