Multi-talented Cambodian-American music artist Badassvon was born in the refugee camps of Khao-I-Dang bordering Cambodia and Thailand. Coming to America his family first settled in the state of Iowa and later moved to Philadelphia as part of a small Khmer community there. Badassvon grew up living in the slums in a small one-bedroom apartment along with 5 other siblings for about 15 years until his father made enough money to move the family out. Badassvon got into music at a young age and released the hit cover of Lok Tha Sinn Sisamouth’s, “Khung Pros Sralange” which kick started his popularity among the Khmer community today.
My name is Vorn, I go by the name of Badassvon. I am from Philadelphia, PA, but you can catch me everywhere.
How did you come up with your artist name?
People used to call me Skippy because I was always dancing, but I eventually got stuck with Badassvon because I’m normally versatile and love doing extraordinary activities that are considered “badass”.
Tell us about the city you are from?
Philly has a rich history dating back to the American Revolution. You can find the Liberty Bell here as well as the Art Museum, where the iconic steps from Rocky were filmed and Independence Hall. We have a large Cambodian population here and even a CambodiaTown in South Philly. I’m proud to be part of the community.
What first got you into music?
I was always around musicians and producers. I tried rapping decades ago, but I didn’t make the cut because I had a raspy voice lol
Who inspired you to make music?
My dad. He used to sing and I watched him perform when I was a kid. He used to record himself on the tape deck and we would listen to it during car rides.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
I try to be a well-rounded versatile artist creating everything I possibly can because deep down inside I know I’m capable of creating anything I put my mind to. I dislike being boxed into a particular category. Music just comes naturally to me.. it’s like breathing simple sh*t.
What is your creative process like?
I work fast. I usually cook up on the spot. Surrounding myself around good company, being around other inspiring artists and having a few good drinks, is the formula for my creativity. To add to that, my imagination is out of this world with Directing, Acting and Comedy.
Why did you decide to become a songwriter?
I first started off doing covers for fun and it caught a lot of buzzes. I recently started writing my own music and doing more originals because deep down inside I knew I have it in me. I also needed to push my creativity further because ever since I did my first cover, many new faces started to pop up in the scene. I’m happy and glad that folks aren’t shy anymore, however, I hope to inspire a new generation of Khmer artists to step out of their comfort zones..but now I’m trying to test my limits of creativity. I always remind myself “you don’t need to be a good singer to be a good creator”. “You don’t need to sound beautiful to create beautiful sounds”. As long as the melodies are there you can talk on a track.
Which song you have written is your favorite and why?
My favorite song I wrote on the spot has got to be “Anit Bong Pong”. I put all 5 elements in that song which were Khmer, English, rapping, dancing and pure handsomeness lol. It’s not out yet but will release it very soon, it’s a whole new sound… be ready for it.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Right now it would be Vannda, Vitou again, my guy Rahkie and of course my guy HAI.
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
KhmerKaren, I would love to open for her. She needs to be recognized.
Where have you performed? What is your favorite city?
California, Ohio, Tennessee, Boston, Philly, South Carolina, Seattle, Canada, Cambodia many other places. My favorite would be South Carolina. I performed for the very first time there and the people loved it.
Do you have any upcoming shows?
Rhode Island, California, South Carolina, Atlanta. However, due to COVID-19 all of these places are pending until further notice.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted your music?
It helped me a lot. I was scared at first, holding on to songs for years. Until finally I gave in and posted it for fun. I’m glad that I did.
What is your favorite song to perform?
Khung pros sralange — it was a hit.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
I can name many, but Lok tha Sinsisamouth is one of my favorites.
What do you enjoy most about being a musician?
I enjoy creating my own style and sound..
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Keep going whether people like it or not. You have a lot of what others don’t have.
What’s next for you?
I’m releasing 2 albums and trying to be more creative with visuals..
What is the best Khmer restaurant in your city?
Sophie’s Kitchen, probably the only authentic Khmer restaurant in town besides iheartcambodia.
What is one message you would give to your fans?
Thank you for supporting my journey. It’s not easy being a breakthrough artist, but with the love and continued support, you all inspire me to create more. Just know that what you guys give me, I will use that to put it into better production.
Do you want to give anyone a shout out?
Hella Chluy, JL Jupiter, Kornswagger without them I would not be where I’m at today. Thanking those 3 guys that got me here. want to also shout my guys, Davey tsunami, kronikG, the guys from HMG, 2door, khiembeatz, ladabeatz, soup, Jay Chan, hviofficial, Satiya and those who I didn’t mention I’ve met during my journey.
How can fans get in touch with you?
Fb: vorn mann
Khmerlife team: Thank you so much for taking the time for the interview. Much appreciated.