If you follow Chong The Nomad— also known as Alda Agustiano— on any social platform you would probably agree that she exudes happiness and is always joyful. This and her incredible music are a welcome reprieve from the desperation and torment happening around the world that often fills our timelines. Chong The Nomad is the budding artist that we all need for those self-care days that we didn’t realize were necessary. Throw on her latest single “Pompelmo”, sit down and read our exclusive interview with her and make sure to catch her midnight set at Summer Meltdown this summer because according to her, she is “totally game to be the wackiest motherfucker there.”
It’s time to melt!
RIZE Entertainment: You were featured on Spotify’s Feminist Friday playlist. What does being a feminist mean to you?
Chong The Nomad: As an artist it means representing any female identifying person that is trying to create and share their music to the world, and have a voice and share their own stories and music through any means possible. If that’s through art, through public speaking, through politics and as an artist it mean sharing my music and getting as many people to dance to my music as possible.
RIZE: You wrote “stay warm friends” on your social media in the fall. Do you think Seattle’s unique weather has an impact on the kind of music that gets released here.
Chong The Nomad: I was actually in the car with my girlfriend this morning and I told her that I was happy that it was a little cloudy today so that I didn’t have an excuse to just go outside and frolic and instead just make music for a bit. Weather doesn’t have anything to do with my music sonically, more of my workload. (Laughs) I think the environment is truly inspiring. I’m in the city one minute and I could just drive 45 minutes out and go hiking the next. There’s so many people that constantly provide me with support— especially being a queer woman of color— it constantly inspires me to keep writing. Being in Seattle does definitely have a lot of influence on my art.
RIZE: You mention that when you heard Stevie Wonder’s song “Overjoyed” you knew you wanted to write music from then on. What other music or life experiences really inspired you to create?
Chong The Nomad: Coming out. (Laughs) Falling in love is a big one. I think nothing makes you wanna lose your mind and dance more than falling in love with someone. I think finding that side of me and being true to that side of me has really opened up a lot of perspectives and ideas. I draw inspiration from everywhere but it’s those feelings that I kept locked inside for 17-18 years that exploded and are still exploding and I hope will forever be a source of inspiration. I am very much so a hopeless romantic. I came out when I was 17 when I first started dating my first girlfriend. I have written so much music about love. Even my latest single Pompelmo— it’s just a wacky crazy beat but I wrote it after a really good date. (Laughs)
RIZE: You released your first EP this February. What made you decide to make that jump to decide to share your music with the world?
Chong The Nomad: I DJ’ed a show in Seattle. I did it for free. It was the first time someone had ever asked me to DJ for something and it was one of the best nights of my life. (Laughs) I played some original stuff for it and I ended up at some point doing a Michael Jackson remix that I made and people started going insane. I let myself go completely and it was great. I think that no matter what— even if I have to work a day job— if I could just perform then I’ll be okay.
RIZE: You’ve said that “Pusher Love Girl” by JT is in your top 20 songs of all time. What about this track is so incredible for you?
Chong The Nomad: I think that it is one of the most underrated tracks ever. It is the opening track on The 20/20 Experience— which is overall a great album. It’s the strings. There is so much attention to detail—so much sonically pleasing attention to detail and it’s Pop music! (Laughs) It’s popular music. I think there is a lot of flack against pop artists now. “Oh, it’s easy music.” I think that’s not true at all. That song is a perfect example of how you can create something gorgeous and still have it be popular. The harmonies in that track. Everyone needs to listen to it. (Laughs) It goes back to what I said earlier about how love can unlock the craziest tunes in any artist.
RIZE: Have you ever attended Summer Meltdown Music Festival? What are you most excited about?
Chong The Nomad: I actually have not. I’ve never really had the money to go to festivals out of town so this will be my first time at Summer Meltdown and I am thrilled— super stoked. I have friends who have been to Summer Meltdown that the second I tell them that I am playing it their eyes burst open. I hear it’s in a forest with a big river. I’m playing the dance tent at midnight and I have no idea what it’s going to be like and I think that’s the most exciting thing about it!
I am also playing Cap Hill Block Party this July and what’s kind of frightening about it is it’s in the middle of the day. There’s a little bit of pressure. I feel with Summer Meltdown anything could happen at midnight in the dance tent. I am just gonna read the crowd, be true to myself and just go nuts.
I really do plan on doing that at Cap Hill Block Party but I feel like I could truly go bananas and that’s what I am most excited for. I’m thinking about bringing my harmonica out at some point! I am totally game to be the wackiest motherfucker there.