KhmerLife Exclusive: Interview with Soup Pha

Introduce yourself

My name is Sophana Pha, but I go by Soup because that’s what my friends call me, I am a 2nd- Gen Cambodian/Chinese/Thai-American singer/writer/producer/MC/host of KhmerTV/actor/mental-health specialist who is currently embarking on a road tour as an ambassador for human rights in Cambodia to bring light onto several issues.  I strive to bring awareness to situations in the mental health aspects of Cambodia that require dire attention at the moment.  I recently visited several schools in Cambodia and found that there were no significant planned actions for students with special needs.  I am pretty moderate in speaking Khmer, Thai, and bit of Laos.  As an artist, I plan to use my platform to help target this lack of resources.   I come from a family of musicians better known as ChlanDen Productions.  I feel inclined to write about situations in my life that the younger and older generation Cambodians can relate too.  I feel music is a way to tell a story and to get emotions relayed across many generations and I am blessed to be working with so many amazing Khmer people all around the globe.  

Tell us about the city you are from?

I was born and raised in the city of Long Beach, CA surrounded by palm trees, beautiful beaches, and most importantly one of the biggest Cambodian Communities in the United States. 

Long Beach, CA

What first got you into music?

 I started singing straight out of my mother’s womb.  The first song I learned as a young child was a song I sang in choir titled “Won’t you be my valentines” and “I Have Nothing” by the late Whitney Houston.  My mother and father would always yell at me to shush lol.  Honestly, I can’t really remember a time I didn’t sing.  My great-uncle was the founder of ChlanDen Productions back in the late ’80s and 90’s where he produced many CDs for release in the United States.  Although he is no longer here, I feel in my blood to continue the strong legacy he left behind.  You see my father and mother did not sing but for some reason, most of my siblings can, kind of funny actually.

Who inspired you to make music?

Growing up, my mother would always talk about Prince because it was her first concert she attended back when she was living in Houston, Texas.  I would say that he was her idol because she would not stop talking about him.  I’m a huge fan of Prince and his style which might explain why my demeanor is kind of like, I guess? Most people nowadays compare me to George Michaels but I never really knew why hahaha.  To be quite frank, if you asked me who inspired me vocally, I would say Whitney Houston and 90’s boyband’s like Nsync, the Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears actually most 90’s pop artist.  I love to sing soulful, smooth, powerful ballads and growing up I loved singing at the top of my lungs, I think this is what helped me learn to sing with such a belt.  As far as Khmer singers, I’ve only recently started listening to Khmer songs; that being said, I would say Sinn Sisamouth and Pan Ron, more currently Mr. Jay Chan because I believe he is very talented with his vocals and the different genre, I’m super grateful to have him as a mentor and to have him guide me in the Entertainment Industry,  he is a truly beautiful person inside and out and I am blessed to have him in my life.  I am also very grateful for Mr. Sok Visal of Klapyahandz for his amazing advice he’s given me when I first started singing in Khmer, he is very knowledgeable and a force to be reckoned within the industry.  Most recently Ms. Chom Nimol has been a huge part of my life because she’s really honest and she’s full of passion and love for fellow artists; my brother Boty, and Sonya are both amazing artist too, my bro Victor Siva, I love his song “Nevah” so much.   Ahhh, I’m so humble thinking about it, someone please pinch me because I feel like it’s a dream sometimes.  There are so many more artists I’ve gotten a chance to meet but I would have to do a speech to cover it all and name drop all the amazing people I’ve come across in my life.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

I am more of a pop/soul singer so the kind of music I like to do is lots and lots of sugary slow powerful ballads, I’ve recently started touching my hand in Ramvong but I’m not quite good yet.  I’ll need a few more years of practice.  Recently I’m touching base with my softer tone, I want to create a sweet sweet album, I think my newest single “First Love”, is a good idea in the direction I’m taking with my music this year.   

What is your creative process like?

It varies, I sometimes dream lyrics.  Usually, I always have a notebook or my phone near me because random melodies would pop into my head.  I like candles and a nice quiet setting to help inspire me.   I love reading books because I’ll pull some inspiration from a story also.  I think you should never limit yourself to writing, I might write jumping out of a plain one day lol.  I’ve been really blessed to work with my friend Danny Stimac who has done countless music scoring for hallmark films and theatre movies, he’s really pushed me and I am grateful to be working with an award-winning writer.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?

Wow, hmm let me see, I for sure want to work with Mr. Jay Chan again and was blessed to be able to collab with him on “Love & Unity” with our brother SK Illerest; I’m currently very eager to work with Victor Siva of Klapyahandz, those are a few of my dream collaboration for this year, and a wonderful artist by the name of Leng Phe based in Seattle, Milano Doe who is such an amazing Cambodian-American artist I can’t wait for you guys to see more of.  There’s too many to list I’m a bit overwhelmed by the love I get from my fellow peers.  As far as a mainstream artist, I would loveeeeeeeeee to work with Bruno Mars, or Adele, I think they have an amazing range in their voices.   

If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?

Honestly, I would love to continue to open for Mr. Jay Chan because I’ve grown to be a better artist because of him; I would also love to open for Bruno Mars, that would be pretty rad.  And Klapyahandz, that would be so much fun. 

Where have you performed? What is your favorite?

I have auditioned for the X-factor and performed for the judges, unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut but its all good lol.  I’ve also had the opportunity to perform on The Voice but didn’t do well either ehhhhh.  I’ve learned a lot from those experiences.  I think one of the coolest events was singing the National Anthem at an LA Galaxy game.  Most currently I had the honor of performing amongst some of the biggest stars in Cambodia; it was a humbling experience getting to share the stage with Boty Phen and several other famed artists.  I’m such a dork I can’t remember most of my performances hehe.  Oh I did get to sing in front of JoJo from 105.9 at the JLO movie premiere, which was kind of cool.  

Do you have any upcoming shows?

I have a show coming up in Seattle, WA which I’m really excited about, and several more shows lined up for the rest of the year depending on the status of the Corona Virus,  I’m disappointed the show for Japan was canceled but I think everything happens for a reason. 

How do you feel the Internet has impacted your music

Through the internet and social media, I’ve been able to meet so many of my fellow artist peers, I feel a part of a family, which is an amazing feeling.  I also feel so happy to connect with my amazing fans,  I think it is a great platform and currently, I am in the process of being signed but I can’t quite say who yet 😉

What is your favorite song to perform?

I love to sing my Khmer single “Sneah Pit”, it’s still such a hard song to do live.  I also like to sing Bopha Chiang Mai.

Which famous musicians do you admire?

Justin Timberlake, Prince, Jay Chan, and the late Sinn Sisamouth. 

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

To always stay humble and grounded and to always know who has your best interest at heart, also to avoid clout chasers.

What’s next for you?

I’m working on a documentary that will follow my life as 2nd-Gen Cambodian-American learning to bridge the gap between past and present.  I’m also working with some cool Thai artists for a new Thai song, I’m also working on a full Khmer Album hoping to finish by fall 2020.  Lots of exciting projects coming. 

What is the best Khmer restaurant in your city

Honestly, I’m not being biased but I love my uncle’s Cambodian/Thai restaurant called Crystal Thai.  I also love Sophy’s and Phnom Penh Noodles.

What is one message you would give to your fans?

To always believe in yourself and to always live the best version of yourself, life is short don’t waste time.

How can fans get in touch with you?

Social media link below to connect with me

Instagram: soup_phaofficial
facebook:  Soup Pha
Soup Pha Youtube Channel

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