Dengue Fever Music

Genjer Genjer (Quick Hits)

Filmed for the Sound Tracks: Quick Hits series by the Talbot Players in association with PBS Arts (

Performed in a back hallway at Amoeba Music in San Francisco, “Gendjer Gendjer” is about Indonesia, not Cambodia. According to guitarist Zac Holtzman (who formed Dengue Fever with his brother, Ethan, the keyboardist), the song was originally written during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World World II when food was so scarce that people resorted to eating Gendjer, a weed that grew in rice fields.

The song re-surfaced in the 1960s in Indonesia when there was a violent military coup and government crackdown on communists and ordinary citizens — a period of political turmoil dramatized in the movie, “The Year of Living Dangerously.” “Anyone caught listening to or singing ‘Gendjer Gendjer’ was considered an enemy of the government,” says Zac.

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