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Chong the Nomad shows off Capitol Hill in latest episode of I Know a Place

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Chong the Nomad (r) and Jax Anderson in I Know a Place — Image courtesy of Visit Seattle
Chong the Nomad (r) and Jax Anderson in I Know a Place — Image courtesy of Visit Seattle

Electronic dance musician and producer Chong the Nomad, whose given name is Alda Agustiano, is the latest Seattle star to host Visit Seattle's vlog-style series I Know a Place. In the video, now live on Visit Seattle's website, Agustiano brings viewers and her friend, Detroit-based musical artist Jax Anderson, along for a tour of her favorite local businesses.

Agustiano, a 26-year old Lesbian of Indonesian descent, has become a well-known Seattle artist over the last few years, having most recently been tapped by Marvel to contribute to the lead single from the soundtrack of 2021's hit film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. The song, "Lazy Susan," also features 21 Savage, Rich Brian, Masiwei, and Warren Hue.

Photo by Jordan Nicholson  

In this latest collaboration with Visit Seattle, Agustiano follows in the footsteps of other local names, such as Seattle Kraken announcer Everett "Fitz" Fitzhugh, restaurateur and Top Chef star Shota Nakajima, actor Nicholas Paul Bernard, and musical artist SassyBlack.

In an interview with the SGN, Agustiano shared her love for Seattle's music community.

"Being a part of the Seattle music scene, where undiscovered and newer artists are embraced and uplifted, has allowed me to flourish here in a way that I might not have in other cities," said Agustiano. "Showing love to my favorite spots in the city, and taking my friend Jax along for the ride, felt full-circle for me."

A personal Capitol Hill tour
Her I Know a Place Seattle tour starts at the downtown Ph? B?c, where she and her family are regulars. She said that it is the first restaurant she remembers eating at. Anderson enjoys a steamy bowl of ph? gà (chicken soup and rice noodles), and Yenny Pham, the second-generation owner of the restaurant, greets the two at their table.

Then the video shows the pair journeying up to Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill. Agustiano said she favors the store for its spotlighting of local and LGBTQ+ authors.

As a person and an artist, she said she feels validated living among Seattle's large Queer community.

"I went from being one of the only out Lesbians at my high school in 2012, carrying my ukelele around school, to being surrounded by people that were so comfortable in their own skin and unafraid to express themselves when I moved into Cap Hill in 2015."

Agustiano said that expressing her identity openly and throughout her creative process is important to her as well. She noted a great deal of inspiration came from late Transgender music icon SOPHIE and her last album, for its "fierce lyrical and technical sound."

After perusing the bookstore, Agustiano and Anderson ventured to nearby Café Racer. The live-music venue is known for showcasing new local artists, including none other than Chong the Nomad. (Named after a ukulele-wielding character from Avatar: the Last Airbender, Chong the Nomad produces distinctively layered music with a seemingly impossible blend of sleek and quirky evocations.)

A pop-art portrait of Agustiano hangs on the wall.

Owner Jeff Ramsey said, "When we started doing the space to make it Café Racer, I wanted some portraits here that reflected music in Seattle. And you know, everybody does the Kurt Cobain, the Jimi Hendrix, and the Chris Cornells. I just really wanted it to be, sort of, the people that are doing it now."

Agustiano shared that she and her "musical family" frequented Café Racer at its previous University District location before the pandemic. "It's where in Seattle you can truly feel a venue that embraces the weird, the DIY, and the experimental," she said in the video. In our interview, she added, "Seeing my face on the wall there was one of the most meaningful things to me."

Finally, the video follows the two to Inn at the Market, where they conclude their night by enjoying a glass of wine on the rooftop overlooking Pike Place.

Visit Seattle's I Know a Place often brings its visitors downtown, but Agustiano's thorough debut of Capitol Hill is a first for the series. Her version of Seattle is one full of old memories, talented creatives, and authentic food.

Photo by Jordan Nicholson  

Taking the stage
The collaboration emphasized Seattle as a music destination, and Agustiano looks forward to taking the stage again soon. Chong the Nomad's most recent Tractor Tavern performance was rescheduled from New Year's Eve to April 29 due to Omicron, but she told the SGN she isn't idle.

"This year is gonna be busy; it's gonna be fun," she said. She is working on a new album, and doing a lot of "writing for writing's sake."

A Cornish College graduate of chamber music composition, Agustiano orchestrates her ultra-layered music entirely on her own.

"True music magic happens when there is no precedent," she said. "There is no number metric for music; it is all in the mix and the textures."

Agustiano loves performing live and can't wait to return to Seattle's stages (and beyond) throughout this year. "I tell people that I black out for 45-60 minutes on stage, like a Tasmanian devil. Being on stage is my version of getting high."

While listeners yearn for a full LP, they can enjoy seeing Seattle through Chong the Nomad's eyes on I Know a Place on visitseattle.org or on Visit Seattle's social media channels. They can also find her at the Tractor Tavern with KEXP on April 29, and can expect a highly active summer from the artist.