Syra Run is an independent artist. She is an original songwriter and a guitarist based in Phnom Penh. Syra started her career as an artist in 2008. She and her Westline School’s music band performed music for king’s birthday in 2011 and other vital events in Phnom Penh. Besides being an independent artist, Syra is an accountant at a nongovernmental organization and a pharmacist student at International University. Syra formed a “Call Us In” girl band that produced the first song, aiming to empower women and girls, called “There’s nothing wrong with being a girl.” Throughout her time of being an artist, Syra volunteers to perform for many charity events in the country.
Q: Hello Syra! What are you working on currently?
Syra: I am preparing for my new song. I’ll probably record my new song this week. Recently I am occupied with work and school, so I haven’t released new songs. I work on my songs during free time. I also work on some of my old songs when I have time.
Q: How many songs have you produced?
Syra: I have written about 10 songs, and I released 5 songs already.
Q: You write songs when you are still studying. Are there any challenges?
Syra: I studied two majors, pharmacy and accountant. I was absent in classes when I performed for charity events. I love being an artist, and I want to contribute as I can to those charity works. I didn’t get class participation grades when I was in school.
Q: Are you disappointed to get lower grades?
Syra: I was doing fine because I still passed the exams.
Q: When did you start working on your songs?
Syra: I started writing songs in 2013. After graduated from high school, I formed a girl band to perform together. I wrote the songs for the band.
Q: Why did you start doing that?
Syra: I love music since I was young. I rarely express my feeling in front of people. When I have something in mind, I noted it down in my notebook. I started to write the songs. I played guitar and produced a melody.
Because of the surrounding environment and my school, I started to write songs that motivate my friends and me. Some friends shared their love life’s experiences with me. I write songs based on those stories and my personal story. I wrote a song with Soriya called “Chhor Maom” (strongly stand up). That song was about a person who left us because he thought we had nothing. “The song sends a message to him that I am not the type of person who you thought I was. So, don’t judge the book based on its cover.”
Some people said that young girls shouldn’t play music. I had heard a lot when I first started playing guitar. My friends also discouraged me. They told me that being a girl playing guitar is not good. I don’t think so. When we are stressed or sad, the music could help us.
Q: Why do people think that playing guitar is not for girls?
Syra: Mostly in Cambodia the musician is a male occupation. They think that musicians just want to have fun at night. Musicians do not study seriously. But, that doesn’t represent all cases. For instance, I used to have a band. We studied. We studied at medical school, law school and so on.
Some of our friends think that we were not good girls. They didn’t value artists a couple years ago. They wanted us to focus on study and get married because we are girls. I keep playing. We wrote a song “There’s nothing wrong being a girl.” We empower girls to pursue their dream. Girls do not belong only to home and wait for someone to marry her.
Q: Have you seen many girls in the industry?
Syra: When I started playing guitar, older people asked why I played it. Now I observe that many young girls play music. I think older people and their family understand this issue (music and life). I think they might realize that music can help their kids. Some kids can use it to improve their lives and not to waste their time on drugs.
Q: Do you have messages for other young girls?
Syra: If you love art, follow your heart. Do what you love and do it the best.