Chong the Nomad [Alda Agustiano] has taken Seattle by storm with her melodic production and killer live sets. Her song on Big Slide’s Recess 002 is just one example of her talent and instrument driven production. The Process has taken us behind the scenes with many artists and we couldn’t resist the temptation to learn more about this talented producer’s methods.
How did music play a role in your childhood? Did you have any favorite artists as a child?
It played a huge role in my childhood actually. My parents are very musical. My dad is a guitarist and my mom is a really great singer. I always told people my mom taught me how to sing and my dad taught me how to listen. That’s what my childhood was like. I grew up listening to a lot of what my parents listened to, artists like Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, and Earth Wind and Fire. I also listened to a lot of pop music in elementary school, up until I fell in love with dance music in late middle school. That is when I started listening to artists like Daft Punk, Deadmau3, David Guetta, and Tiesto. Those guys got me into dance music early on.
What instruments do you know how to play and in what order did you learn them?
I play 5 instruments. The order I learned them in was piano, trombone, guitar, ukulele, then harmonica.
How did you get started producing music and was it a difficult jump to transfer over to the more electronic side of things?
I had an interest in writing my own music since elementary school, but never started thinking about writing until late middle school. I found the ‘do it all yourself’ aspect of electronic music fascinating. I didn’t need a nice studio or a bunch of crazy equipment, I could just use my laptop and digital audio equipment. I use Fruity Loops Studio, which I still use to this day. When I was 14, I had a bunch of girlfriends who were interested in electronic music and I kind of hopped on the bandwagon. I absolutely fell in love with it. I’ve always flowed from genre to genre. This has been the hardest part for me, finding my own style and figuring out what I want to do with the different genres of electronic music. I have been writing since I was 14 and DJing since I was 16.
How do you first approach a new song and what does your creative process look like?
That always depends. I tend to come up with ideas, themes, and images in my head and go from there. The music that I end up uploading tends to be ideas that have come to me very strongly during very emotional venerable moments. I wrote Love Memo during a pretty strange time in my life. Usually the right circumstance is when I am emotionally vulnerable. I get creatively productive and make the most progress. I went to school at Cornish and one of the things I learned there was to take ideas and stretch them out as far as you can. I learned to develop ideas and extend them, which I think is the best way to describe how I work.
Do you ever get writers block and if so, how do you get yourself out of a rut?
All the f*cking time, but it happens to everyone. This something I’m trying to figure out how to deal with. I would like to say don’t force it, but sometimes in order to make a career out of your art that’s not going to work. You’re going to get writers block and you’re going to not feel creative. I think as an artist you have to do everything possible to not have that happen. What I like to do is go out for a walk and listen to a genre that I haven’t listened to for a while or haven’t even thought of listening to. Listening to other people’s music helps a lot for me. I would say hang out with friends, talk to people, be social, and use the energy within you. Eventually as an artist your creativity should come back.
What software do you use?
I use Fruity Loops Studio and I used to use Audacity for recording. I also dabble in Protools.
What artists are inspiring you today?
BrockHampton, Pharrell, Solange, and Sango.
How do you prepare for a live performance?
This is actually a really funny question for me because the last two gigs I played were very tricky. Over the summer I had a lot of festival sets to prepare for and in each one I tried to do something a little different than the last. Right now, my set is a dj live hybrid. I like to make edits and remixes of music that are calling to me at the time. The last show I did a Berry White remix and a Lauren Hill remix. I spent four all nighters on the nights before the show because that’s how my life is. I’m still a new artist, so I try to find different ways to entice the audience, while still staying true to myself. So, I basically do remixes, try to nudge my own music here and there and add the live element. I play harmonica and ukulele in my shows, so I mix all those things together and rehearse like a mother f*cker. It’s all just a big chaotic mess before the show and whatever happens, happens. But it all works out in the end. I love djing, but the live sets portray who I really am as an artist.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I am currently working with Perry Porter, a Seattle rapper. He is extremely talented, and I look up to him a lot. I am also working with two Detroit artists who I won’t name right now. One is a remix and the other is a demo for an album. As of right now, I’m just grinding, working on new singles. A bigger project isn’t in foreseeable future, but I can tell you to expect a lot of new music with in the next couple of months.
As always, we thank we thank Agustiano for her time. If you are in the Seattle area and want to see a live show, you can catch Chong the Nomad at Chop Suey November 14th opening up for Parisalexa. We here at Big Slide cannot wait to follow the bright future this artist has in front of her!