One of Bin Song's lifelong friends is Son Soeun (also born 1942). In the 1950s and ‘60s, they grew up together in Preah Ko village in Siem Reap Province, even entering the monkhood together for a time.
When the young Song began to make and play Angkuoch Daek, Soeun became intrigued by the instrument too. Over time, he learnt to play proficiently. In the local lingo, the instrument was called “Angkuoch Peacock" on account of its shape. The two boys would often slip an Angkuoch Peacock in their pockets to play for pleasure whenever they chose.
“When I was a bachelor, I went to visit the houses of girls at night. When I reached my lover’s house, if she was already asleep, I played to call her. If I kept calling, she would wake up and come to meet me. And then we sat together. I could call her to meet me wherever I wanted as long as she heard the sound of my Angkuoch.” (Son Soeun)
Monivong (b. 1990) introduced some clever innovations to the making technique, some of which his father has since adopted.
"Once Angkuoch-makers had chopped the bamboo into pieces, they used to dry it on a board in the sun for one or two days. My father used to do this too. But I choose to dry the bamboo by smoking it over the fire, because it is faster. Now my father copies my way of making.” (Chi Monivong)
At one time, Mong Koeuy (c.1937-2012) was the best-known Angkuoch Russey maker in Siem Reap province. He lived in Preah Dak village, not far from where Chi and his sons Monivong and Chen live. In fact, it was Ta Koeuy (“Grandpa Koeuy”) who first introduced Angkuoch to the young Chen, and who later taught Chen’s father Chi to make the instruments.
As a child, Koeuy learnt to make Angkuoch from his father. He sold the instruments to tourists at the nearby temples, along with coconuts and other things.
My father told me that he started to make Angkuoch when he could hold a knife. That means when he was about ten years old. (Koeuy Reatha, son of Mong Koeuy)
Later, as a young man, Koeuy also worked as a farmer and a carpenter.
Mong Koeuy married his second wife Lav Mech (b. 1945) during the Khmer Rouge era. Soon after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he began selling Angkuoch again. The income supported their children through school.
According to her daughter Leakhena, Mech also played Angkuoch Russey when she was younger.
Earlier, women communicated through Angkuoch too. At night, they went for a walk and they played: ‘I love you!’ [Laughs]. (Lav Mech)
Yeay Mech ("Grandma Mech") told us that her husband spoke to her through the Angkuoch too. He would tell her, “I love you”.
“When I first saw this photo [of the British Museum Angkuoch], I was very excited. I never knew my father’s craft had been promoted internationally. Even locally, some people do not even know about it, so I had not thought it was very valued. Seeing this Angkuoch, I miss him. To my family, the Angkuoch symbolises my father.” (Koeuy Leakhena, daughter of Mong Koeuy)