For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Yol Aularong.

Yol Aularong

Yol Aularong
Yol Aularong performing in the early 1970s, from archival footage used in the film Don't Think I've Forgotten
Background information
GenresCambodian rock
Occupation(s)singer, guitarist
Years active1960-1975

Yol Aularong (Khmer: យស អូឡារាំង [jɔːh ouˌlaːˈraŋ]; also romanized as Yos Olarang) was a Cambodian garage rock musician, and a leading figure in that country's rock scene of the 1960s and 70s. He is presumed to have been killed during the Cambodian genocide that took place under the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979.


Yol Aularong was from a family of notable Cambodian musicians: singers Sieng Vanthy and Sieng Dy (aka Sieng Di) were his aunts, and classical violinist/composer Has Salan was his uncle.[1][2] His father was a member of Cambodia's diplomatic corps and he spent some of his childhood in France.[2]

Embarking on a music career, he stood out from the typical Cambodian pop music of the time by focusing on self-expression and social commentary. His public persona was that of a "bad boy" who flirted, sang sarcastic songs about everyday life, and claimed not to care about money or fame.[1][3] The Guardian called him "a certifiable maniac" and The New York Times described him as "a charismatic proto-punk who mocked conformist society."[4][5] The 2015 documentary film Don't Think I've Forgotten, which profiles Aularong, recounts an exchange between Aularong and the prince in which he said "You're a prince, I'm not, but we will all die so who cares, let's have a drink."[1][6]

As with many of his contemporaries, a great deal of the information about Aularong's life, as well as his creative output, was lost during the Khmer Rouge regime. He was last seen shortly after the Khmer Rouge seized control in April 1975 and ordered all residents of Phnom Penh to evacuate the city. He left with his mother, but his fate is unclear.[6] In an interview for Don't Think I've Forgotten, his aunt speculated he was likely killed.[1] A member of the Cambodian royal family who knew Aularong explained that as a non-conformist musician with western influences, Aularong was likely targeted for imprisonment or execution immediately.[5] Though what happened to him is uncertain, according to the Huffington Post, "his name survived as a sort of codeword for the younger Cambodians to identify themselves as a way of keeping their culture alive."[6]

Musical style

Aularong was regarded as an original artist, incorporating elements of soul, funk, and rock into his songs. He often performed with his aunt Vanthy and Pen Ran's younger sister, Pen Ram, as backing singers.[2] His lyrics were often humorous or sarcastic, based on everyday life and current styles, even when the music itself was more serious.[1][7] According to Rebeat, his "subversive, satirical style and distorted psych guitar makes him the joker/rebel of the Cambodian rock scene."[8] According to LinDa Saphan, "In the 1970s, Yol Aularong and Meas Samon were the only singers and songwriters who were making social commentary through their songs. [Aularong] used irony to comment on Cambodia's bourgeois conformist society."[9]

Western audiences were introduced to Aularong's work through compilation releases many years later. Cambodian Rocks, released on the New York-based Parallel World label in 1996, contained 22 uncredited, untitled tracks of pre-Khmer Rouge psychedelic and garage rock music. In the years since its release, the tracks have been identified and three attributed to Aularong.[10] The compilation drew attention to the novel sound of music produced by Aularong and his contemporaries, who combined popular Western genres like garage, psychedelic, and surf rock, with Khmer vocal techniques, instrumental innovations, and the popular romvong "circle dance music" trend.[10][11][12] Reviewers likened his "Yuvajon Kouge Jet", for example, to a "fuzzed-out, reverb-soaked,"[12] "go-go organ and fuzz-guitar"[13] cover of Them's "Gloria."[11] Meanwhile, The Diplomat considers it to be "one of the most enduring pop hits of Cambodia's first period of independence."[14] A few more of his songs have appeared on subsequent compilations by Khmer Rocks Inc. and others.[15]


Aularong's "Jeas Cyclo" is included in Lauren Yee's off-Broadway production, Cambodian Rock Band. Yee said it is "one of Cambodia's most enduring pop hits", and that she included it in the show after she named the show's fictional band "the Cyclos".[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Pirozzi, John (director, producer), Andrew Pope (producer) (2015). Don't Think I've Forgotten (film) (in English and Khmer). Argot Pictures.
  2. ^ a b c John Pirozzi and LinDa Saphan, liner notes, Don't Think I've Forgotten, soundtrack, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Yee, Lauren (6 February 2020). "Playwright Lauren Yee Shares Five Songs to Listen To Before Seeing Her New Play Cambodian Rock Band". Broadway Box. Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  4. ^ Cohn, Nik (19 May 2007). "A voice from the killing fields". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 July 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  5. ^ a b Sisario, Ben (9 April 2015). "'Don't Think I've Forgotten,' a Documentary, Revives Cambodia's Silenced Sounds". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 June 2019. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Van Luling, Todd (15 May 2015). "Communists Tried To Kill Cambodia's Rock Scene, But New Research Uncovers Buried History". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  7. ^ Collins, Cyn (17 April 2015). "Cambodia's golden age of music illuminates at MSPIFF". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Archived from the original on 27 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  8. ^ O'Rourke, Sally (27 April 2015). "LIVE: Don't Think I've Forgotten: Cambodia's Lost Rock and Roll at City Winery, NYC (4/24/15)". Rebeat. Archived from the original on 19 July 2018. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  9. ^ Saphan, LinDa (January 2015). "From Modern Rock to Postmodern Hard Rock: Cambodian Alternative Music Voices". The Journal of Ethnic Studies. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Cambodian Rocks (MP3s)". WFMU blog. 9 December 2007. Archived from the original on 9 September 2015. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  11. ^ a b Samuelson, Sam. "Various Artists - Cambodian Rocks". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  12. ^ a b Novak, David (Fall 2011). "The Sublime Frequencies of New Old Media" (PDF). Public Culture. 23 (3): 603–634. doi:10.1215/08992363-1336435. S2CID 147700736. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 July 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Dengue Fever and Cambodian Rocks". American Way. 8 April 2009. Archived from the original on 13 July 2018. Retrieved 30 October 2018 – via Jack Boulware.
  14. ^ Parsons, Laurie (29 June 2016). "Going Nowhere Fast: The Plight of Phnom Penh's Traditional Transport Workers". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 21 November 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  15. ^ "Yol Aularong at". Discogs. Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Yol Aularong
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?